What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Grief isn’t one-size-fits-all. When you experience loss of any kind, the grief process is different for everyone and can vary depending on the person you’ve lost. For some, they’ll need to jump into arranging funerals immediately, making sure property is taken care of and taking in pets left behind. For others, grief will render them incapable of remembering to turn the light off when they go to sleep. 

We’ve created a checklist of what to remember when you experience the loss of a loved one. This list will help you to navigate the confusing and emotional time of executing a loved one’s end-of-life (EOL) plan. 

1. Find a Funeral Service Provider

A funeral service provider will help you manage the requirements and services necessary when someone has passed on. This provider will help execute your loved one’s end-of-life plan regarding their celebration of life or funeral. If your loved one didn’t have a plan, a funeral service provider can help you create one. 

2. Housekeeping & Stage One Administration

The first thing you must do is obtain the death certificate. In this initial stage, there’s a lot of broad administration that has to be done. You’ll need to determine the executor of the estate and record all decisions made and transactions that take place. You’re also responsible for notifying beneficiaries, Service Canada, the Canadian Passport Office, the Social Insurance Registration, Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), and any other services or status departments applicable. 

If your loved one had health insurance, car insurance, house insurance or any other insurance, you’ll need to contact the insurance provider. Cancel any driver’s licenses, recurring memberships or donations, utilities, subscriptions, or health care cards. Have their mail redirected to an address where you can receive it. Contact the Land Title Office if your loved one owned property to have their name taken off the title of property. If your loved one was renting, contact the landlord as they’re still responsible for any binding contract in the form of a lease. 

Contact a local publication or newspaper with an obituary for print, and if you plan on speaking at the celebration of life, start writing a eulogy. 

If your loved one had pets, you’ll need to find a caregiver for them immediately. Hopefully, your loved one pre-planned for their pet and has a clear succession plan for their pets with a caregiver already lined up. 

3. Legalities

Conduct a search for their will, and contact a lawyer to help you navigate the estate and probate. If there is a will, review it. Be prepared to defend any claims against the estate or probate the will if necessary

4. Finances

Contact the pension plan administrator if your loved one was receiving any additional pension or health and dental benefits. Get in touch with any financial advisors, investment managers, or accountants that your loved one worked with. Reach out to financial institutions where your loved one banked to have accounts transferred to the state or have their name taken off the account in the case of joint accounts. Be sure to cancel credit card cards and prepare to sell real estate or assets, if necessary. 

5. Wrapping It All Up

Pay outstanding debts from the estate. Distribute effects to loved ones and donate any remaining property and personal effects to charity. Obtain a clearance certificate from the CRA and approval of financial statements by the courts. Consult with your accountant and lawyer to ensure that everything is complete. 

As you can see, when a loved one passes away, there’s a lot to manage for those experiencing grief. This can be extremely overwhelming, especially with the time-sensitive nature of many of these steps. The best thing for any of us to do is to have these talks and discussions with each other early on. This way, we can understand where all the necessary files are kept, what needs to be taken care of, and if anything has not been thought of beforehand or needs to be updated. End-of-life planning can be upsetting for many, but a well-thought-out and clear end-of-life plan will help your loved ones grieve your loss with greater ease when you’re gone. Create your Check Out Plan today.