What To Do After Someone Dies – Starting With The Funeral
It can feel daunting when an essential person in your life passes away, especially if you are responsible for handling their affairs.
You might feel robbed of your time to grieve when the burden of carrying out their wishes to planning their funeral rests on your shoulders. Bereavement counselling can help you process your grief and still get stuff done. And delegating tasks to a family member or close friend can help lessen the burden, too.
After your loved one has been pronounced dead by a health care professional, and you’ve notified close friends and family, there’s a long list of things to get done.
For instance, the executor is responsible for carrying out the will and managing paperwork like closing bank accounts, selling off property, and distributing the inheritance.
It can often take a year or more to complete everything that needs to get done after someone dies.
So, where do you even begin as the executor of the will?
The decision-making for funeral arrangements usually happens within the first few days after death. Hopefully, you and your family discussed funeral wishes ahead of time.
But, if you didn’t make plans ahead of time because the death was unexpected, you’re sadly burdened with making important decisions while your grief is still very fresh.
There are many things to consider when it comes to planning a funeral. Should you bury or cremate? What casket should you choose if you decide to bury, and where do you find a headstone graver? If you cremate, will you bury the ashes or keep them in an urn?
And the timing of when you choose to hold the funeral will depend on several factors. If your preference is for an open casket, you should plan to have the funeral within a few days after the death. But if you plan to cremate, the body can be cremated and not affect the date you choose for the funeral.
Factors that can affect when you schedule the funeral:
- If there are people who need to travel from out of town who want to attend, they’ll need a day or two to arrange travel.
- Availability of a funeral home or other facility. Weekends book quickly, so holding the funeral on a weekday will offer more flexibility.
- A legally required autopsy could delay the body’s release by the hospital or coroner.
- Budget can affect funeral plans. If finances are an issue, you can apply for a funeral advance loan.
- The funeral could be delayed if the body needs transferring from another country, province, or city.
Making Funeral Arrangements
Planning the details of a funeral or celebration of life will usually come down to the wishes of the person who has passed. If they were religious, you’ll most likely plan the funeral in a church or synagogue.
Ultimately, a funeral can be held anywhere from a funeral home to a family member’s backyard. The end goal is to allow friends and family to say their final good-byes and remember their life in death.
If you’re working with a funeral home, the funeral director will help guide you in the process. They are well equipped to help you decide how to proceed and have knowledge of major religious requirements regarding scheduling the funeral.
If the funeral was not pre-planned and you’re concerned about decision fatigue, planning through a funeral home might be your best option. The funeral home typically has one fee to cover everything you’ll need.
This basic fee usually covers:
- Filling out forms
- Getting all the necessary permits
- Requesting death certificates
- Coordinating arrangements with religious institutions, cemeteries, or crematoriums and taking care of the remains of the deceased after death.
The funeral director can also help guide you with the small details that are difficult to remember when you’re grieving.
The funeral home may also help organize additional details like ordering flowers, booking a musician, and someone to lead the funeral service. Be sure to ask about these additional details, though, as they are often extras.
Funerals can get costly. In fact, the average cost for a funeral in Canada is $10,000. Financial support is available if you’re struggling to cover all the expenses because you haven’t received the money yet from the estate.
Celebration Of Life
With nearly 60% of Canadians opting for cremation over burial, celebrations of life have also increased in popularity. And because they aren’t dependent on the body, there is more flexibility with dates.
While funerals are often reserved for more traditional or spiritually-minded folks, a celebration of life focuses on how the deceased lived and their unique personality.
As the executor of your loved one’s estate, you are responsible for filing their last tax return and any outstanding returns. The tax forms you’ll need for filing will vary by province.
If there is a large estate or complicated tax return to file, you may want to work with an accountant to ensure nothing is missed. If beneficiaries are waiting to receive their inheritance, an accountant is recommended to avoid delay.
Once taxes are filed and any taxes owed have been paid, you can apply for a clearance certification from the CRA. This certification, though not required, can take up to 120 days. But once received, you can distribute estate assets without any personal liability.
Quebec residents will need to file an additional Trust Income Tax Return.
Communicate To Beneficiaries
Add communicating regularly with beneficiaries to the endless list of things to do as the executor. They will each need a copy of the will and what assets have been left to them if any.
And they’ll most likely want to be kept up to date on funeral plans or even offer to lend a hand. Setting up a group email can inform everyone at once and help save time.
You should not take your responsibility as an estate executor lightly. If you find yourself in a position where you don’t think you’ll be able to fulfill your duties, it’s a good idea to hand it over to someone who can.
Because if the entire settlement process isn’t completed promptly, the executor can risk being sued by heirs – especially if errors result in a loss to beneficiaries.
Executors can be held personally responsible for any errors. If you’re the executor of a will and find you aren’t able to financially keep up with expenses First Inheritance can offer assistance until funds are released from the estate.
Additional Considerations After Someone Dies
Closing out an estate requires serious attention to detail and time commitment. Many important details can be delegated to professionals and family members. Still, many tiny details are easily overlooked when you’re busy with your own life, grieving for your loss, and managing additional paperwork and planning.
Here is a list of items you may not think about doing but may need doing:
- Cancel subscriptions and bills like cable and utilities
- Shut down social profiles
- Notify your provincial driver’s license authority
- Ask the post office to hold or return mail after a period of time
- Alert life insurance companies
- If you haven’t already shared the news, any clubs or church organizations that the deceased was a part of will want to know
- Tell the landlord if they were renting
- Notify credit card companies in case payments are due
As you can see, the responsibilities are vast. No one should have to tackle everything alone, even if you are the executor. Asking for help is vital to ensuring everything is taken care of in a reasonable time frame.
When The Costs Pile Up
Paying out of pocket for many services and court fees isn’t ideal for most people. If there is money in the estate, it will cover costs, but it can’t release funds until the estate is fully settled.
If you’re struggling and need assistance while you sort through the paperwork, plan the funeral, and grieve your loved one, First Inheritance can offer financial assistance to help you during a difficult time.
Funeral Advance Loans
Final arrangements for a loved one often requires planning several elements and making choices. We can help ease the financial stress by financing funeral costs.