Note: This article is the second in a two-part series. Click here to see Part 1 which explains what to do in the first seven days after someone dies.
The first month after the death of a loved one can be a hectic time for family and friends. In addition to funeral arrangements, many personal and legal matters need to be handled.
Knowing what your responsibilities are can help relieve some of the stress involved in this process. This article will list some of the tasks that need to be handled within the first month after death.
Most of the time-sensitive tasks need to be handled within the first week after death. You can see an extensive first seven-day checklist in this article. These urgent post-mortem tasks include:
After these tasks have been handled, you can turn to the less urgent but still critical checklist of things that need to be handled in the month that follows a person's death.
Here is a summary of the 30-day post mortem checklist. At a glance, you'll see the tasks that you will need to address. What follows after the list is a detailed explanation of each item:
Obtaining a death certificate
Within the first week after death, you will have registered the death and obtained a burial permit, usually with the help of a funeral provider like Eirene. This paperwork is always completed before a cremation or burial can be conducted.
Once the Medical Certificate of Death and Statement of Death have been submitted to the local municipal clerk's office by a funeral director or family member, it can take up to 12 weeks for the death to be registered in Ontario. You may not receive a death certificate within the first month after death. However, funeral directors will issue copies of proof of death that can be used in the interim for the tasks that follow.
Obtaining a death certificate is vital as it may be required for:
Depending on the circumstances, a certified copy of death registration with the cause of death information may also be required. This may be needed for estate and pension services outside of the country or for some insurance policies.
A death certificate and a certified copy of death registration can be obtained by fax, mail, or in person. To order, you will need:
The processing and delivery time and the cost vary depending on the service type; however, it can take anywhere from five business days to 6-8 weeks to complete and cost $15 to $52.
There are no restrictions on who can apply for a death certificate or the number of death certificates an individual can apply for and receive. However, only the deceased next of kin or executor can apply for the certified copy of the death registration. An authorized representative such as an executor must provide proof of authorization.
More information on the death certificate process can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-get-copy-ontario-death-certificate-online.
Handle their will and estate
The next task is to handle the will, which is a legal document that outlines how estate, assets, and custody of children, if applicable, will be handled after someone's death. If someone dies with a will, it is necessary to determine if the will is legal. A probate court may do this.
If the court determines the will is legal, it also grants probate or approves an appointed administrator, called an executor, to handle the estate. The executor distributes the estate and assets according to the wishes in the will and in accordance with local and federal laws. In some cases, it is necessary to take an inventory of assets before probate can be granted.
When there is no will, Canadian law states that they have died "intestate." This means that they have left no instructions on who will handle the responsibilities that would fall to a named executor. In this case, inheritance rights, funeral arrangements, and other duties will be handled according to the law.
In Canada, this is based on the next of kin, which refers to a person's closest living relative. The relative can be blood-related or a person that has a legal relationship with an individual, such as a spouse. In Canada, the priority of inheritance begins with a spouse and children. If the next of kin cannot be determined, the deceased's estate is transferred to the Ontario government. Learn more about next of kin here. If a loved one dies without a will, it is best to contact a lawyer as estate distribution can be a complex and lengthy process.
Handle their finances
In addition to distributing estate and assets, the executor or next of kin is also required to handle the deceased's finances. In Ontario, this includes:
Close accounts and cancel services
Once most of the legal matters have been taken care of, the executor can close accounts and cancel services. Be sure to notify organizations and levels of government when a loved one dies. Common cancellations can include:
Allow yourself time to grieve
It is important to remember to give yourself time to grieve amidst the post-death tasks. With all the tasks required of family and friends, it is easy to get distracted from your feelings and emotions. However, you must consider your mental and physical health by giving yourself adequate time to process and grieve the death. There are a variety of services available to help you through this. See this article on grief support resources.