What to Do When Someone Dies

Everything You Need to Know

What to Do When Someone Dies: Everything You Need to Know - Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Death is a fact of life we must all face at some point. Whether the death is anticipated or unexpected, we will be confronted with diverse emotions and critical decisions during a difficult time. We hope the information and resources gathered on this site will be of assistance to you.

Who to call first:

  • Call the attending physician if there is an expected death. If the death is unexpected call 911.  If there is no doctor available, and no emergency services in your area, or you are concerned or uncertain about the circumstances surrounding a death, contact your local coroner’s office or the Office of the Chief Coroner.
  • If your arrangements will include a funeral or a direct disposition you may contact a funeral home or a transfer service. Funeral directors can help you make all the arrangements for funerals. For more information, contact the Board of Funeral Services.
  • Should your arrangements also include burial or cremation the cemetery or crematorium you choose can help you make the necessary arrangements. If you have questions relating to cemeteries and crematoriums and the services and supplies that they offer, contact the Ministry of Government Services, Cemeteries Section (416-326-8393 / 1 800 268-1142).
  • Get a death certificate.  You can apply for a death certificate at any time, but it cannot be issued until a death is registered.  You may need an original or certified copy of this certificate to:

    • settle an estate
    • access insurance benefits
    • access or cancel certain government services (e.g., health card, pension)
    • research a family tree

    Who can request: next of kin, an executor or estate administrator.

There are organizations such as Bereaved Families of Ontario, the Ontario Psychological Association, and Distress Centres and Social Services, who can help you through this time.

Death Out of Country: To report the death of a Canadian citizen who has died abroad, contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate abroad or the Emergency Operations Centre of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

With a Will

If the deceased has a will, a “probate” court may or may not need to determine that it is legal.If a court determines that a will is legal, it also grants “probate” – or approves – a trustee to carry out the wishes of the deceased person. This trustee is often named in a will.

If you are named as the estate trustee (also called the “executor”), you are authorized to administer the estate of the deceased person. You are considered the deceased person’s personal representative, and will carry out their wishes as stated in the will.

Without a Will

If the person dies without a will, the estate will be distributed according to the law. You may want to contact a lawyer. If someone passes away and there are no relatives in Ontario, you may wish to call the Estates Section of the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee to discuss what to do next.

Vehicles, Property and Other Information


The executor may need to look into the following:

  • Automobile insurance companies
  • Canadian Automobile Association
  • Car ownership
  • Accessible parking permit


The executor may need to look into the following:

  • Home insurance
  • Real estate and property title deeds, property taxes
  • Mail to be redirected or held by your local Post Office
  • Utility company, cable company, telephone company, electric company within your municipality for any name changes or cancellations
  • Land Transfer Tax
  • Land Transfer – Wills and Estates

Clubs, Organizations, Services, and Professional Associations

The following may need to be contacted:

  • Frequent travelers/buyers cards
  • Places where the deceased volunteered
  • Professional organizations where the deceased was a member
  • Post-secondary institutions where the deceased was an alumnus
  • Caregivers or other health service organizations

Canada Pension Plan benefits

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) offers benefits to the families of deceased CPP contributors who qualify.

Death benefit

A one-time lump-sum payment of up to $2,500 is available to help with funeral expenses.

Survivor’s pension

A monthly pension is available to people whose spouse or common-law partner has died. Payment amounts and eligibility for survivors take into account age, disability and dependent children.

Children’s benefit

A monthly benefit is available for dependent children under the age of 18 or between 18 and 25 and in school full time.

Old Age Security benefits

The Old Age Security (OAS) program also offers benefits for survivors.

Allowance for the survivor

A monthly benefit is available for low-income widowed spouses or surviving common-law partners who are between 60 and 64 and meet the residence requirements.

How do I apply?

You will need an application form. You can get what you need by contacting Social Development CanadaCall 1 800 277-9914.

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