Getting Financial & Emotional Support When Someone Dies

By Nicholas Marouchak

06 March 2021 - 7 min read

Losing someone close is a difficult time. It is important to have an opportunity to properly grieve. Take some space and grieve in a way that’s best for you.

You don’t need to rush into finalising all the administrative affairs too early. There will be time to sort your loved one’s affairs when you are ready.

This step also provides information on financial support available.

Taking Time Off Work 

You might need to take time off work to properly process your loved one’s passing. Here are some common employee rights to be aware of.

Compassionate Leave

In Australia, most employees, regardless of whether they are full-time, part time, or casual, are entitled to two days compassionate leave.

You are entitled to take compassionate leave when a close family member or dependent dies (or becomes extremely ill or injured).

A ‘close family member’ includes a partner, former partner, child, sibling, grandchildren, parents and grandparents. It also includes step-relationships such as step-child, step-parent, step-sibling. It also includes a close family member of your partner or former partner.

You can take compassionate leave as a continuous two-day period, two separate one-day periods, or as agreed upon with your employer.

If you are already on another type of leave (like annual or sick leave), you may use the compassionate leave instead, so your other leave is not affected.

Full-time and part time employees will be paid for compassionate leave at the base rate for ordinary hours worked. Casual employees will not be paid for compassionate leave.

Compassionate leave does not accrue, and can be taken each time a death or extremely illness or injury occurs to a close family member.

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman page for more information.

Sick leave

Full-time and part time employees have the right to 10 days (on a pro-rata basis) of sick leave per year. Sick leave is technically called ‘personal leave’.

You can take sick leave if you are unfit for work due to illness or injury.

If you are unable to work because you are overwhelmed with grief, then you may be entitled to take sick leave.

Your pay slip should have details on how much accrued sick leave you have.

Speak to your doctor to get a medical certificate if you need to take extra time off work.

If you are unfit for work, and you run out of paid sick leave, you can always go on unpaid leave.

However be careful that you are not on unpaid leave for more than three months, because that could give your employer the right to terminate your employment.

Further information on sick leave is available here.

Annual leave

Part time and full-time employees are generally entitled to 20 working days (4 weeks) of annual leave per year, on a pro-rata basis.

You can take annual leave if you need time to process and deal with your loss.

Other leave

You might be entitled to long service leave if you’ve worked for your employer for a minimum period of time (usually 5 to 10 years).

Long service leave entitlements vary from State to State.

01 financial support

Grief Services

Losing a loved one is a difficult time.

Amongst all the legal, financial and administrative things you might have to do, it is important to look after your own wellbeing.

Here is a list of organisations that can help you cope with grief and loss.

Beyond Blue

They assist with all types of mental health concerns, like suicide, anxiety, depression, ptsd, etc. This can be used by all Australians.

Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network

They provide assistance to young people affected by grief. This can be used by all Australians.


Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing emotional distress access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Solace Australia

Solace Australia is an organisation that provides support for people who have lost their partner.

Financial Assistance

Here are some ideas to think about that may help you financially.

Prepaid funeral or funeral insurance

Check if your loved one had a prepaid funeral or funeral insurance. This will help offset the financial cost of a funeral.

Life insurance

A life insurance policy will nominate a beneficiary to receive money in the event of death.

Life insurance can be attached to superannuation (in which case, the life insurance payments will form part of the super money) or it can be a standalone policy.

Mortgage protection insurance

Check if your loved one had any sort of insurance policy which covered mortgage repayments upon death.

Health insurance claims

The deceased person may have had a right to recover medical cost and expenses from a health insurance provider before they died.

It is worth checking to see if there are any outstanding claims which can be made under a health insurance policy.

Accidental or traumatic death

Some insurance providers and super funds provide additional payment if your loved one died accidentally, or due to a serious illness or injury.

Death at work

If your loved one died at work, it’s best to speak to a lawyer about entitlements under workers’ compensation (eg. Work Cover) or other personal injury claims.

Superannuation fund

Superannuation is often a major asset for most people.

The super money is generally separated into:

  • accumulated funds (money your loved earned) and
  • often, an additional life insurance payment.

Super money can either be paid to:

  • the beneficiary directly (such as the partner, children or other dependent) or
  • the deceased person’s estate.

Speak to the super fund to find out how the super money will be processed.

We provide more information about this later in the steps.

Your loved one’s assets

The deceased person may have left assets/money which they accumulated during their life.

We will provide further information about accessing these assets in the further steps.

Centrelink has various payments available in certain circumstances.

The type of payments that you can receive depend on:

  • your personal circumstances;
  • your relationship to the deceased person and
  • when you notify Centrelink (as some payments have deadlines).

To be eligible for any payments, it is a good idea to notify Centrelink as soon as possible after your loved one died.

Centrelink Exemptions

Centrelink may provide exemptions from certain obligations or activity test requirements if you are getting job seeker, youth allowance, parenting payment or special benefits at the time of death.

These exemptions apply between 8 to 14 weeks from date of death.

Death of a partner

You may be entitled to benefits if your partner dies and you were receiving:

  • Farm Household Allowance for 12 months
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance for 12 months
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance
  • If were receiving a Partner Allowance, you may continue to get this payment for up to 14 weeks after death.

Single person or pensioner

If a single person dies, their Centrelink payments usually stop on the day of their death.

A single pensioner may receive additional payments for up to a fortnight after death.

Carer allowance bereavement

You may receive a carer allowance bereavement payment if you are getting both:

  • the carer allowance for an adult who dies; and
  • another income support payment not qualifying you for bereavement assistance.

Loss of a Child

A bereavement payment is available to a parents/guardians who have lost a child, provided they are receiving Centrelink assistance at the time of death.

Centrelink is also able to extend payments meant for a child for up to 14 weeks.

Here is more information about assistance available if from Centrelink if you lost a child.

Carer payment

If you are getting a carer payment for a person who dies, you may continue to receive these payments for up to 14 weeks after the person dies.

Double orphan pension

It is a payment if you are caring for a child who has lost both of their parents or neither parent can take care of the child.

Special Benefit

Centrelink offers a special payment to those who:

  • are in eligible for any other Centrelink income support payments; and
  • experiencing severe financial hardship

More information

Visit Centrelink’s site for a more detailed explanation.


If your loved one was a veteran, contact the Department of Veteran Affairs to see if there are any eligible benefits.

This can include a one-off payment made by the Department to assist with the funeral costs.

There may also be entitlements to have a bereavement payment made.

You can get non-financial assistance such as receiving a certificate of appreciation for your love one’s war service.

Visit the Department’s site for more information.

Your local ex-service organisation can often provide assistance and information with regards to possible benefits.