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The Documents You Need When a Loved One Dies

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The Documents You Need When a Loved One Dies


When a loved one dies, what responsibilities will you face? If you’re the executor of the estate, you’ll have much to do. But even if you haven’t been named executor or legal representative, you’ll need to collect and process several legal and financial documents, including:

Death certificate. You can typically obtain a death certificate from the funeral home. You may need multiple copies, so you can provide the certificate to financial institutions, government agencies and insurers.

Final income tax return. Although Canada has no inheritance tax, an individual’s death can trigger income taxes that must be paid by the estate. Typically, the executor must file the deceased’s final income tax return and advise the CRA and Service Canada of the date of death.

List of assets. You’ll need to compile a list of your loved one’s financial assets, such as bank accounts, investments and insurance policies. If you’re the executor, you’ll also need to contact any beneficiaries of these accounts.

Copy of Last Will and Testament. You’ll need to locate your loved one’s Last Will and Testament, including any codicils (supplements) and probate documents.

Copy of trust document. Many people create a trust arrangement, in addition to a Will. If your loved one has established a trust, you’ll also need to obtain the trust document as part of the estate settlement process.

If you’ll be at least somewhat responsible for your loved ones’ estates, communicate with them while they are alive and well, so they can tell you where they keep their important documents and provide you with the names of their legal and financial professionals. Getting an early start will help you immensely when it’s time to follow the paper trail.

Categorized under: financial-planning, funeral

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