Cairns Frequently Asked Funeral Questions
Arranging a funeral requires many decisions, and questions need to be asked and answered. Funerals by their very nature, are stressful events, and we may not always remember what we wanted to ask at the appropriate opportunity.
This page is designed to help with some of the most frequently asked questions.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact us and we will do our best to help you.
Please use the tags below to sort your questions by a category.
Why is the Coroner needed?
- In certain circumstances, a person’s death could be considered ‘reportable’. If this happens, the coroner becomes involved. The coroner may also order an autopsy if required.
- A reportable death could be when;
- The person’s identity is unknown
- The death was violent or unnatural
- The death happened in suspicious circumstances
- A ‘Cause of death’ certificate hasn’t been issued
- The death was related to health care
- The death occurred in care, custody or as a result of police operations
- For more information on reportable deaths, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/coroners-process/reportable-deaths
What does the Coroner do?
- The Coroner works with the police to investigate the circumstances surrounding a person’s death, to find out;
- The identity of the deceased
- The when, where and how they died
- The medical cause of death
- The Coroner may also initiate an inquest into the death, usually in consultation with the family.
- For more information on Coronial investigations, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/coroners-process/coronial-investigations
What is an autopsy?
- An autopsy is a detailed medical examination of the body to help determine how and why a person died. It can be as simple as a visual examination with samples taken, to a full internal autopsy.
- For more information on autopsies, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/coroners-process/autopsies#
Why does it take so long?
- The coroner needs time to investigate the circumstances behind a person’s death. This involves co-ordination with several other organizations to find the information they require, as well as deciding whether to perform an autopsy or not.
- The autopsy itself is usually performed within three working days, unless there are any objections. Weekends and public holidays can also interfere with this process.
- It is important for the Coroner to ensure that the examination of the body, and any samples required are completed before they can release the deceased back to their family in preparation for a funeral.
- For more information on autopsies, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/coroners-process/autopsies#
How do I obtain a death certificate?
- Registration of your loved one’s death is automatically done by the funeral director on your behalf. Legally, this cannot be done until the actual day of cremation or burial. Once this has been completed, the death certificate will take about fourteen days before reaching the nominated address.
I need the death certificate sooner than fourteen days. How can I speed up the process?
- If you need the death certificate urgently, for genuine purposes such as travelling with ashes, then please notify us before the funeral service. We can only apply for an urgent certificate at the time of registration.
- The time frame cannot be altered once the process has already started.
- Once we have applied for an urgent certificate, it should only take up to two working days to receive the Certificate.
- There may be a small extra fee for this service.
I’ve received the death certificate, but there are errors recorded on it. How can I correct this?
- Mistakes are often made for various reasons, but if the death certificate of your loved one is incorrect, then you need to contact us straight away with the correct information.
- You will need to send the original death certificate to us as early as possible. Errors cannot be corrected without the original.
- If you wish to contact the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages yourself, then you must be the informant noted on the certificate.
My loved one‘s death certificate doesn’t provide a cause of death? Why not?
- If your loved one underwent an autopsy, or an inquest, then the cause of death may not be determined until all testing and findings have been completed. Depending on the circumstances, this can sometimes take up to several months.
- In this case, the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages will issue an interim death certificate (which doesn’t include the cause of death)
- Once the coroner has completed their findings, this information will be sent to the Registry to update their records.
- You are able to obtain an updated death certificate, if you send the interim certificate back to the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
- For more information, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/coroners-process/death-certificates
Who can make the funeral arrangements?
- Generally, the executor of the deceased’s estate makes the arrangements. Otherwise, a family member or close friend who is willing and able to perform this duty, will need to meet with the funeral director.
- A second contact person can also be nominated.
What if more than one family member wants to be solely responsible for the funeral arrangements?
- If there is indecision or confusion over who actually will be the representative, then the funeral director is unable to go ahead, until the family has confirmed this decision amongst themselves.
- If necessary, a mediator can be sought out.
