What practical information should I know?
Caregiving benefits; government benefits after death; important documents and questions checklist; local information; glossary of terms.
Download: What practical information should I know? (PDF, 8 pages)
You may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefits if you are absent from work to provide care or support to a gravely ill family member at risk of dying within a number of weeks. If you are self-employed, you may apply for special EI benefits if you are registered for access to the EI program.
The Government of Canada has announced a new EI program, the Family Caregiver benefit for adults. