What You Need to Know When Planning a Funeral

What You Need to Know When Planning a Funeral

Planning a Funeral can be a daunting task for families when they are trying to deal with the loss of a loved one and experience the range of emotions that come following a death.  Often, family dynamics and relationships play a large role in how a funeral is planned and what is included and not included at the time of the funeral arrangement.  This can be especially difficult if there is tension within the family or if the wishes of the loved one were not clear before they passed. Generally, there are standard pieces of information that are required for arranging a funeral, regardless of the unique elements that a family may wish to include, and having these prepared before meeting with a funeral director can definitely assist in the funeral arrangement process.

Simple Information

The first pieces of information that a funeral director will want to obtain from you, are the basic details of your loved one.  These include their full name, date of birth, date of death, residential address, and the location of their death.  All of this information will assist in preparing release documents for the coroner, or for the hospital where your loved one may have passed and will ensure that there are no delays in bringing your loved one into the care of a funeral director.

Establishing the Next of Kin or Applicant

Your funeral director will also need to establish who the appropriate next of kin or applicant is.  In Queensland, funeral directors are required to liaise with the most available, senior next of kin when making funeral arrangements.  This can be particularly tricky if there are fractures within the family unit, however, a good rule of thumb is to follow the linear family line, for example, you would consider the next of kin to be firstly the husband or wife, or the legal de-facto, from there you would then look for the eldest available child of the deceased, from there it would be a parent of the deceased, if none of these were available, it would then be the legal representative of the deceased.  Establishing who you want your next of kin to be in your will is always a good idea and making sure that your family are aware of who is responsible for your funeral arrangements is a great thing to include in your funeral wishes.

Extended Family Information

Throughout the funeral arrangement, your funeral director will ask questions that will assist in registering the death of your loved one and generating a death certificate following their funeral service.  The information that will be asked will include marriage details, parents’ details, children’s details and details of any immigration and occupations your loved one may have had.

Marriage Details

Your funeral director will need to know the details of all marriages that your loved one had during their lifetime.  The details that you will need to know include the location of the marriage (City and State for Australia, or State and Country for outside of Australia), how old your loved one was at the time of the marriage, and the full name (including maiden names if applicable) of the person that they married.

Parents Details

Your funeral director will need to know the full names (including maiden names if applicable) of your loved one’s parents and their occupations.  This information is used by Births, Deaths and Marriages to register and reconcile birth, death and marriage records in their systems and is a requirement for a death registration in Queensland.  Usually, this information can be found on a birth certificate or a marriage certificate if it is not information that you already know.

Children Details

In Queensland, the details of all biological and adopted children are required for the death registration and the given names will appear on the death certificate of your loved one.  These details include the first name, middle name and the date of birth of all children.  Unfortunately, stepchildren are unable to be included on a Queensland Death Certificate.

Place of Birth Outside of Australia

If your loved one was born outside of Australia, you will need to know the town, and country of their birth and what year they first arrived in Australia to settle.  This information is used to reconcile immigration records along with the birth, death and marriage records of their birth country.  If you are unsure of what year they arrived exactly, you can give an estimated year of arrival for this section.


As with our electoral rolls, birth certificates, and marriage certificates, a death certificate lists the occupation of the deceased person.  For people who have had multiple occupations throughout their life, an easy way to identify their main occupation, is to think of how they would answer the question “What was your occupation?”  What were they most proud of?  What did they do mostly throughout their working life?

What Other Information Do I Need to Know?

Throughout the funeral arrangement and planning process, your funeral director will go through a range of things with you for inclusion in your loved one’s funeral service.  Each of these items are optional, and completely up to the family to decide on.  They include things like what coffin you would like, what flowers you would like, what music would you like played at the service, where will the service be held, cremation or burial, what will your loved one be dressed in, will you have a celebrant or member of the clergy, and what multimedia, printed stationery or materials would you like to have included at the service.

There are no hard and fast rules about what needs to be included at a funeral.  Funerals should be unique and represent the life of the person you are celebrating, so you can include or exclude pretty much anything that you want to so that the funeral service is representative of your loved one and their life.  This is a time where your funeral director can help you be as creative as you would like and will offer you options that might suit your needs.  As funerals continue to evolve and become more tailored, there will always be more and more options of things you can include at a funeral, making funerals more and more unique and personalized.

The most important part of planning a funeral is making sure that you are listened to, supported, offered care and compassion, and that your needs and vision of your loved ones funeral are delivered by your funeral director.

If you have questions about planning a funeral or would like information on how we can assist you and your family, please feel free to reach out to us on 1300 043 522.

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