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FUNERAL FAQ

The White Ladies at our funeral homes have provided answers to some of the commonly asked questions from members of the community.

We hope you find this information useful. If you have a question that is not answered below, you can e-mail us your question and we will endeavour to answer it.

  1. Why should I choose a White Lady funeral director?
  2. What is the first thing I need to do when a death occurs?
  3. What happens when someone dies in a hospital or nursing home?
  4. Who should I notify after a death has occurred?
  5. How do I get a Death Certificate?
  6. What happens if death occurs away from home or burial needs to happen in a different state or country?
  7. When is a coroner needed?
  8. Who is responsible for organising a funeral?
  9. How much choice does the family have in funeral arrangements?
  10. How long between death and the committal service?
  11. What is embalming and when is it needed?
  12. Should we have a viewing?
  13. What is an Executor?
  14. What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?
  15. What is a vault?
  16. Which is more popular - burial or cremation?
  17. What is a prepaid funeral?
  18. What are the benefits of prepaying a funeral?
  19. What happens to the money I pay for a prepaid funeral?
  20. Can I pay in instalments?
  21. What does a prepaid funeral plan include?
  22. Can I redeem a prepaid funeral for money?
  23. What happens if the death occurs interstate or overseas?
  24. What if I move interstate?
  25. How much will a funeral cost?
     

1) Why should I choose a White Lady funeral director?

White Lady Funerals, an Australian funeral services provider, has been operating since 1987. We offer a unique and distinctive quality of funeral service provided by our committed and professional team of women.

We take pride in our reputation of providing a superior quality of service to each and every family, leaving all the families we help with a lasting tribute to their loved ones. We understand how difficult it is to lose someone close and the importance of honouring their life.

Our softer, more specialised approach to funeral services provides a place where families can be cared and supported in a comfortable and nurturing environment by dedicated staff.

We are also committed to upholding the highest ethical and professional standards by providing an unprecedented level of service to our clients.

2) What is the first thing I need to do when a death occurs?

First, settle yourself from the emotions that can arise at a time like this, then call someone to let them know that you are alright.

After this, you should call your loved one’s doctor. If the death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, then staff there will usually do this for you. However, if it was the deceased’s wish to donate their organs then a hospital should also be advised as soon as possible.

Once the doctor has been, you will need to contact a funeral home like White Lady Funerals on 1300 656 550 to arrange the transfer of the deceased into our care. This can be delayed for a little while if you would like some private time. You shouldn't worry about what time you call, because we are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

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3) What happens when someone dies in a hospital or nursing home?

If death occurs at a public hospital, the hospital administration will complete most of the formalities required for the issuing of Death and other Certificates. However it will be up to the family to contact a funeral home like White Lady Funerals directly.

As most public hospitals have a mortuary we usually move the deceased from the hospital into our care during weekday business hours.

If death occurs at a nursing home or private hospital and you are not already there then the staff will usually contact the next of kin once death has been confirmed.

It is common at some private hospitals and nursing homes for a funeral home, such as White Lady Funerals, to be nominated in advance and contacted upon the event of death. In these circumstances, the hospital or nursing home will contact the nominated funeral home to arrange the transfer of the deceased into our care.

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4) Who should I notify after a death has occurred?

Of course there are always the family and friends of the deceased to notify. It can help to have a trusted family member or friend act as the point of contact for all these people.

But there are others who also need to know, though not necessarily straight away. This list might be of help in taking care of this important detail.

  • The Executor nominated by the deceased
  • Centrelink
  • Department of Veteran's Affairs
  • Superannuation companies
  • Solicitor and/or public trustee
  • Accountant
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, financial institutions, credit card providers, loan companies and digital monetary accounts such as eBay and PayPal
  • Employer/former employer
  • Trade unions or professional associations
  • Australian Tax Office, Australian Electoral Office, Medicare
  • Insurance companies including life, accident, home and contents, vehicle
  • Friendly societies
  • Doctor, dentist, specialists, hospitals, chemist, health benefits fund
  • Main roads - car registration
  • Clubs, organisations and associations
  • Church or religious organisation
  • Household help, gardening services or Meals on Wheels
  • Home nursing service
  • Home delivery services - e.g. newspapers and milk
  • Home appliance rental, medical aids rental company
  • Post Office for mail delivery
  • Local Government for rates, fire levy, etc.
  • Ambulance service
  • Telephone company, electricity company
  • School or college
  • Companies - e.g. for directorships
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Service organisations - e.g. Rotary, Lions, Apex, Zonta, Red Cross
  • Blood bank
  • Social media and e-mail accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail

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5) How do I get a Death Certificate?

These are issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your state. Usually a funeral director such as your White Lady is responsible for registering the death with this Registry within 7 days of the burial or cremation.

Once the death is registered, Births, Deaths and Marriages will provide a formal Death Certificate, which is often a necessary document for any legal and estate issues that need to be attended to.

Applications for a copy of a Death Certificate can only be made at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and must be accompanied by at least three forms of identification to ensure your privacy and that information is only released to those who are entitled to it.

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6) What happens if death occurs away from home or burial needs to happen in a different state or country?

