Arranging a funeral is one of life’s hardest and saddest tasks. By familiarising yourself with the rules associated with funerals before you need that information, you will be in a better position to make informed decisions that may prevent you from paying more than you need to.

After burial or cremation

Last updated

1 July 2021

Death notices

A death notice published in a newspaper or on the internet is not required by law. It is primarily a social formality but can also serve important legal functions. It can have the effect of notifying creditors, debtors, executors and potential beneficiaries of the death. In some cases, a person cannot claim not to know about the death if a death notice has been published.

If  a notice in the form of schedule 2 of the Trustee Act 1958 (Vic) has been advertised in accordance with section 33 of the Trustee Act, claims against an estate must be made within a certain time from the date of the notice under section 33 of the Trustee Act. After which time, the estate can be distributed without regard to any claims that have not been made within the time limited in the notice for claims (s 33 Trustee Act 1958 (Vic); s 30 Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic)).

Sending a certificate to the Births, Deaths and Marriages registrar

Every undertaker or other person who arranges for the disposal of remains must, within seven days of that disposal, sign and forward to the BDM registrar a certificate in the BDM registrar’s prescribed form (s 39(1) Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (Vic) (‘BDMR Act’)).

Death certificates

The information received by the Births, Deaths and Marriages register (‘BDM registrar‘) when a death is registered by way of a ninth schedule form is transferred to a third schedule form (under the BDMR Act) at Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria. This third schedule form is what you receive if you request a death certificate.

After the funeral the next of kin may need to obtain a death certificate to prove death, for example, in order to obtain funeral benefits or to obtain probate or administration of the deceased.

Within one month after a death has been registered by the BDM registrar, notification of the registration will be posted to the person who supplied the particulars of death in the form of an extract of the entry relating to the death.

A certified (full) or an extract of the death certificate can be obtained from the BDM registrar. Enquire at the BDM office as to the fees payable.

Part 4 of the BDMR Act (ss 44–48) contains privacy provisions, which give the BDM registrar the power to refuse access to the register. This power can be exercised unless the person applying can show they are entitled to a copy of the certificate.

A general power to review the BDM registrar’s decisions in this regard is given to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and is contained in section 52 of the BDMR Act.

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