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How to arrange a funeral

Introduction

When a family member dies certain formalities must be dealt with first. These include finding the will, contacting the executors if they are unaware of the death, and then arranging the funeral.

The funeral director will deal with many technical issues and be able to answer most of your questions, therefore you need not worry about formalities that you do not understand. For example, if it is necessary for the body to be sent overseas and for permission to be obtained from health authorities, this will be dealt with by the funeral director.

Who is responsible for arranging the funeral?

The executor of the deceased's will has the legal right and obligation to arrange the funeral.

The deceased may have expressed wishes about arrangements for the funeral, either in a will or a letter of last instruction, such as whether he or she wished to be buried or cremated, and whether or not there is to be a religious service. The executor is not legally bound to follow these instructions, but it would be unusual for them not be followed.

How is the funeral paid for?

Funeral expenses (including any shortfall if the deceased arranged and paid for the funeral in advance) are generally met by the deceased's estate (his or her assets).

Funeral grants from Work and Income NZ

If there is no money available for the funeral you should contact Work and Income New Zealand immediately to see if a grant is available for the funeral.

Cautionary notes
  • In certain circumstances the coroner will need to be contacted to perform an autopsy, and there may need to be a Police investigation. These circumstances can include a death without a known cause, a suicide or violent death, or a death in prison, in Police custody or in a psychiatric institution. If an autopsy is necessary, this could delay funeral arrangements.

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