Handling the death of a loved one


You’re in shock and you’re vulnerable. We understand, so we’re here to support you. This piece we put together explains an overview of the admin you need to take care of, so that this difficult time can be a little bit easier for you.

The Death Certificate

The first death certificate created is not the same thing that you receive from home affairs.

  • Here are a few points that will help you understand the process

    • A medical practitioner that declares someone’s death issues a death certificate, otherwise known as death notification forms. This gets sent to the department of Home Affairs.

    • The Department of Home Affairs use this document to create an unabridged death certificate, which you will need for insurance, will and estate or account closing purposes. This is the certificate that you receive.

    • The death notification forms are also used so that the Department of Home Affairs can authorise a burial, based on a natural or unnatural cause of death. If the medical practitioner passes an unnatural cause of death, you may need to wait a little longer to bury your loved one.

    • Death certificates protect the deceased by stating only natural or unnatural as cause of death. Specific detail on death is kept by the government and used for data purposes only – meaning your loved one’s name stays anonymous.

A Notification of Death

The death of your loved one needs to be reported to our government within 21 days of the occurrence. When you file a notification, you’re registering the death so that you can get an unabridged death certificate. Once you have reported the death, you will receive an unabridged death certificate as well as an abridged copy.

  • Notification of death can be sent to any of the following people

    • Specific officers at the Department of Home Affairs.

    • South African Police Service members, especially in areas where the Department of Home Affairs has no offices.

    • South African mission, embassy or consulate, if the death occurred abroad.

    • Funeral undertakers who are appointed and recognised by the law.

Funeral Arrangements

All religions and cultures have unique traditions, but one thing that remains the same is that funerals can be pricey.

  • Here are a few things to keep in mind if you need to keep your funeral costs low

    • Lilies and chrysanthemums are two types of flowers that are symbolic for peace and purity at a funeral service. If this is too expensive, there is nothing wrong with using white flowers of any other kind – they’re all beautiful.

    • If your loved one had a funeral policy, this will help pay for the funeral service. Family and friends may also be able to help you cover some of the costs.

    • If you’ve joined a burial society, use the money you receive to ensure that you can honour old traditions without putting financial strain on you and your family.

    • Experts in the funeral industry say that people are starting to organise and conduct funeral services by themselves more and more. This could help you cut down on funeral director costs, and also help you bring a personal connection to the service.


Estate Admin

To give you and your direct family peace of mind, the processing of your loved one’s estate must be handled with care.

  • Here are a few things you must know about estate administration

    • A nominator executor is the legal representative who analyses the will and testament, deals with debts and taxes and settle the estate.

    • The executor also communicates specific funeral requests with the family.

    • When you see an executor for the first time, you must take the deceased’s death certificate, ID card and bankcards with you.

    • The will and testament is analysed thoroughly by executor. He/she will also look at specific funeral requests and communicates it with you.

    • Finalising an estate can take quite some time since personal assets, family wishes and individual circumstances are unique to each of us.


Your healthy road to healing is the most important thing to focus on. While you’re handling this admin, remember to give yourself time to rest and mourn. Let your family and friends support you through this difficult time. Stay strong, we are here for you.

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