End of life
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Funerals, burials and cremations
When someone close to you dies, you could be faced with making difficult decisions with little preparation. Knowing your rights ahead of time could make this stressful time a little easier. Ontario law protects consumers who are making final arrangements. For example, a funeral, transfer service, cemetery or crematorium operator must give you a current price list of all the supplies and services they offer before you enter into a contract, so you can compare rates. They also need to tell you if they will receive a commission by recommending certain services or suppliers.
By law you have 30 days to cancel a contract for funeral, burial or cremation services and get a full refund for any part of the contract not yet provided.
In addition, all prepaid contracts written as of July 1, 2012 must be guaranteed. This means that if you have paid your contract in full, your service provider must supply everything specified in your contract when you need it and without any additional charges, even if prices have gone up.
Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
Bereavement Authority of Ontario
Bereaved Families of Ontario
This province wide organization is dedicated to bereavement support through self-help and help from peers. Their affiliates offer free individual and group support programs, in both an open and closed setting. While professional help is often beneficial to many, peer programs can provide an additional resource for those who are grieving.
- Find a program in your region.
Wills and estates
A will is a written document in which you indicate how your assets should be distributed upon your death. A will may also help you to take advantage of tax-savings opportunities and tax deferrals that may arise as a result of your death. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer who knows estate law prepare your will. Be careful when using a “Will Kit” as some of these kits may not comply with Ontario law. If you do not sign and witness your will in accordance with the rules of the Succession Law Reform Act, it may not be valid.
When a person dies, it’s important to know if he or she has a will and where it is kept. Some people file their will with local courts or with a lawyer or keep it in a safety deposit box or a drawer at home. The executor of an estate carries out the wishes contained in a will.
If a person dies without a will (intestate), then the estate is distributed according to Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act. The estate may also end up being administered by the Public Guardian and Trustee in certain circumstances if an Ontario resident dies without a will, or with a will but with no one to act as estate trustee. If you have questions about your own will or about being a beneficiary, you should consult a lawyer. Learn more about wills and administering an estate.
Ministry of the Attorney General
Death out of country
If a person dies in another country, contact the nearest Canadian government office in that country for instructions on how to proceed.
Emergency Watch and Response Centre
- Toll-free in Canada:
- Outside Canada:
613-996-8885(collect calls accepted)
Death registration and certificate
After a death, the attending physician or coroner completes the Medical Certificate of Death and gives it to the funeral director with the body of the deceased. To register a death, a family member and the funeral director must complete the Statement of Death with information about the deceased. Once completed, both documents are submitted to the local municipal clerk’s office by the funeral director. Cause of death information gathered from death registrations is used for medical and health research and for statistical purposes.
A funeral director will issue copies of a proof of death that can be used in certain situations, but some organizations may require an official death certificate. You might need a death certificate for:
- settling an estate
- insurance purposes
- access to/termination of government services
- genealogy searches.
Learn how to get a copy of an Ontario death certificate online.
Pensions and benefits
If you are the executor to an estate, you should contact the following (as they relate to the deceased person) to find out about eligibility or to cancel benefits, services or appointments. The executor should also contact former employers of the deceased for information about company pensions and benefits.
Old Age Security Program
Guaranteed Income Supplement
Canada Pension Plan
Guaranteed Annual Income System
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
National Defence Disability and Death Benefits
For more information about survivor benefits, please see the finances section of this guide.
As an executor, you must complete an income tax form for the deceased. You can contact your local tax services office for more information and assistance.
Banks and credit cards
The executor should contact the deceased person’s banks and other financial institutions, and credit card companies to cancel any cards.
Government cards and registries
The executor should contact any government agencies that apply to the deceased person:
- Driver’s Licence and Accessible Parking Permit
- Ontario Health Card
- Outdoors Card
Social Insurance Number (Service Canada)
Canadian and Foreign Passports
Citizenship and Permanent Resident Cards (Immigration and Citizenship Canada)
Indian Status (Indigenous Services Canada)
Firearms Licences (Canadian Firearms Program)
The executor may need to look into selling or transferring ownership of any vehicles, boats, snow machines, ATV’s or trailers, etc. and cancelling or transferring insurance policies.
Learn how to cancel a driver's licence.
The executor may need to:
- determine real estate and property title deeds and property taxes for primary and secondary residences
- ask that mail be redirected or held by the local Canada Post Office
- contact a utility company, cable company, telephone company, electric company within the deceased’s municipality for name changes or cancellations
- arrange newspaper and magazine delivery name changes or cancellations.
Clubs, organizations, services and professional associations
In addition, the following individuals and organizations may need to be contacted:
- heath care practitioners, caregivers or health service organizations
- frequent traveller/buyer cards
- places where the deceased volunteered
- professional organizations where the deceased was a member
- post-secondary institutions where the deceased was an alumna/alumnus.
Last Post Fund
Funeral and burial services, including a military-style grave marker, are available for eligible veterans. These benefits are provided by the Last Post Fund on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada.