With the death of a loved one comes the realization that there are important family matters to be settled and many business, legal and financial decisions to be made. Often, the person who must take charge is the one least prepared to do so. To assist the widowed, and any other persons who are called upon to help settle the estate of a deceased relative or friend, we have compiled the following information on whom to see, what organizations to contact, and where to go for help.

Please realize that the following is only a general guide which may or may not apply in your specific circumstances.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Snodgrass Funeral Homes at either location.

Okotoks: (403) 938-3111  |  High River: (403) 652-2222


Assemble Important Papers
Gather Bills
Duties Of The Executor of a Will
Canada Pension Plan Benefits
Company/Union Benefits
Victims of Crime Financial Benefits
Last Post
Transportation Assistance
Worker's Compensation
Check With Other Organizations
Sample Letters
Revenue Canada

Legal complications may arise when settling an estate and distributing the assets even if it appears to be a relatively small estate. A lawyer can explain whether or not the estate must be probated and can assist in the completion of forms. If there is no will, the lawyer can explain the legal steps necessary to clear the estate. If you do not have a family lawyer, and feel that you would like legal advice, we would suggest that you contact the LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE BY TELEPHONING (403) 228-1722. There is a nominal charge only.

Probate is a procedure to obtain Court approval that the will is officially recognized as the deceased's last Will and Testament, and that the named Executor is the proper legal representative of the estate. If the will has to be probated a lawyer can explain the various steps to be taken. If probate is necessary, the following will be required:

  • The original of the Will
  • Names and addresses of all beneficiaries
  • Location of all assets, including bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mortgages, lands (including copies of the title if available), and valuable personal household effects, automobiles, and other property.
  • Place and date of filing of last income tax return.
  • Birth and Marriage Certificates of the surviving spouse. Joint bank accounts may be changed into the name of the surviving spouse prior to probate being granted by the presentation to the bank of a death certificate. A notarized copy or even a photocopy may suffice. It does not have to be an original death certificate. Title to a property owned in joint tenancy may be transferred into the name of the surviving spouse prior to probate being granted by presenting to the Land Titles office a Funeral Director's Statement of Death. Title to an automobile or vehicle owned in joint tenancy may be transferred into the name of the surviving spouse prior to probate being granted by presenting to the Motor Vehicles Department an original death certificate. A prescribed form must be filled out and a small fee paid.




  • Life insurance, disability insurance and general insurance policies.
  • Business agreements, bank books, notes receivable or payable, stocks or bond certificates.
  • Real estate deeds
  • Wills, recent copies of income tax returns
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Marriage, Birth and Death Certificates
  • Military papers, automobile registrations and insurance
  • all recent contracts

It is almost always necessary to have a witness present when opening a safety deposit box. Official Death Certificates and copies of birth and marriage certificates may be necessary before claims can be made for life insurance proceeds or for benefits from business and government agencies, (an application for these certificates is available upon request from the funeral home). DO NOT discard any official looking documents, even if it appears to have been terminated, without checking first with a lawyer, or the organization concerned. Income Tax returns must be held for five years. Life insurance policies, even though premiums have not been paid for a number of years, may still be in force through an automatic agreement stated in the policy.



Some loans, service contracts and credit card accounts are life insured and paid up automatically when a client passes away. Check with all companies where the deceased has accounts payable.

Many bills must be paid on the due date. Review cancelled cheques over the past several months to determine whether or not a bill has been paid. Beware of any unethical door-to-door sales persons at this time; especially representing themselves as delivering/collecting for something authorized by the deceased.

Request friends or neighbours to be alert as to the security of the residence of the deceased during the time period following the death and the funeral service.




(reprinted from The Legal Review, October, 1980)

What has to be done after the death of a person who has left a will? This article will discuss this question from the executor's point of view.

When a person dies, his/her estate has to be administered. This means that funeral arrangements must be made, all debts and income taxes must be paid and all possessions distributed to those entitle to inherit. Before this distribution of assets, a court normally has to grant probate, this is, approve the will.