Does there have to be a funeral at all?
- Although having a funeral service is traditional, it is not a requirement. There are many reasons why a funeral service is not wanted, including the last wishes of the deceased. We will still carry out the cremation or burial of your loved one with dignity.
What if I can’t afford to pay for the funeral?
There are a few options available for families who cannot afford to pay for a funeral. See the list below, or discuss your options with us
- Contributions from family and friends
- Superannuation funds
- Insurance companies
- Some organisational groups
- Victims Assist
- Funeral Assist
What is Bereavement Payment?
- Bereavement payment is a lump sum or short term payment provided by Centrelink, for when your partner, child or the person you were caring for has died.
- You may be eligible for this payment, if you and your partner were receiving a pension or benefit such as Newstart Allowance, or were receiving Carer Payment or Carer Allowance.
- For others, it may be possible to have a Centrelink payment continued for 14 weeks following the death of your loved one.
- For more information on Bereavement Assistance, call Centrelink on 132 300 or click on the link: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/bereavement-payment
How do I apply for Funeral Assistance?
- First, you need to be eligible for this government funded assistance program. If you cannot afford the funeral for a friend or relative who has passed away in Queensland, and the deceased’s assets will not cover the costs, then you may be able to receive Funerals assistance.
- To apply, you need to have made sure that no other family members or friends can help with the costs, and that no prior funeral arrangements have been made.
- You will need to contact the nearest Magistrates Court or Office of the Sate Coroner for an interview. You will need to take with you any financial information of the deceased, and possibly yourself.
- If you are approved, the Magistrates Court or State Coroner will organize the funeral for you, with limitations on what is provided. No extra services beyond what is allowed for, will be permitted.
- For more information, click here: http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/funeral-assistance
How can I apply for Victims Assist?
- Victim Assist Queensland may be able to assist with funeral costs for families, whose loved one died as a result of an act of violence occurring in Queensland within the last three years, provided the violence has been reported to police.
- If the victim died as a result of a dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, you may need to make a claim to the relevant compulsory third party insurance provider first, before applying to Victim Assist.
- For more information, click here: https://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/victims-and-witnesses-of-crime/financial-assistance
What is embalming?
- Embalming is the process of chemically treating the body in order to delay the natural decomposition.
- In Australia, embalming is not a legal requirement, except in certain circumstances. For the majority of families, embalming is not necessary.
Can I choose mine / my loved ones burial site?
- Yes. As part of the Pre-Arrangement or Funeral arrangement process, we will organize an appointment with the staff at your chosen cemetery. You can choose the site you require, and we will then apply to the Council on your behalf for that site.
- You are also welcome to contact Council yourself regarding a burial site.
I have a family member already buried in the cemetery. Can I bury another family member into the existing gravesite?
- This request will need to be discussed with Council Cemetery staff on an individual basis, as part of funeral planning.
- Council regulations apply, but generally double sites need to be planned before the first internment, due to the extra depth required. Some sites within the individual cemeteries are also considered unsuitable for double depth grave sites as a result of the geological features underground.
- The dignity of an existing burial is very important. If Council are unable to determine the depth of the first inurnment, then they have the right to refuse a second burial in the same site.
- There is generally no restrictions on interring cremated remains into an existing gravesite. Council fees and regulations will apply.
Can I bury ashes into an existing gravesite?
- Yes. There are generally no restrictions on placing ashes into an existing burial site.
- Council fees and regulations apply.
Can I place flowers / adornments on my loved ones burial site?
- Cairns Regional Council has strict guidelines to the placement of fresh and artificial flowers, and adornments onto graves. These are dependent on the cemetery and section that your loved one is buried in.
- Forest View Cemetery is a lawn cemetery, therefore only fresh flowers are permitted. Artificial flowers and other adornments will be removed, as these interfere with cemetery maintenance.
- For further information, please follow the link to Cairns Regional Council’s current policy.
When can I place a plaque on my loved ones burial site?
