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What to do after a loved one passes away

After the passing away of a loved one you may be overwhelmed with the many things that need to be attended to. We hope this information helps to guide you and make the early days after your loss as easy as possible.

  • Who to call first

    Telling people about the passing of a loved one can be difficult and emotionally tiring. Notify these people as soon as possible:

    ☐ Family and friends
    ☐ Both yours and the deceased’s work colleagues and employers
    ☐ The funeral home or transfer service to arrange the transfer of the deceased
    ☐ Executor
    ☐ Religious organization

  • Planning the funeral

    Arranging your loved one’s funeral or memorial service can be overwhelming. Please note: Your loved one may have already made arrangements before they passed away. It is important to respect their wishes.

    To register a death, a family member and the funeral director must complete the Statement of Death with information about the deceased. The funeral home will then provide you with a Proof of Death Certificate, which can be used when contacting: government departments, financial institutions and insurance companies. In Ontario, you must register a death before applying for a Death Certificate

    Depending on how you would like to honour your loved one, you may want to consider these options when making arrangements:

    ☐ Whether they are to be buried, cremated or entombed
    ☐ Service details: visitation period, formal service, reception
    ☐ Prepare an obituary
    ☐ If you would like a charity to receive donations in lieu of flowers
    ☐ Pallbearers, music, pictures, flowers, scriptures, eulogy
    ☐ Clothing that the deceased will be buried or cremated in
    ☐ Open or closed casket
    ☐ Casket selection
    ☐ Arrangements for a headstone
    ☐ Costs

  • Documents to collect

    After someone dies, you will need to gather important papers. You should have as many of the following documents at hand as possible:

    ☐ Death certificate. You can request a death certificate online at Ontario.ca. Click here for more information.
    ☐ Birth Certificate
    ☐ Will
    ☐ Social Insurance card
    ☐ Marriage certificate
    ☐ Birth certificate for any children
    ☐ Insurance policies
    ☐ Deeds and Title to property
    ☐ Automobile title and registration papers
    ☐ Stock certificates
    ☐ Income tax forms

  • Financial considerations

    When someone passes away, the Executor normally sorts out finances and distributes what’s left according to the will.

    If your loved one has passed without a will, the estate will be distributed according to the law. Please contact a lawyer for further advice.

    The Executor has various responsibilities including:

    ☐ Notify the deceased’s insurance company
    ☐ Notify the deceased’s bank and other financial institutions as soon as possible and arrange to meet with a representative to provide proof of death
    ☐ Cancel credit card accounts
    ☐ Pay all final bills
    ☐ Create an inventory of estate assets
    ☐ Complete an income tax form for the deceased. When someone passes away, the Executor has to file a final tax return to find out if the deceased owes any income tax. The CRA has a guide for the legal representative who has to file an income tax which can be found here
    ☐ Contact the following offices to find out eligibility for, or to cancel benefits:

    Federal

    • Canada Child Tax Benefits
    • Veteran Affairs Disability Program Benefits
    • Canada Pension Plan
    • Canada Savings Bonds
    • Goods and Services Tax

    Provincial

    • Guaranteed Annual Income System
    • Ontario Disability Support Program
    • Ontario Drug Benefits
    • Ontario Savings Bonds
    • Ontario Works

    For more information on benefits you may be eligible to receive and how to cancel your loved one’s various benefits from the Government of Canada, please click here.

    The Ontario Government also provides Ontario residents additional information which can be found here.

  • Tying up loose ends

    With so much on your mind it is easy to miss something. This list may help remind you of the other organizations that need to be contacted regarding your loved one’s passing. It is important to remember that the process of settling an estate will take time and it is not necessary to accomplish all these tasks immediately.

    ☐ Cancel telephone, internet and TV service
    ☐ Return government documents

    • Return their passport with a copy of the death certificate to Passport Canada. Further instructions can be found here.
    • Health insurance card and driver’s license. Send a copy of the death certificate, along with the card cut it half (if available) to ServiceOntario.

    ☐ Terminate lease or arrange for sublet of any rental property
    ☐ Make sure residence is secure
    ☐ Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions
    ☐ Contact utility companies: gas, electric, water
    ☐ Inform: GP, dentist, optician, pharmacist and anyone else providing medical care
    ☐ Cancel club memberships
    ☐ Cancel gardening and/or snow clearance contracts
    ☐ Cancel library card
    ☐ Inform charities
    ☐ Inform organizations where they volunteered
    ☐ Arrange for care or adoption of pets
    ☐ Re-route mail
    ☐ Cancel email and website account

  • Caring for yourself

    Although bereavement is a highly personal event, many people go through a range of recognizable reactions and emotions when someone they are close to passes away. Your grief process may include the following: shock and disbelief, anguish and despair, anger, guilt and acceptance. For more information on grief and bereavement, click here.

    There are a variety of organizations that provide support services and useful information you may find helpful such as:

    ☐ Support Groups. To inquire about support groups in your community, call 1-888-939-3333
    ☐ Bereavement Ontario Network
    ☐ Hospice Ontario Information Service
    ☐ Distress Centres of Ontario
    ☐ Canadian Virtual Hospice
    ☐ Bereaved Families of Ontario

    Disclosure:
    The Canadian Cancer Society provides this checklist for informational purposes only.

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