White Lady Funerals have links with some of Australia’s and the world’s largest funeral companies. This means we can help you regardless of whether you would like to bring a deceased home to Australia or send a deceased back to their country of origin.

We facilitate this by liaising with various Australian Government Departments and the Consulate General of the other country. All of this is will be administered by your White Lady, who will convey all necessary documentation to the Governments concerned.

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7) When is a coroner needed?

In some cases, a doctor may not be able to issue a medical certificate of the cause of death and they will refer the death to the coroner. Because determining the cause of death is absolutely vital, you do not have the right to object to a death being referred to the coroner. However if you have religious or other strong objections to a post mortem, you should notify the coroner.

There may be a number of reasons for referring a death to the coroner, including:

  • Death other than by natural causes, including violence, accidental or unusual causes
  • Death whilst under anaesthetic (or within 24 hours of the administration of an anaesthetics)
  • Unexpected death
  • Death of a person in an institution, a prison or in police custody, drug or alcohol rehabilitation centre
  • When the cause of death is unknown, or
  • When the deceased had diagnosed dementia.

Either coronal staff or an appointed White Lady Funeral Director can transfer the deceased to the coroner.

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8) Who is responsible for arranging a funeral?

It is most common for the executor named in the will, or for family members or friends to arrange a funeral in conjunction with a funeral director. In some circumstances the funeral will be arranged by a public trustee.

While not essential, many people prefer to use a funeral director to relieve them from the burden of many decisions that have to be made at such a difficult time.

Funeral directors are trained, experienced professionals who assist families from the moment a death occurs until well after services are completed.

Our special ladies ensure that you have all the help, information and support you need to say your final farewells in your own way. They will work closely with you to guide you through the arrangement process to arrange a service that is both personal and meaningful.

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9) How much choice does the family have in funeral arrangements?

The family has absolute choice in all of the funeral arrangements. There are only a few rare exceptions (eg in the case of coronial investigation in some cases where permission may be given for a funeral by burial only).

If you choose to have one of our White Lady funeral directors help you to organise the funeral arrangements, you can be assured that they will help you with every choice and request that you and your family make.

White Lady Funerals commit ourselves to meeting your needs, whatever they may be. We understand each family's needs are different so we provide a distinctive way of creating a service of remembrance that is as unique as the individual.

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10) How long between death and the committal service?

The length of time between death and the committal service can vary depending on your instructions and the circumstances of the death.

Importantly, it will take as long as you need. There is no need to feel rushed.

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11) What is embalming and when is it needed?

Embalming is carried out by a qualified embalmer and is a chemical treatment of a body which disinfects and preserves it. Embalming may be needed when:

  • There is a longer than average delay between death and the funeral
  • The deceased needs to be transferred overseas or interstate
  • The deceased’s wishes call for an above ground burial in a crypt or vault, or
  • To improve the appearance of the deceased for a viewing.

If you have any questions about embalming or other mortuary practices, please raise them with your White Lady. We are always willing to discuss these matters with you.

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12) Should we have a viewing?

Viewing the deceased is a very personal decision and it is entirely up to you.

In our experience it has many benefits as it not only helps the bereaved to face the reality of death but it also allows for quiet times of reflection and good-byes.

Most viewings are held at our funeral homes with our caring, supportive staff available to offer you their support.

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13) What is an Executor?

An Executor is a person named in a Will or appointed by a court to finalise a deceased person's financial affairs.

The Executor takes care of all the property, paying any bills and taxes, and seeing to it that assets are transferred to their new, rightful owners. If probate court proceedings are required, the Executor must handle them or hire a lawyer to do it.

When someone passes away the Executor should be notified as soon as possible. It is advisable that an Executor get professional advice or assistance, if only to determine their rights and responsibilities in the matter.

If a Will cannot be located, the role of the Executor usually rests with the next-of-kin, who should seek professional advice before attempting to finalise matters.

The Executor Assist Helpline, available on 1800 623 530, may be of assistance. It is an obligation free 24 hour, 7 day service.

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14) What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?

In Australia we usually associate the word coffin to mean a container for the deceased that is similar in body shape to human dimensions; that is, it is broader at the shoulders and narrower at the feet. Coffins normally have a removable lid and are made of wood.

The word casket usually describes a rectangular container with a hinged lid. Caskets may be made from wood or metal.

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15) What is a vault?

A vault is a specially constructed structure that houses caskets. The intent behind their design is to protect the casket from the weight of the earth, as well as the equipment used by cemetery staff to dig adjacent graves.

Vaults vary in design, finish and protective features. They are often personalised with a name plate and religious or symbolic insignia.

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16) Which is more popular - burial or cremation?

An individual's choice to either have a burial or cremation is often based on many personal reasons including family traditions and/or family beliefs.

In certain cultures cremation is not a popular option (or may be prohibited by religious belief). In other cultures the opposite may occur with cremation being the custom, for example, in the Hindu tradition.

There are pros and cons on both sides regarding the decision to bury or to cremate, however more and more people are opting to have a cremation rather than a burial, particularly in the land poor, city areas.

Ultimately, this decision is a matter of personal choice which your White Lady will support.

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17) What is a prepaid funeral?

Many families choose to discuss their choices for the type and style of a funeral and record their preferences in advance with their funeral director. When the next step is taken, and a future funeral service is paid for in advance it becomes a prepaid funeral.

Doing this gives you the chance to personalise the service the way you would like it and make it a celebration of your life. It can also be a way to get your loved ones involved in creating a positive and meaningful experience as well as reducing the burden of organising your funeral during a difficult time.

Your White Lady funeral director can assist with all your preplanning requirements.

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18) What are the benefits of prepaying a funeral?

There are many advantages when you take care of your final arrangements in advance.

The most obvious benefit is financial as by paying now members of your family will not need to raise the cost of a funeral at an already difficult time. There are a number of emotional benefits, too.

When you make arrangements in advance you are able to make informed choices about what type of service you would like. This not only gives you peace of mind knowing you will have the service you want, but it also reduces the burden on your family or friends at an already difficult time. You also can rest assured knowing that your our special woman's understanding will be there to support your family during their grief.

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19) What happens to the money I pay?

Funds given towards a prepaid funeral to be conducted by White Lady Funerals are invested into an independent trust: The Over 50’s Guardian Friendly Society Limited (Society).

The Society bears any investment risk and ensures the selected services will be provided at the time of need according to the wishes you set out in the contract. The Society complies with all state and federal laws, such as the Funeral Funds Act.

With White Lady Funerals, you can relax with the peace of mind of knowing that everything will be taken care of.

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20) Can I pay for a prepaid funeral in instalments?

You will have the opportunity to choose whether to pay in full or to pay by regular monthly instalments.

It may suit you better to pay for your White Lady funeral by making regular instalments. If you elect do it this way, an initial contribution up front will be required. This will be followed up by monthly instalments over a period to suit you and can be for up to 36 months.

Once all instalments have been received on time, the agreed White Lady funeral service is fixed forever and no further costs will be incurred.

If death occurs before the prepaid funeral has been paid in full, then provided your payments are up-to-date, White Lady may on request put all instalments towards the agreed cost of the actual funeral.

If there is a shortfall between the contributions and the price of the funeral then it will be payable at that time.

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21) What does a prepaid funeral plan include?

A prepaid plan provides for many options including:

  • Professional guidance, information and ideas about what is important to you and assistance with any final details, such as newspaper notices and order of flowers.
  • Transfer of the deceased during business hours into the care of your nominated funeral home, within a maximum radius of 70 kilometres.
  • Mortuary care for the deceased prior to the funeral, including preparation for viewings.
  • Provision of coffin or casket.
  • Attendance of experienced funeral director at the funeral ceremony, viewings, crematorium or graveside.
  • All necessary documentation for your burial or cremation.
  • Provision of hearse and other vehicles.
  • Cremation arrangements.
  • Cemetery fees.
  • Press notices.
  • Floral tributes.
  • Clergy fees.
  • Travel Protection Plan can be included for when you are temporarily away from home.

These are only some of the options available to you, and we encourage you to discuss these with one of our White Lady funeral directors.

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22) Can I redeem a prepaid funeral for money?

No. You cannot withdraw from a prepaid funeral plan, nor can it be used in any way other than to pay for funeral expenses.

However, if you have a prepaid funeral to be conducted by White Lady Funerals and you change your mind, you are entitled to cancel the plan within 30 days, or such other period as required by legislation, from the date of receipt of a confirmation letter from the Society the money is being held in.

After this cooling off period you cannot cancel or reduce the services written in the plan.

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23) What happens if death occurs interstate or overseas?

For when you are temporarily away from home you can purchase a Travel Protection Plan as an addition to your White Lady Funerals Prepaid Funeral Plan. This covers the costs of transporting a deceased person back to their nominated White Lady funeral home.

If you do not have Travel Protection Plan, you should contact your White Lady funeral director immediately and they will be able to arrange for the transport of the deceased, and attend to any statutory or customs requirements. In these circumstances there is usually an additional cost for transportation.

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24) What if I move interstate?

If you move interstate you can rearrange your prepaid funeral plan accordingly.

Your White Lady funeral director will be able to assist you to transfer your plan to another White Lady funeral director in the area, or recommend another funeral home for you to transfer it to.

However, prices cannot necessarily be guaranteed on a transfer, as there are price differences between states.

Please note that the funds are required to stay in the secure investment you have arranged and can be accessed by the new funeral director at the time of the funeral.

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25) How much will a funeral cost?

The cost of a funeral can vary, depending on a lot of things such as:

  • Whether a burial or cremation is preferred
  • The type of funeral services required (whether there will be a memorial service after the funeral, whether the funeral is large or small)
  • Type of coffin or casket
  • The cost of a grave or urn, and
  • Fee paid to other professional for services provide as arranged by our funeral directors such as opening and closing the grave, paid newspaper notices, honorarium for clergy etc.

At White Lady Funerals we offer a range of funerals to cover all requirements, depending on your wishes.

Our special ladies will discuss options and costs with you during the arrangement meeting.

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