How to Organise a Funeral in Western Australia

Organising a loved one’s funeral service can be a daunting task, particularly for those who have never had to do so before. The process is unfamiliar territory for most and it is natural that bereaved families will have a lot of questions.

We want to assure any families going through the process of arranging a funeral that no question is stupid or inappropriate. Here are answers to some of the most common questions we are asked…


How much does an average funeral cost?

No two funeral services are the same and there are so many options that it really is difficult to give a precise cost of an average funeral and what it includes. It would be best to speak to your funeral arranger to discuss the options.


Who is responsible for the funeral arrangements?

To arrange a funeral, you do not necessarily need to be a next of kin or executor of the deceased person?s estate ? though this is usually the case. The ?administrator? of the funeral is nominated at the time of the arrangement and this person is responsible for signing all relevant paperwork and final payment of the funeral account.

If there are any decisions to be made, the funeral director will look to the administrator for the final say. Funeral arrangements may be postponed and legal advice may be required in cases of extreme family conflict.


Is cremation cheaper than burial?

Generally speaking, cremation will be cheaper than burial due to the cemetery fees involved.


Do I have to sign anything?

Yes. If you are the executor, next of kin or other authorised representative, you will be asked to sign some or all of the following documents.

  1. Application for Cremation / Burial (MCB)
  2. Authorisation of Embalming or Hygienic Preparation (Seasons)
  3. Application for Permit to Cremate (for cremation only)
  4. Certificate of Identification (MCB)
  5. Form 1: Funeral Contract (Seasons)
  6. Form 1a: Contract for payment
  7. Death Registration Form (Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages)
  8. Relevant Statutory Declaration/s

A funeral director will help you with all of these if needed.


How quickly can a service be arranged?

The standard timeframe to arrange a funeral service from the time of the appointment with the funeral director is 3-5 working days (except in special circumstances).

However, it is important to remember that there is generally no need to rush this process.

When someone dies, we often feel a great need to ?do something?. In our shock we try to regain control by organising things. However, it?s important to allow yourself time to be with your family ? to talk, cry and share memories.

Rushing arrangements may impair your ability to think clearly and you may end up with more pressure on yourself. While you should contact your funeral director as soon as your loved one passes away, the appointment to go through the paperwork can be made for 24-48 hours later.


Can specific religious and cultural traditions be accommodated?

In almost all cases, yes. Those who work in the funeral industry generally have a broad knowledge of the requirements of many different religions and traditions and will be happy to assist you in any way they can to ensure your requirements are met.

Seasons is particularly well known in Perth for conducting services for a wide variety of cultures and religions. You can find more information on this here.


What happens to the coffin after the service?

Following the service, the coffin is drawn into a committal room where the nameplate is checked against the cremation order to ensure correct identity. The coffin is then identified with a label stating all of the relevant information. This stays with the coffin until the final disposal of the cremated remains. It is the legal requirement in Australia that the coffin be cremated with the deceased person on each and every occasion.


Is more than one coffin cremated at one time in a cremator?

No. The only exceptions to this rule may be in the case of a mother and baby or father and baby or twin children where permission is sought prior through the relevant authority.


When will the ashes be available?

On average, the ashes will be available 48 hours after the service has been completed. Under special circumstances, they may be able to be collected after 24 hours. You need to ask your funeral director to submit an ?Urgent Request? to the cemetery on your behalf.


How will the ashes be presented? Do I need to purchase an urn?

The ashes container provided by the cemetery is very basic. It is a glossy, navy blue cardboard box surrounding a plastic bag containing the cremated remains.

You may wish to ask your funeral director about purchasing an urn, however it is not imperative.


Can I take the ashes overseas?

Yes.  Most airlines will permit the ashes to travel with the passenger as hand luggage, but you should always contact the airline you are travelling with to investigate individual company policies regarding the transportation of cremated remains. Ashes must be in a completely sealed container with the relevant cremation certificates and a letter from your funeral director.


How long will the cemetery hold onto the ashes?

The MCB (Metropolitan Cemeteries Board) will hold onto the ashes of a deceased person for 6 months from the date of the funeral. There is a charge of $15 applicable per month thereafter.


How long does it take to get the death certificate?

A death certificate cannot be submitted until the funeral has taken place. Your funeral director will submit this on your behalf.

The certificate is sent by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to the funeral arrangers within 5 working days of the funeral. It is checked for errors before being forwarded to the listed administrator of the funeral.


What is the difference between the death certificate and the doctor’s certificates?

If the death was preceded by an illness and the treating doctor agrees to certify the death, they complete a ?Medical Certificate of Cause of Death? and ?Form 7: Certificate of Medical Practitioner?. These are required by your funeral director to apply for relevant permits.
The official death certificate is issued by the Registry of Births Death and Marriages and is submitted on your behalf by the funeral director on the day of the funeral. You should receive it within 5-7 working days later.


Do we need to supply clothes?

While this is not essential, most people prefer to supply clothing for their loved one including such things as underwear, socks and shoes, shirt, trousers, dress, perfume/aftershave or a certain shade of nail polish or lipstick if it is appropriate.   You may also wish for the deceased to be holding photos or letters in their hands, particularly if there is a viewing.


Where can we hold the funeral service?

Traditionally, a service is held at the funeral home?s private chapel or at the cemetery.
However, a funeral service can be held in almost any location provided the appropriate permits are sought. Your funeral director will seek permission and make the arrangements on your behalf.

This is a wonderful way of personalising the service and creating a celebration or tribute that will be remembered for many years to come.

Seasons have conducted services on the beach, in a farmer?s paddock, at a family home, on a golf course, in a garden setting, on a boat, and even at Subiaco Oval.


What are the benefits of a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan?

There are many advantages to pre-paying and arranging your funeral. It?s not for everyone ? but it does give you the opportunity to do things such as fix the costs of the funeral, alleviate emotional and financial pressures on your family, gain taxation incentives and have the peace of mind that your final wishes will be carried out.


What happens if a person dies without a will?

“Intestacy”ˇis where a person dies:

  • without leaving a will, or
  • leaving a will which, for some reason, does not deal with all their property (estate).

If a person passes away without a will, the law in Western Australia sets out how their estate will be shared out and debts paid ? including funeral costs.
You may need to seek legal advice. Legal Aid provides good information on this issue.


What happens if the death is sudden or unexpected?

If a death is unexplained or sudden, the State Coroner may need to be involved.

The deceased person is transferred to the state mortuary so an autopsy may be carried out.

The coroner will liaise directly with the family regarding any results of the autopsy.

The family of the deceased can still make arrangements with a funeral director for their loved one?s funeral service. The funeral director will submit the necessary forms for the deceased to be released and arrange for the transfer of the deceased into their care at the appropriate time.

The funeral service may be delayed depending on when the release paperwork is received. The official death certificate may be issued as an ?interim? or ?incomplete? certificate as the ?cause of death? information will be missing. This is still a legal document able to be used for executing the will. A ?complete? certificate will need to be applied and paid for when the results from the autopsy have concluded the exact cause of the death.


Coroner’s cases

Procedures for organising a funeral are no different if the coroner has been involved, but more time will be needed to prepare the body for a viewing. The funeral service may be delayed until a release has been granted from the State Mortuary.


Are the procedures different for babies or children?

No. The procedures are the same.