There is no death duty at either state or federal level.
Funeral expenses are often covered by family, or have been provided for by the deceased with funeral insurance. If no such provisions are made, funeral expenses can be specifically provided for in the will of the deceased, or will come out of the will of the deceased, whether solvent or insolvent, as prescribed in the Administration and Probate Act 1935 (Tas) at section 34(3) and Schedule II, Part I, section 1. Funeral expenses take priority over any of the debts or benefits that are to come out of a deceased estate.
Who pays for a funeral?
Generally, if there is no funeral fund set up in the will, or the deceased has not made provisions for it with funeral insurance, it is the person who engages the services of the funeral home who will pay for the funeral and associated expenses. This is because the contract for the services is between the funeral home and the person who engages their services, and contracts are between the people who make the contract, nobody else. This means that if there is uncertainty about the contributions that are to be made by other parties, the party who is privy to the contract should make sure of securing funds from others before engaging for funeral services, which they will end up solely liable for.
Currently, if a person’s estate cannot cover the cost of a funeral, or there is no one willing to claim the body, or the relative/s of the deceased are unable to pay for a funeral, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides an Essential Care Funeral Package. This is not an assistance package for people on low incomes. For more information see the Coronial webpage.
Burial and cremation
It is important to check a will before proceeding with funeral plans to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are followed in the way their body is to be treated. Sometimes a will sets out exactly how the deceased would like to be laid to rest. If a will is not discovered or read before the funeral it is possible that the funeral arrangements may have been contrary to the express wishes of the deceased.
Emotional or financial distress
If you are under emotional and/or financial stress following the death of a loved one, it is best to contact Centrelink about what to do following a death. The Hobart Community Legal Service cannot provide financial assistance.
Page last updated 15/12/2017