The death of our loved ones is distressing and painful. The emotional pain that deceased’s family members go through is unimaginable. Nevertheless, we keep our emotions in check and remain strong to give them a final farewell. We carry out religious procedures post-death, which are indeed painful, but we never fail to comply with them.
A person or a family goes through a tsunami of emotion after the death of loved ones and in this adverse time, it is likely for a person to get frustrated in financial agreements. To make things simple we have covered all information of financial agreement in detail in this article.
Below are five common questions that arise about death procedures and their expenditures.
- What is the procedure of obtaining a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD) and Death Certificate?
- What happens during an autopsy on a deceased person?
- What are the ways to obtain funds for covering funeral rites?
- What are the ways of protecting a deceased person’s identity?
- How to protect the funeral/burial of your loved ones?
What is the procedure of obtaining a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD) and Death Certificate?
Get a Certificate Cause of Death (CCOD)
Firstly you need to obtain a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD). It is an important certificate and you must obtain it.
What is CCOD?
A CCOD is a document file that must be prepared by a medical officer to certify the known or natural cause of death. This means that the cause of death has to be a disease like cancer or a sudden heart failure. . It does not include unnatural deaths like suicide or murders.
Below we have mentioned three potential death situations and what action you can take in each.
When a person dies at home
If your loved one has passed away at home, immediately call a doctor. That could either be your family doctor or clinic or a hospital near to your house (the doctor must be prepared to do a home visit). A CCOD is prepared instantly after the inspection of a deceased person.
A doctor will ask for a medical paper to verify that the death was natural. So, make sure you provide an original medical certificate from the clinic or a hospital that patient was visiting or getting treatment to get a CCOD.
In case you are unable to contact a doctor, call the police. The police will take over the process further and investigate the cause of death to ensure that the deceased person died naturally and not by external circumstances.
Section 10(3) and 11 of the Coroner’s Act states that any policeman who has seen a corpse may:
- Remove the body wherever he may direct; or
- Preserve and secure the location of the body site to be investigated further. The police report the case of death to the Coroner. The Coroner must be made aware of any information (related to the case) found in current and subsequent inquests.
To determine the cause of death, a body is sent to the mortuary at Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for other medical procedures carried out by a pathologist.
Below are the things that you need to take with you to the mortuary.
- All the medical documents of deceased
- Medicines that were prescribed to deceased
- Identification papers of the dead person and yourself (e.g. Certificate of Registration of birth, NRIC, FIN Card, or a passport).
Typically, the police take a day to investigate the body and then call you to identify the body of the deceased in the presence of the Coroner. Plus, the Coroner will notify you if the situation continues until an autopsy.
When a person dies in the hospital
If a person has died in a hospital a doctor fills a CCOD and certifies the cause of death. As mentioned earlier, an instant certificate is issued when the cause of death is natural.
Once the certificate is filled by the doctor and handed to the nurse, you are eligible to take the certificate after showing an identification card of the deceased.
When a person dies overseas
If your loved ones die in a foreign land then you must register the case with that country’s competent authority.
After obtaining a CCOD you need to search for a funeral director who can take the proceedings of funeral rites. This will assist you in doing the funeral arrangements amidst the pain of losing your loved ones. (We have covered detailed information about the funeral director below.).
Get a Death Certificate upon its registration
Do not get confused between Certificate Cause of Death and Death Certificate, they might sound similar but are different. CCOD tells about the cause of death whereas a Death Certificate is a document that declares a deceased person dead.
Below are the four places where you can register for this certificate.
- Police Divisional Headquarters
- Neighborhood Police Centre
- Neighborhood Police Post
- The Registry of Births and Death
For registration, you need to bring the following things.
Certificate of Death of Cause
Identification papers of deceased (for example Certificate of Registration of Birth, NIRC, FIN Card, or passport) and yourself.
You must decide in advance whether the deceased body will be buried or cremated because this information is required during registering the form for the Death Certificate.
In case the police has sent the body directly to the mortuary located at HSA (where a family member or any other relatives are not allowed) the case will be registered at the mortuary.
Note that you must register for a Death Certificate in 24 hours because further proceedings are only carried out when you have registered for a Death Certificate.
What happens during an autopsy on a deceased?
An autopsy is also known as post mortem examination which helps to discover the cause of death. It is carried out by the pathologist in a mortuary.
It solely depends upon the cause of death and could only conduct after you have registered the death and obtains CCOD.
Is it necessary?
An autopsy is carried out when the death case becomes complicated and needed the Coronary inquiry. According to section 12(1) of the Coroner’s Act, if death is reported to the Coroner, he/she will conduct a preliminary inquest to determine whether an autopsy is warranted.
If the cause of the death is natural then this Act is unnecessary and so an autopsy on the deceased body. The body of the deceased will be returned to family members.
However, If the police find a suspect at the place of death or have come across any unnatural event related to death, then a Coronary investigation is required and therefore an autopsy on a deceased.
Is it possible to request an autopsy inquiry?
Yes, it is possible. You can submit an application form and request a private autopsy inquiry. However, before applying make sure that HSA approves that autopsy.
What happens when the autopsy results are released?
In case the cause of death is declared unnatural, the police further investigate the case. A family member of the deceased is said to cooperate with the investigation. An autopsy inquiry on the deceased becomes necessary for the Coronary inquiries and criminal trials (if any).
Can you claim the body of your loved ones after the autopsy?
You can. However, Coronary does not release a body until all case-related investigations have been completed. You and your family members must be present during the Coronary investigation at the State Court, after which you may claim the body of your deceased loved ones.
Meanwhile, HSA permits to see the body of a deceased after an autopsy.
What is the cost of the autopsy?
For a private autopsy, the fee charged by the administration per case is $5,863.60 (including GST). The cost incurred on storing a body is $165.85 per day (after day three). However, all the fees are refunded if an autopsy is not carried out.
You do not have to pay a single penny for a Coronary’s inquiry.
If you are willing to take an autopsy copy then you have to pay $160.50 to the administration for each certificate (including GST).
What are the ways to obtain funds for covering funeral rites?
What is the potential cost of a funeral?
The cost of a funeral depends on the religion and location (for example parlour or void deck) and the days it takes.
In Singapore, funeral expenses may cost you between $1,300 and $8,400.
Below is the list of items, services, and fees that you can search for the funeral ceremony.
- Photo frame and photo enlargement of the deceased
- Co-ordination or Manpower of related services
- A notice of death in the newspaper
- Travel expenses for the funeral location
- Storage of ashes (urns and niches)
- Booking fee
- Booking fee
Keep in mind that the above lists include all possibilities related to the funeral expense.
Where you can acquire a funeral director for the arrangements?
The funeral director can help you with the arrangements to performing the last rites of your loved ones.
The arrangements are made according to your preferences. Following are the works that the funeral director is charged for:
- He/she is responsible for retrieving a deceased body from the hospital or home.
- Take the body for embalming (if necessary).
- Safely delivering a deceased body to the location of the wake.
Make sure that you hire a funeral director after attaining CCOD or Death Certificate. It allows them to make arrangements for the last rites quickly.
What if you failed to bear funeral expenses?
You can reimburse funeral expenses.
Reimbursement from the deceased’s estates
(A). If the estate value of the deceased person exceeds $50,000.
According to section 67 of the Probate Administration Act, if the estates worth more than $50,000 family members can claim their funeral expenses through the executor (in case a deceased has a will), or through the administrator (in case a deceased has not made a will).
All expenses regarding religious ceremonies and other farewell gatherings done for the deceased are included in this Act.
(B). If the estate’s value of the deceased is $50,000 or less
The Public Trustee bears the expenses of the funeral if the value of the deceased’s estates amounts to $50,000 or less.
