Tasks to Do in the 30 Days After Someone Dies

Daniela Fortino
Daniela Fortino
December 15th 2021 - 7 minute read
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After a person in your family dies, there are numerous tasks to handle in the first month. Here is a 30-day post-mortem checklist with details on what to do.

Daniela Fortino

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.

What to do in the 30 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.

The first week after a 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:

  • Reporting the death
  • Notifying friends and family
  • Registering the death
  • Obtaining a burial permit
  • Choosing final disposition options
  • Planning the funeral

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.

Summary of 30-day post mortem checklist

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:

  • Obtain a death certificate
  • Handle their will and estate
  • Handle their finances

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:

  • Settling estate
  • Insurance purposes
  • Accessing or canceling government services (e.g., health card)
  • Researching a family tree

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:

  • First and last name or single name of the person who died
  • Sex of the person who died
  • Date of birth of the person who died
  • Date of death
  • Name of city or town in which death took place
  • Parental information about the person who died
  • Spouse or partner information of the person who died, if applicable

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:

  • Filing an income tax on behalf of the deceased. (See this government guide.)
  • Notifying banks and other financial institutions, such as life insurance companies, financial advisors, and credit agencies, of the death.
  • Contacting the Family Responsibility Office if the deceased pays child or spousal support.

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:

  • Cancel accessible parking permits. This must be returned to Service Ontario within 30 days after someone has died.
  • Cancel their driver's license. If this is done within six months or more before the license expires and there are no outstanding fees, families can apply for a refund. This can be done in person or by mail. A death certificate or notification of death from a police department, a judiciary, or a lawyer is required to cancel or receive a refund.
  • Close credit card accounts. A death certificate, copy of the will, and proof of executor status are typically needed to handle this and other bank matters.
  • Cancel or transfer heat, water, electrical, and internet bills. If a deceased person owns a home, you may consider shutting off these services to save money or transfer them to the individual in charge of the house or to the individuals buying the house (if you have chosen to sell).
  • Cancel insurance policies. Families should contact providers to cancel home, car, and health insurance policies and have unused premiums returned when possible.
  • Close email accounts. For fraud purposes, it is a good idea to cancel email accounts. If the login information is not given to you before death, most email companies require a death certificate and proof of executor/next of kin status to access these accounts.
  • Delete or update social media accounts. Like email accounts, many companies will allow you access to social media accounts by showing proof of ID, death certificate, and potentially proof of executor/next of kin status. Families can choose to delete these accounts or leave them as a memorial for the deceased. It is a good idea to note this is a memorial page so that people are aware of their passing. See more about this here.

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.

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