What to do when someone dies

Coping with the death of a loved one is difficult. We’ve created a step-by-step guide to help make things a bit easier, with some of the common questions on what to do when a loved one dies in Ontario.
Prefer to speak to a licensed funeral director? We’re available 24/7 to support you as you navigate this process.

Who to call first

If the death was expected, call the physician who was caring for the deceased person. If unexpected, call emergency services (911). If there are no available doctors or emergency services in your area, you can contact your local coroner’s office. If you’re unsure who to call, call the local coroner’s office or the Chief Coroner of Ontario for guidance.

At this time, you will receive a medical certificate of death (MCOD) detailing the cause of death. If the death occurred at a hospital, you will receive it from a member of staff. If someone dies at home and they’re in palliative care, you’ll be given a yellow folder with instructions on who to call upon death. The doctor or nurse who pronounces then leaves the MCOD with the family.

If someone dies at home unexpectedly, the police should be called and they will contact the coroner. The coroner will pronounce and issue the MCOD.

Speak to our team 24/7:

You can contact our team via phone at 647-424-3408. We answer the phone and respond to email queries 24 hours per day / seven days per week.

Organ and tissue donation

If the deceased was an organ or tissue donor, contact the Trillium Gift of Life Network as soon as possible at 1-877-363-8546. Organ and tissue donation will not impact funeral plans, and cremation is still possible.

If it was the deceased’s wish for their body to be donated to science, please contact a School of Anatomy directly. For more information, you may also contact the Office of the Chief Coroner at 1-877-991-9959.

Arranging the funeral

If you’ve chosen Eirene to care for your loved one, we will bring them into our care, carry out a private cremation or aquamation and hand-deliver the remains to you. We help with all required paperwork, provide unlimited proof of death certificates, and include an estate administration tool to close accounts and notify the government. Eirene provides the flexibility to make meaningful, personalized memorial arrangements at a later date.

If your loved one created a will, they may have included funeral wishes to help guide you through the process. If you want to speak to a licensed funeral director about your options, please give us a call.

Am I required to use a funeral service provider?

In Ontario, it is legal for families to make arrangements without using a funeral service provider. Consult the Bereavement Authority of Ontario’s Guide to Death Care in Ontario for general information when making arrangements.

How much does a funeral cost?

The average Canadian pays $5000 for a cremation, with traditional burials costing upwards of $20,000. These numbers can vary widely based on your location and funeral provider, as highlighted in the most recent Auditor General’s report.

In comparison, Eirene’s cremation services cost $2500 plus HST, with no hidden fees or surprise bills. We cover everything from collecting your loved one, sheltering them in a secure location, carrying out a private cremation, and returning their cremated remains to you.

What happens if I can't pay for a funeral?

At Eirene, we believe that everyone deserves a dignified and respectful funeral. If you are in need of financial assistance with your end-of-life process, you have options.

The government provides social support through Ontario Works, and if your loved one was receiving Canada Pension Plan benefits, you can apply for the Death Benefit. Learn more about financial support through the Government here. Eirene also offers the ability to finance your cremation or aquamation arrangements and pay in monthly installments.

Register the death

Registering the death with the Office of the Registrar provides a burial permit and allows you to proceed with the cremation, burial or alkaline hydrolysis. Eirene’s team of licensed funeral directors will oversee the process of registering the death, but if you opt-out of using a funeral service provider, a family member can also register the death in the municipality where the death occurred.

Registering a death requires two documents:

  • Medical Certificate of Death, a form that the attending doctor or a coroner completes. It outlines the cause of death as discussed in the first section.

  • Statement of Death, a form that the funeral director and an informant (usually a family member) completes. It includes personal information about the deceased, such as family history, age at death and place of death.

Who can register a death?

Deaths are usually registered by someone related to the person who died, a next of kin or executor.

How much does it cost to register a death?

The cost of registering a death varies by city, ranging from $25 to $50. This cost is included in Eirene’s package.

How many death certificates do I need?

There are two types of death certificates, and the amount you need is entirely dependent on how complex the estate is.

Proof of death certificates: Proof of death certificates may be used for matters like claiming insurance, settling the estate and dealing with bank accounts. At Eirene, we provide unlimited proof of death certificates.

Death certificates: In some cases, a certified death certificate from the Province of Ontario is required for estate purposes. You can find out more on the ServiceOntario website, and our care team are always happy to help you navigate the application process.

You may need a death certificate to:

  • settle and estate

  • access insurance benefits

  • access or cancel certain government services (for example: health card, pension)

  • research a family tree

Note that most financial institutions require official copies of the death certificate, and do not accept photocopies.

Wills and estates

After someone has died, it’s best to check if the deceased has a will. A will is a legal document that sets out who will inherit property, possessions and other personal items. A copy could be in their home, safety deposit box, online or with their lawyer.

To find out if a will has been filed, you can contact the estates division of the local Ontario court in the community where the deceased lived.

Apply for probate

Before you can distribute assets to beneficiaries, you may need to apply for probate. Have an estate to settle? As an Eirene Cremations customer, you can book your free consultation to learn the best path forward with our partner ClearEstate.

Who to notify

You may need to notify certain organizations or levels of government when a loved one dies, to access or cancel certain services and/or benefits. In an effort to provide continued support to our families, the Eirene package includes access to the Closing Affairs Connected website. This widely used guide for executors and administrators will give you detailed instructions on completing the tasks associated with closing an estate, with or without a will.

This tool provides:

  • Contact information is provided for all relevant government agencies

  • Form letters are provided for all necessary functions. They will fill out essential letters, send them to the executor for signature, and deliver to the relevant agencies and businesses

  • Notify the credit bureaus of the death on your behalf and provide you with a confirmation certificate

  • Provide access to customer support by phone or email to help with any issues

If you are the executor, you will also need to:

Grief support

Grief is a natural and universal process. Far from being negative, grieving is the way we heal. It takes time and effort. We love, and so we grieve. Eirene has partnered with BetterHelp to provide emotional support to families who have lost a loved one.

Speak to our team 24/7:

You can contact our team via phone at 647-424-3408. We answer the phone and respond to email queries 24 hours per day / seven days per week.