First Month After Death

Show Table of Contents Phases of the Moon Representing One Month

In addition to the tasks outlined in First Week, here are some of the key tasks you should be accomplishing in the first month.

Get Organized

Set up some file folders to keep things such as physical receipts, appraisals, bills of sale, death certificates, etc. It probably goes without saying, but license your copy of EstateExec from the estate's Overview tab.

Decide if You Want/Need a Lawyer

Having a lawyer's help can be invaluable. They deal with this process every day; you've probably never done it in your life. That being said, many people opt to save thousands of dollars and handle things themselves. See Do I Need a Lawyer?.

Start to Inventory the Estate

Start to collect information about estate assets (real estate, stocks, collectibles, etc.) and estate debts (mortgages, loans, etc.). This will likely take months to fully complete, as you gradually uncover hidden treasures and bills, and you may have to wait for Notice of Death statutory durations. See Taking Inventory for extensive help with the overall inventory process.

Keep Things Running

Part of your duty as executor during this time is to keep things running (businesses, households, etc.). For example, make sure any home is being maintained, and that the utility bills are being paid, etc. In fact, utility companies are notoriously aggressive about this, and missing a bill by a few days may trigger them to cut off services (try to avoid this). Please be aware, however, that you are not personally responsible for any debts, so if the estate will likely not have the funds to reimburse you, you should decide carefully whether you want to pay any of these bills.

Protect Unoccupied Property

If the estate includes a home that is now vacant or unoccupied, you may want to take additional steps to protect it, since such properties are more vulnerable (to theft, vandalism, squatters, broken pipes that go unnoticed, etc.). You may want to periodically check in on the property, and to consider hiring an alarm company, as well as a gardener to keep it looking lived-in. You should also be aware that insurance companies have special rules for vacant or unoccupied homes, and you may need to take action to ensure the home continues to be covered (see Consumer Reports and insurance considerations).

Notify the CRA

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must be notified of the decedent's death as soon as possible. You can call 1-800-959-8281 or complete a CRA Records Update Form (at the end of the document) and send it to a local tax services office or tax centre.

The Canada Revenue Agency: What To Do Following a Death covers several other situations you may need to handle, such as arranging to stop or transfer ongoing GST/HST, CWB, or CCB payments.

Notify other Government Agencies

There are a number of other government agencies you that you may need to contact, including:

  • Service Canada must be notified of the deceased's death by the end of the month. You can call 1-800-622-6232, or contact a local Service Canada office.
  • If the deceased was receiving Old Age Security (OAS) or Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits, these benefits must be cancelled. Benefits are payable for the month in which the death occurs; benefits received after that must be repaid.
  • If the deceased was receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, you need to cancel those. If the deceased was eligible for EI but had not applied, you can retroactively apply for a lump sum payment. See Deceased EI Benefits.
  • If the deceased had any student loans, you can get any remaining federal balances forgiven by contacting the National Student Loan Service Centre. Contact the appropriate provincial or territorial student aid office for the local part of the loan.
  • The deceased's provincial Health Insurance Plan will normally already be aware of the situation, but if he or she died out of the province or under other unusual circumstances, you may need to notify them.

Note that the Canadian government provides an excellent tool for determining which agencies you need to notify.

Cancel Unneeded Services

Cancel the decedent's cell phone service, Internet access, cable TV, etc. If the decedent was renting a residence, notify the landlord and determine how best to terminate any lease. But don't cut off things like electricity or water until the residence, whether rented or owned, has been handled!

Similarly, don't terminate any insurance until that insurance is no longer needed. That being said, you should proceed to contact any private health insurance plans maintained by the decedent, and follow their procedures for a death.

See also First 3 Months.

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