Any member of the deceased family whether he/she is beneficiary or non-beneficiary can claim the money for funeral expenses from his/her estate’s monies. Remember the maximum amount that a member can claim from the estates is $6,000.
Non- beneficiary can claim money only if he/she has:
- The copies of funeral expenses receipts show the proof of the incurred expenses.
- The consent regarding the reimbursement from all the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estates.
Although Public Trustee administers the deceased’s estate monies, in some situations it cannot claim the reimbursement of the funeral expenses. This means Public Trustee will not consider your claim for reimbursement of funeral expenses. Such situations are as follows:
- If the estate has liabilities and debts in arrears a claim for reimbursement is not considered.
- If there is dispute and conflicts among the beneficiaries in respect of reimbursement of deceased’s estates.
Thus, it is important to consider the above points before claiming reimbursement of the deceased’s estate monies.
Monies from the deceased’s un-nominated CPF
To claim money from an unnominated CPF, a person must be the beneficiary of a deceased. Non-beneficiaries are not eligible to claim this money.
In case deceased’s beneficiaries are more than one, the beneficiary who is claiming the CPF money must obtain consent from other beneficiaries.
After reimbursing claimed CPF money the remaining amount of CPF (if any) is distributed among the other beneficiaries under section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act.
Monies from the deceased’s life insurance
Life insurance is a legal agreement between the insurer and insured and the money is paid at the time of maturity or at the time of the beneficiary’s death.
However, you can reimburse the funeral expenses from the life insurance policies of decease. Check whether the money has already been claimed earlier and whether you are a beneficiary of the insurance policy or not.
If you are a beneficiary, the insurance company will pay you the total sum of money of the deceased’s insurance policy and you can use that money to carry out the funeral rites.
Monies from the deceased’s bank account
If the deceased’s family is incapable to bear the funeral expenses they might turn towards the bank account of that person in order to carry out a religious ceremony.
As soon as the bank comes across the news about their account holder’s death, it seizes his/her bank account. In this case, only the executor of the deceased’s estate or the surviving joint bank account holder can ask to close the bank account.
This helps in dealing with the GIRO and automatic monthly payment deductions (if any). Plus, it takes care of the safety deposit box of the deceased.
Once the settlement process is complete, you can easily make money from the bank account of the deceased and use it in funeral rites.
What are the ways of protecting a deceased person’s identity?
Close online accounts of the deceased
The emotional link to our loved ones is always there, even if they are gone forever. Therefore, we ensure that their personal belongings and other personal items are kept safe.
Every person in this day and age has an access to the internet. All the personal information (birth dates, password, etc) are on the internet. Even information related to bank accounts, investments, and other depository accounts can be accessed online. Ensure that all those accounts are taken down or discontinued from all digital platforms.
Also, social media sites are another digital platform where personal photos and videos can be seen. So, discontinue those accounts too.
The number of online theft has surged in recent years. Online hackers can sneak into a deceased’s account and can access their personal information.
Therefore, you and your family need to close all the online accounts of a deceased person.
How to protect the funeral/burial of your loved ones from trespassers?
For any unfortunate reason, if you and your deceased loved ones need to deal with intruders at the burial or cemetery, remember that the legislation takes strong action against such incidents.
According to section 297 of the Penal Code any person who trespasses on a funeral or burial ground with the:
- Intent to harm the feelings of any individual, or with the
- The knowledge that he/she may insult the religion of a person or with the
- The knowledge that he/she would likely hurt anyone’s feelings or insult a religion by doing this can result in imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine.
If the intruder does not listen to you and refuses to leave the place, you are free to call the police and let them handle the situation.
Dealing with the financial situation just after the death of your loved ones could be stressful. In this article, we covered all the topics and questions that occur during funeral arrangements and related expenses. In addition, if you are going through a hard time after losing your loved ones and want some help then simply call to Institute of Mental Health (IMH) at 6389-2222.