Information on this topic also available for:
This information aims to help you know where to start and the steps to take when arranging a funeral.
If you are the executor of a deceased person's will, you have the legal authority to make their funeral arrangements. If you choose you can pass this responsibility to a family member or friend. If there is no will, the next of kin or other family members or friends usually arrange the funeral as it may take some time before the court appoints an administrator of the estate.
The person arranging the funeral is financially responsible for it and is the only person who can make arrangements with the crematorium or cemetery, including signing all burial or cremation permits.
If you want you can make your own arrangements for your funeral. This will give you the chance to find a funeral director you are happy with and make the arrangements you want rather than leaving this to others.
The will or personal papers of the person who has died may indicate if they belonged to a funeral fund or other pre-payment plan which may have details of funeral arrangements.
Before you sign an agreement for a funeral find out what money is available to help you pay the costs. You should discuss payment options and sources of funds with the funeral director.
Money to pay for a funeral may come from:
The documents of the person who has died may have instructions to use a particular funeral director. If no preferences were recorded anywhere, you will need to select one.
After a death it may be hard for you to 'shop around' for funeral services but it makes sense to find a funeral director you are comfortable with that offers their services at a reasonable price. Friends or relatives may be able to recommend a funeral director or you can find them in the telephone directory or on the internet.
Funeral directors usually provide the following services:
Under the law all NSW funeral directors must provide you with an itemised quote. These quotes should make it easier for you to compare services and prices of funeral directors. Make sure the quote includes GST so you know the full price.
If a funeral director offers the option of a ‘basic funeral’ they must give you a written quote called a ‘basic funeral notice’. This quote should itemise each of the basic funeral goods and services and their costs as well as the estimated costs of necessary disbursements. The funeral director must give it to you before they make funeral arrangements with you. You may be asked to sign the ‘basic funeral notice’ slip to show you have received it, even if you choose a different funeral.
Signing this slip does not mean you are committing to a funeral with this funeral director.
If a basic funeral option is not available, a funeral director must still give you an itemised quote before entering into any funeral arrangement.
All funeral directors must give you an itemised final statement or invoice of the goods and services provided and their costs, before you make the final payment.
Different funeral directors offer different payment options so choose the one that suits you best. They may ask for a deposit and you can sometimes negotiate the amount with them. Only pay the balance when you receive the itemised final statement or invoice.
A basic funeral (also called an ‘economy’ or ‘budget’ funeral) is the lowest cost funeral that includes a service, which the funeral director can provide.
A basic funeral consists of a single service, conducted at the funeral director’s premises or the burial or cremation site. It would occur on a weekday between 8am and 5pm and consists of only:
A direct committal is a cheaper option than a basic funeral. It is offered by most funeral directors and is a cremation or burial without a service. Bereaved families and friends can still arrange a memorial service at another venue.
There are different types of pre-paid funeral arrangements and Fair Trading regulates the first two in this list:
For more information visit the Contributory and pre-paid funerals page on the Fair Trading website.
Coffins and caskets: Coffins are usually less expensive than caskets. Coffins and caskets with more elaborate fittings, linings and timbers are more expensive.
Disbursements: A disbursement is the fee charged by someone else which the funeral director pays on your behalf and then charges you for. Necessary disbursements include the fees charged by a doctor for medical certificates and permits or fees charged by a cemetery or crematorium. Other disbursements may include newspaper notices, flowers or refreshments that you can request. The funeral director can only pass on the actual cost to you.
Plaques, plots and urns: You may have some additional costs to be paid directly to the cemetery or crematorium such as a plot or plaque, wall niche or urn and you should make these arrangements directly with them. You may choose not to purchase a memorial spot and instead scatter the ashes or keep them in your home.
If you have a problem with a funeral director try and resolve it directly with them. If this is unsucessful contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or lodge a complaint online. Remember to keep all your paperwork and notes of everyone you speak to.
Get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can access PDF versions of our information.