The person responsible for seeing these things are done is the EXECUTOR named in the will. If there is no will, or no executor named, the court will appoint an administrator to do the things the executor would otherwise do. The person appointed is usually a close relative of the deceased. If there is no relative who can act, the Public Trustee, who is a lawyer employed by the Government, will be appointed instead. If the person named as executor is a woman, she is formally known as the EXECUTRIX. In order to simplify matters, we will use the word executor, the pronoun he, although the actual executor could be a man, woman or a trust company.

No one is obliged to assume the duties of an executor. If you find that you have been named executor in someone's will, you have the right to refuse the job. If you agreed to act as executor, you have the right to change your mind. As well, no one should appoint a person as executor without first getting his permission.
All expenses in connection with administering an estate are paid out of the estate. The executor, or administrator, is entitled to be reimbursed for his expenses, and can charge a fee for his time and effort, in a reasonable amount. If there is more than one executor, the fee is split between them. Each cannot charge a separate fee.

As the executor, your first duty is to obtain the original copy of the last will of the deceased. Without it, you cannot prove that you are in fact the executor and thus able to act for the estate. Also, the will may contain instructions for the funeral, so you should read it before making funeral arrangements. You should be sure that the will you have is the last will of the deceased. He may have made a new will just before his death. If you don't know where the will is, and if it is neither among the papers of the deceased, nor in his lawyer's office, then it will probably be found in a safety deposit box at his bank. Actually, it is not a good idea to keep one's will in a deposit box, but many people do. The reason is that, at least in theory, nothing can be removed from a deposit box after the owner's death until the estate has been administered. Fortunately, banks normally take the reasonable approach, and allow the executor to inspect the contents and remove the will.

You will need to bring the key to the box, some proof of the owner's death, such as a medical certificate of death and some means of identifying yourself and your relationship to the deceased.

Next, it is your duty to see that arrangements are made for the funeral and to pay all expenses in this regard. If there is no ready money for these expenses, such as insurance money, you can ask the appropriate bank or credit union to let you, as the executor, withdraw the necessary funds from the account of the deceased. Funeral expenses, like debts, are to be paid off the top of the estate, before any gifts can be handed out.

As the executor, you have the ultimate say about what kind of funeral to have. However, you will take into account the wishes of the deceased and the next of kin. If the deceased left binding instructions to donate all or part of his body to medical research you are required by law to honour these instructions if it is possible to do so. You should not permit anyone to talk you into a funeral that is needlessly expensive. If you spend too much with the result that there is little left in the estate for the beneficiaries to share, they could take you to court, where you could be ordered to pay the excess costs of the funeral out of your own pocket.

The next duty of the executor is to make a complete inventory of all assets and liabilities or debts of the estate. You should try to determine the value of the assets. Don't forget debts owing to the deceased such as unpaid wages and other employment benefits.

Contact the deceased person's bank. If he/she had a safety deposit box you will be able to inspect the contents and make a list of them upon proving that you are the executor. But you cannot remove anything from the box until the will has been probated except as mentioned previously, the will itself, if it was kept in the box.

In making an inventory of the assets of the deceased, you should not include any property such as land or bank accounts held in joint names of the deceased with another person, nor any life insurance proceeds which are payable to a named individual. These assets do not form part of the estate, but pass directly to the person named. This usually means that funds held in a joint bank account can be withdrawn immediately by the other person.

To obtain title to jointly held property, an application accompanied by a Death Certificate (Funeral Directors Statement Of Death) has to be filed at the Land Title Office. The Death Certificate can be obtained from the Provincial Division of Vital Statistics. You also need a Death Certificate to collect the proceeds of a life insurance policy. Contact the life insurance company immediately in order to collect the money as soon as possible.

As the executor, it is also your duty to see that the immediate next of kin (those relying on the deceased for financial support) have enough money to live on while waiting for the will to be probated. Generally, the assets of the estate will be frozen for several months. If there are no joint bank accounts or insurance funds, the executor will have to arrange for other funds for the next of kin.



The death benefit for a maximum contributor is $2500.00. The maximum survivors benefit (for widows or widowers) is set as $410.70 for persons under the age of 65, and $446.87 for persons over the age of 65. Orphans and children of disabled pensioners will get a maximum of $169.80.

If the surviving spouse is under the age of 35, is not disabled, and has no dependent children, he/she will not be entitled to a survivors benefit until he/she reaches the age of 65.

The funeral home will provide Funeral Directors Statement of Death, which is one of the documents required to apply for the Canada pension benefits. We suggest that families contact the Canada Pension office before going to apply for the benefits as additional information may be required. The address to contact is:

Canada Pension
155 Canada Place
9700 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 4C2

In order to be eligible for these benefits, the deceased must have contributed to the plan for a period of seven (7) consecutive years, after their eighteenth (18) birthday. The plan has been in effect since January 1, 1966.

If the deceased was receiving Canada pension already, the estimate benefit to the estate would be six (6) times the monthly benefit the deceased was receiving.



If the deceased was working, the family should check for benefits available from his/her employer or union.



The crime must have occurred in Alberta. The board requires documentation to substantiate all claims made to them.

Forms are available from:

Victims of Crime Financial Benefit Program
10th Floor, 1036597 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3W7
Telephone: 310-000 ask operator to connect you to 427-7217

Following a hearing, the Board reviews the application and all of the evidence obtained. They then make a decision if compensation for funeral expenses can be awarded. A maximum benefit of $12,500 can be awarded to be used at the discretion of the surviving family. The board cannot compensate for injures caused by motor vehicles.



The amount of life insurance in an estate is often more money than most people are accustomed to handling at one time. It is important to remember that the life insurance proceeds may be received in a number of ways and that income may be more important than a lump sum.

Following are the common settlement options:

Interest Only:
The principal remains with the insurance company and interest is paid periodically. Provisions can be made for withdrawal of money at anytime.

Life Income or Annuity:
The company will pay a stipulated amount of money on set dates for the life of the beneficiary.

Fixed Installments:
Proceeds are paid according to the needs of the beneficiary in agreed upon amounts over an agreed upon period of time.



For assistance with funeral costs from Last Post the family must deal directly with Last Post office in Edmonton. Telephone 1-800-495-3766.

For eligibility to be considered on the basis of service during wartime, the deceased person must have served on active duty, in a defined category, during World War I, World War II, or the Korean Conflict.

(1) Resistance fighters will no longer be considered as having the necessary service eligibility to qualify for funeral and burial benefits through the Last Post Fund for which Veterans Affairs would pay.

(2) World War I and II, Allied veterans who are in receipt of benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada will be considered as having the necessary service eligibility to qualify for funeral and burial benefits through the Last Post Fund for which Veterans Affairs would pay.


The Veteran's estate as a whole must be taken into consideration. There are NO EXCEPTIONS. Single Veterans are covered only if there is insufficient money in the estate to cover costs.

Funeral and burial benefits through the Last Post Fund can be considered if the total value of the veteran's estate is deemed insufficient to cover the costs of dignified funeral and burial services (including the placement of an appropriate grave marker).

The veteran's estate and the assets of the surviving spouse must be taken into consideration.

Funeral and burial benefits through the Last Post Fund may be considered if the net value of the veteran's estate and the assets of the surviving spouse (less a basic monetary exemption of $12.015.00) are deemed insufficient to cover the costs of a dignified funeral and burial service (including the placement of an appropriate grave marker).

The principle residence and one vehicle are exempt in calculating estate assets. All other assets of BOTH the veteran and spouse are counted:

  • Cash in hand or in bank accounts.
  • Other holdings (cottage, income property, commercial property, land and farm properties).
  • Market value of vehicle's including RVs, boats, trailers, etc.
  • Death benefits paid to spouse from CPP or QPP.
  • Insurance payable at death to estate or surviving spouse.
  • Public Trust monies released at death to estate or surviving spouse.
  • Stocks, bonds, securities, RRSP's, RRIF's, GIC's or other similar assets.
  • Regular cheques for month of death, e.g. Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement.
  • Veteran's prepaid funeral and burial expenses.
  • Other assets.

All uninsured liabilities are required to be listed, e.g. charge accounts, Visa, Master Card, etc.

Once all the forgoing financial information is received, eligibility for married veterans is determined by adding all assets, less uninsured liabilities, less funeral and burial costs. Should the final calculation be less than $12,015.00 the veteran qualifies for Last Post Fund benefits.

The Last Post Fund will arrange for payment to be made to the Funeral director, up to the maximum of $2993.00 (plus G.S.T.).

The purchase of a single grave, opening and closing, perpetual care costs.
Where required by cemetery by-laws or by provincial or municipal laws the cost of a grave liner will be paid.

Payment of the costs of supplying and installing grave markers on unmarked graves will be limited to cases where the funeral and burial has been arranged for under the auspices of the Last Post.

The Last Post Fund will arrange for payment to be made to the Funeral Director, up to the cost of $2993.00 (plus G.S.T.).

If viewing is requested, the rental of a casket that meets the specifications must be used.

The cost of the urn must not exceed $350.00 and must be included in the maximum payment of $2993.00.

In the event of direct removal and cremation, the cost of the urn up to $350.00 may be charged (plus G.S.T.).

Interment costs, including opening and closing, and perpetual care cost and the placing of a marker may be charged (plus G.S.T.).

Interment costs, including opening and closing, and perpetual care cost and the placing of a marker may be charged (plus G.S.T.).



Check with your airline as to the availability of Compassionate Fare discounts. Each airline operates differently. If a discount is offered, you will need a copy of the Funeral Directors Statement of Death provided by your Funeral Director.



The board will pay the sum of $1,300.00 to a dependent widow or widower as a contribution to the additional expenses occasioned upon the death of a worker.

It will also pay necessary expenses of the burial, cremation or memorial service of the worker, not exceeding $8150.00.

When the death occurs away from the worker's usual place of residence, and it seems necessary to the Board that transportation of the deceased is desirable, the Board will pay the necessary expense not exceeding $550.00 of transporting the deceased from the place of death to the usual place of residence within the province ($1,000.00 if the usual place of residence is outside of Alberta).

You may contact them at:
Worker's Compensation Board
P.O. Box 2415
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 2S5
Telephone (collect) 780-427-1216



Contact any association, union, fraternal order, automobile club or any other organization to which the deceased may have belonged. They may provide a benefit of some sort, in any case you will want to know if any dues or bills are outstanding.

Contact each bank in which there is a husband and wife account and request release of all monies. This is necessary before funds may be withdrawn from the accounts. Banks may require the freezing of all funds in accounts in the name of the deceased until payment of taxes or succession duties have been arranged.



It is advisable to contact the relevant businesses and government departments at the earliest possibly date. The following letters are a guide on what to say to the various organizations.


Attention: (Bank manager's name)
Dear Sir/Madam:
This is to advise you that my (relationship and full name of the deceased person) passed away on (date).
Please release from our joint account(s) all money that is possible.

(Your full name and address).

Attention: (Manager's name)
This is to advise you that my (relationship and full name of the deceased person) passed away on (date). I understand our account with you, (deceased person's name), may have been paid by a life insurance term contract. Would you please inform me as to whether the account has been terminated, and if not, the current standing of the account.

(Full name and address)



This information sheet contains basic information that the family and legal representatives should know in order to start settling the affairs of the deceased person. For more detailed information, you should get the tax guide entitled Preparing Returns for Deceased persons from your local tax services office.


You should provide Revenue Canada with the deceased's date of death as soon as possible if any of the following situations apply:

  • the deceased was receiving the Goods and Services/Harmonized Sales Tax credit;
  • the deceased or the deceased's spouse received Canada Child Tax Benefit payments for a child; or
  • the deceased was a child for whom C.C.T.M. payments are paid.


If the deceased person was paying tax by installments, no further installment payments have to be paid after his or her date of death. The only installments required are those that were due before the date of death, but not paid.

G.S.T. / H.S.T. credit payments are issued in July, October, January and April. If the deceased was receiving G.S.T / H.S.T. credit payments, the government may still send out a payment after the date of death because they are not aware of the death. If this happens, please return the payment to them.


  • If a single person dies in a month before the government sent out the G.S.T. / H.S.T. credit payment, no one else can receive the payment.
  • If a single person dies during or after a month in which the government sent a payment, the persons estate is entitled to that payment.


If the deceased had a spouse, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive G.S.T. / H.S.T. credit payments. If the deceased's G.S.T. / H.S.T. credit included a claim for that spouse, the spouse should:

  • contact Revenue Canada and ask to receive the remaining G.S.T. / H.S.T. credit payment for the year;
  • file an income tax and benefit return for the applicable previous year if he or she had not already done so.


If the deceased person was receiving C.C.T.B. payments for a child, the child's new caregiver (parent, grandparent, guardian) should:

  • contact Revenue Canada and provide them with the date of death; and complete and submit Form RC66, Canada Child Tax Benefit Application, requesting C.C.T.B. payments for the child. You can get the form RC66 from your tax services office.

If the deceased person was receiving C.C.T.B. payments for a child, and the surviving spouse is also the child's parent, the surviving spouse should contact us and provide us with the date of death. The C.C.T.B. payments will be transferred to the surviving spouse. If the childâ€TMs new caregiver is someone other than a parent (eg. grandparent, guardian), that person will have to complete and submit Form RC66, Canada Child Tax Benefit Application, to request C.C.T.B. payments for the child.

If you are the surviving spouse and you receive C.C.T.B. payments for a child, you can request that we recalculate the payments excluding the deceased person's income. The spouse can request this form from Revenue Canada.

Entitlement to C.C.T.B. payment for a deceased child stops the month after the child's date of death. Please notify Revenue Canada so that they can update their records.

You can call or write your local tax services office if you need help or need any of Revenue Canada's publications. You can find the address and telephone numbers under "Revenue Canada" in the government of Canada section of your telephone book. If you have access to the Internet, you can find many of their publications at www.cra-arc.gc.ca (Revenue Canada's Phone Number: 1-800-267-6999)


  • filing all required returns for the deceased;
  • making sure all taxes owing are paid; and
  • letting the beneficiaries know which of the amounts they receive from the estate are taxable.

If you are the legal representative, you may need information from the deceased person's tax records now or at a later date. Before they can give you this information, Revenue Canada will need the following:
a copy of the deceased's death certificate
the deceased's social insurance number

  • a copy of the will or other documents that show you are the legal representative.
  • You should also provide your address so that Revenue Canada can reply directly to you. Send this information to your local tax services office or tax centre.


You have at least six months before the deceased's final income tax return is due to be filed. The final return and any balance owing are due on or before the following dates:

Period When Death Occurred Due Date For The Return
January 1st - October 31st  |  April 30th of the following year
November 1st - December 31st  |  Six months after the date of death

If the deceased or the deceased's spouse was carrying on a business during the year when the death occurred, special rules apply, unless the expenditures of the business are primarily in connection with a tax shelter. Get the guide called Preparing Returns for Deceased Persons for more information. If you file the final return late and there is a balance owing, Revenue Canada will charge a late-filing penalty. If you do not pay any balance owing from the final return in full by the due date, they will charge interest on the unpaid amount. The interest will start to accumulate from the day after the return is due to be filed to the date you pay the amount owing.


If a person died after December 31st, but before the filing due date for his or her return (usually April 30th), and that person had not yet filed a return for the previous year, the due date for that return is six months after the date of death.