- Providing you are the authorized person to do so, and dependent on current Council regulations, there are generally no time restrictions on when a plaque can be arranged.
- Plaques themselves take about two months to be completed. Headstones make take longer.
- Council fees and regulations apply.
Where do I go to arrange a plaque for my loved ones burial site?
- Provided you are the authorized person, and your loved one has been interred in a lawn or beam section, then our office can help you with this. Feel free to contact us for a discussion of your needs, and a quote.
- Otherwise, we can recommend one of Cairns monumental masons for your needs.
Can I put any type of plaque on my loved ones burial site?
- No. Council has strict guidelines on the type and size of plaque for different sections within their cemeteries. These can be discussed with you by our staff during plaque planning.
I want to place a second plaque on my loved ones burial site. Can I do this?
- This will need to be assessed on an individual basis. There are strict Council regulations that need to be maintained, so please contact us as part of your plaque planning.
I’ve heard that more than one person is cremated at the same time. Is this true?
- No. The cremator unit can only take one deceased person at a time. It is physically impossible to fit more than this. So you can rest assured that your loved one will be cremated by themselves.
Do you take the deceased out of the coffin before cremation?
- No. The coffin you choose for your loved one, is also the coffin they are cremated in.
Can my loved one be cremated in a cardboard coffin?
- Yes. Specially constructed cardboard coffins are available for cremation. However, these are generally not suitable for presentation at a funeral service.
- If you require an environmentally conscious coffin for a funeral service, we would suggest our ‘Eco’ coffin, made completely from plantation timber with no chemical additives. Please see our coffin brochure or speak with our funeral directors.
How do I know the ashes are from my loved one?
- We abide by strict rules, requiring identification of your loved one throughout the entire procedure. From the time your loved one is transferred into the coffin, through the process of cremation and finally the placement of ashes into a cremation urn.
Can I place other items into the coffin?
- Yes, although there are limitations. Many items are not suitable for cremation, such as glass. (Tiny amounts contained in items such as eyeglasses and wrist watches are acceptable. Photo frame glass or bottles are not.) Please discuss with our staff.
- Other items such as pressurized containers, (for example, some aftershave or perfume bottles, or cans of alcohol) items containing batteries, or items that will create a toxic environment when burned, are not permitted.
- If you want to include something, and are not sure if it is acceptable or not, please discuss with our staff.
How long does cremation take?
- From the time of the funeral service, ashes will generally be returned within two working days. There are occasionally exceptions to this, but you will be advised at the time.
- If you require ashes to be returned quicker, then you must advise us beforethe time of the funeral service is set.
What is a ‘cremation risk’?
- A cremation risk is generally anything within the body of the person being cremated, or placed in the coffin, that could poses a risk of harm or injury to those who are conducting the cremation.
- The most common item are pacemakers, but can include any other kind of self-powered devices, or radioactive implants.
- Items such as glass, are not generally considered a cremation risk, but do pose other problems during the process of cremation. These are strongly discouraged.
I want to arrange a garden memorial. How long will it take?
- This will vary depending on the type of memorial required and your circumstances. Plaques can take from four to eight weeks to be completed, once ordered. So generally, a memorial will be completed about two to three months after plans are finalised.
- If you intend to have a placement of ashes in our gardens within a few days after the funeral service, we can assist you with this by using a temporary plaque until the real one arrives. Please discuss your requirements with our staff.
Do I have to place ashes under the plaques?
- No. Some of our memorials are designed for plaque only, meaning there is no provision for ashes to be interred. However, the majority of our memorials are designed with the option of placing partial or complete ashes.
- Interring ashes is not a requirement, with the only exception being war grave memorials. The Department of War Graves requires at least partial ashes to be interred in the memorial.
- Personal items may also be accepted. This can be discussed on an individual basis.
Do I have to purchase an urn before I place my loved ones’ ashes in the garden?
- No. Our standard ash container has been tried and tested for many years as a very substantial container for ashes to be safely stored in.
Can I place my loved ones ashes in the memorial without an urn?
- Yes. Some families have requested their loved ones ashes be directly poured into the earth without the constraints of a container. Others have chosen a bio-degradable urn knowing it will eventually break down and release the ashes into the surrounding earth. Of course, we will remind you that this is a permanent solution.
Will I have to pay yearly fees for the upkeep of the memorial?
- No. At this stage, there are no ongoing fees. The price paid at the time of the original contract is the only cost for perpetuity. The only exception would be if you request any changes once the memorial has already been established.
- We reserve the right to change this arrangement without prior notification. Any changes will affect new contracts only, not existing ones.
I want to take my loved one’s ashes elsewhere. Can I do this?
- Yes, under certain circumstances. You must be the person who arranged the memorial in the first place, or the nominated authorized representative.
- We will require signed authorization to complete the process, along with a small fee. Once this has been attended to, it may take up to three business days for the retrieval of the ashes and the memorial plaque (if required).
I want to cancel my memorial. Can I get a refund?
- This depends on the individual situation. Any contract with us will have a initial 30 day cancellation period with full refund, minus any non-refundable purchases (such as plaques). After this ‘cooling off’ period, partial refunds are possible within a certain time frame after purchase.
- We are unable to offer a complete refund after 30 days, as ‘fair play’ needs to be considered. When a memorial site is purchased, whether it is completed or otherwise, our resources are spent in the care and administration of that site which we require compensation for.
I want to transfer my memorial to another site within your gardens. Can I do this?
- Yes, although extra fees may likely be incurred, depending on your circumstances. Please discuss your individual requirements with us.
I want to transfer my memorial reservation to another person. Can I do this?
- Yes. If the memorial you have purchased is no longer required, you are able to transfer to another individual provided you notify us and provide the information we require for our records. A fee may be charged. Please contact us for information on your particular circumstance.
I no longer require my pre-purchased memorial. Can I sell it back to you? Or to somebody else?
- All contracts with us are for the ‘right’ to use our property in perpetuity for your memorial, not the actual land itself. So therefore, you are unable to ‘sell’ your pre-purchased memorial back to us.
- If you want to transfer the site to another person, then you can do so. (See the above question) But if you require monetary compensation from that person, that is a decision between yourself and the other party. Our company has no say in any such transaction.
- If you don’t want the site, and don’t have anybody to transfer it too, you may surrender the use of the site back to us. We require the signed authority of the original purchaser, or immediate next of kin if the purchaser is deceased.
I want to maintain my loved one’s garden memorial. Can I do this?
- Yes, but in a limited capacity. We are ultimately responsible for the maintenance and aesthetics of the gardens, so to ensure there are no complications such as over-fertilizing of plants etc, it is important you discuss your plans with our gardener.
I want to change the plants in my individual garden memorial. Can I do this?
- This will need to be discussed on an individual basis. Even though our tropical weather is perfect for many plant types, not all will thrive in our specialist gardens. Our gardener will be able to advise you which plants grow best.
- We prefer that any change of plants be done by our own staff, rather than family members. This is to ensure that our specific requirements are met so it is vital that NO changes to gardens are made without prior permission or instructions from our gardener. What works in your home garden, may not work in our gardens.
- If you wish our staff to make the changes to your individual family garden, this can be done at any stage. There will be a fee for this service to cover our time and materials.
My loved ones already have a Family garden memorial. Can I add another family member?
- This needs to be determined on an individual basis. To start with, we would need permission from the original purchasers of the memorial, or if they are already deceased, then the direct next of kin.
- We would then have to assess the existing memorial to see if there is space available for an extra placement.
- If the answer to the above two questions is yes, then we can organize a new contract for the extra person. Fees and charges will apply.
- This option will apply to Family Garden Memorials only. For Established gardens, Niche Walls, and Granite Book of Remembrance, we can only offer the nearest available site. Please discuss your requirements with our staff.