Coping with the loss of a partner may be one of the most difficult things many of us will ever face, but it can be even more challenging if their financial affairs aren't in order. Here are the top 10 priorities following the passing of a spouse.


  1. Accept Help from those you trust. The first people you need to reach out to inform are your family.  If you do not have anyone in close proximity then reach out to friends.  They can take a huge weight off your shoulders by helping to get the word out about your loss. This is not something I would suggest you take on by yourself.
  2. Contact the executor of the will or estate.  In the event of a death, if the deceased left a will and there is an appointed executor of the will or estate (by either the deceased or a court) contact them immediately to carry out the instructions contained in the document.
  3. Tell your employer and benefits manager. The employer of your loved one (or business associates) should be notified immediately in the event of a death.  There may be ongoing benefits that you or the deceased's estate may be entitled to receive.
  4. Contact your life insurance/financial advisor. They can contact the appropriate companies immediately to get paperwork started so you can receive insurance proceeds that may be payable to you or the estate.  To determine if your loved one held any other insurance policies that you might not be aware of you can contact the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association and request a policy search under the name of the deceased. <>
  5. Contact CRA. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must be notified immediately and for anyone residing in Quebec, Revenu Quebec  must be notified.
  6. Don't forget CPP and QPP. If the deceased was receiving CPP or QPP benefits then their offices must be notified so they can discontinue paying benefits and begin paying survivor benefits (which must be applied for), if applicable.
  7. Banks, investment and credit card companies.  All of these institutions will need to be contacted and notified of the death for the assessment of all monies and investments, along with any debts that need to be settled.  
  8. Provincial Ministry of Transport.  To transfer ownership of a vehicle, contact your auto insurance company to arrange for a new insurance policy, or to cancel the current policy as applicable.
  9. Do Contact your Lawyer. They are worth every penny when there may be any kind of dispute
  10. Do it one time. Ask your funeral director for a minimum of fifteen copies of the death certificate; I had to go back for more.