Death doesn’t end with, well, death. There’s a lot to be done after someone passes away – and, naturally, there’s plenty of paperwork. Thankfully, you’re not, likely, responsible for this paperwork, but it’s prudent to be aware of how the world will know, officially, that you’ve passed away.
A death notice 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. Some claims against an estate must be made within a certain time from the date of the death notice. In some cases, a person cannot claim not to know about the death if there was a death notice (s 33 Trustee Act 1958 (Vic); s 30 Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic)).
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) BDMR Act).
The information received by the BDM registrar when a death is registered by way of a ninth schedule form (see “Registration of death”) 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.
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 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. 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.