Traditionally, death certificates included sensitive information about the deceased, such as the cause of death, details of the burial and the date that the death was registered. However, Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria has recently introduced a second type of death certificate, which excludes this information.
This means there are now two types of death certificates available in Victoria:
- A simple certificate which does NOT include cause of death, place of burial and date the death was registered – this is called a ‘death certificate’; and
- A certificate which DOES include cause of death etc. This is called a ‘death certificate – cause of death’.
The simple ‘death certificate’ can only be used for limited purposes, such as closing a bank, utility or phone account, although we are yet to see this in practice and cannot guarantee that it will in fact be accepted by all of these institutions. You will need to provide the full ‘death certificate – cause of death’ for all other purposes, including:
- applying for a grant of probate or letters of administration;
- closing a superannuation fund; or
- transferring control of an insurance policy to the executor or administrator of an estate.
Accordingly, if a loved one has passed away, it is important to ensure that you obtain the death certificate – cause of death, as many organisations will only accept this type of death certificate.
In many cases, the funeral director will apply for a death certificate on your behalf. To avoid any delay and additional fees, it is important to ensure that you order either the death certificate – cause of death, or the death certificate package (which includes both types of death certificate) to ensure the estate can be managed properly. The Registrar of Probates has issued a direction to make it clear that the probate office will only accept the full ‘death certificate – cause of death’ on the filing of applications for probate or letters of administration.
If you have any questions about the new death certificates in Victoria, or need help with a probate or administration matter, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Wills & Estates team.