Dealing with the death of a loved one is stressful enough, and trying to sort out all of the issues that need to be addressed once the estate has been settled often poses an additional burden. To help simplify those mandatory must-dos, here’s a quick checklist of seven administrative tasks you should complete sooner rather than later.
1. Designating new beneficiaries
If your late spouse was the only beneficiary of your life insurance, pension plan, and other registered accounts, you will need to contact the administrator to name a new beneficiary or designate your estate as your beneficiary. In Quebec, you’ll need to review your will, as beneficiaries designated in registered accounts held with a financial institution are not recognized.
Review your estate plan and tax situation with your financial planner before you update your beneficiary designations, to make sure that they are consistent with your overall plan.
2. Drafting new wills and Powers of Attorney
Now is the time to review your will and Powers of Attorney (POA). If your spouse was named your sole executor (liquidator in Quebec) or beneficiary, you will need to update your will. If he or she was the only person named on your POA (or Protection Mandate in Quebec), you will also need to draw up new documents and choose a new attorney (or mandatary in Quebec).
3. Notifying government agencies
If your spouse was receiving Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan income, Quebec Pension Plan income or Employment Insurance, you will need to notify Service Canada or Services Québec of your spouse’s death. Their website tells you how to cancel these benefits or transfer them to the surviving spouse.
4. Cancelling government-issued cards
You will need to cancel government-issued documents such as your spouse’s passport, health card and Social Insurance Number card. Send your spouse’s passport to Passport Canada with a copy of the death certificate, and a letter that states whether the passport should be destroyed or cancelled and returned to you.
If you are an Ontario resident, you must return your spouse’s health card to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a Change of Information form (280-82) and a copy of the death certificate. Instead of using the Change of Information form, you can send a letter to Service Ontario with your spouse’s name, date of birth, sex and health card number.
For Quebec residents, the Régie de l’assurance maladie must be notified when a person dies. If the death occurs in Quebec, it must be reported to the Directeur de l’état civil by means of a form provided by the funeral director. The Directeur de l’état civil will notify the Régie. The deceased person’s Health Insurance Card may be given to the funeral director, or it may be returned to the Régie directly.
Deaths that occur outside Quebec must be reported to the Régie by phone or in person during office hours, and the deceased person’s card must be returned to the Régie.
You only need to notify the SIN program of your spouse’s passing if they died in one of the territories or outside of Canada. If they died in one of the provinces, the SIN program will automatically be notified by the provincial vital statistics agency.
5. Changing ownership of assets
If your home was in your spouse’s name only, or if you were joint owners, you will need to send a letter to the land registry office with the following information to change the ownership: death certificate of deceased spouse, new owner’s full name, property address, assessment roll number, mailing address and signature. You will also need to change the ownership registration of your car if it was in your spouse’s name. Changing ownership of assets is not applicable to residents of Quebec. In Quebec law, the transfer of assets would flow through the liquidation of the estate.
6. Updating account information
If the bills for your phone, internet, utilities and other household expenses were addressed to your spouse, you may want to notify the relevant companies that they have passed away. Depending on the company, it may be as easy as a phone call – or it could involve extensive paperwork.
7. Sending other notifications
Notify your employer or health insurance provider of your spouse’s death if they were named on your plan. You may also want to advise your doctor and pharmacist. If you were named on your deceased spouse’s plan, your coverage will terminate so you will need to make alternative plans for health care coverage.
Making good decisions amidst your grief is necessary but can be challenging, so it’s a good idea to seek advice from someone knowledgeable whom you trust. Your financial planner can help you create a comprehensive list of any additional duties you should consider, and rate their priority level.
Marcy Ages, T.E. Wealth, Toronto
Quebec content: Karen Hennessy, T.E. Wealth, Montreal
This article was published in T.E. Wealth’s Strategies newsletter, May 2017 edition. Read the full edition here.
These articles are for general informational purposes only. Please obtain professional advice before taking any action based on this information. No endorsement or approval of any third parties or their advice, information, products or services should be implied by any references to third parties contained in any article. Trademarks cited in these articles are the respective properties of their owners.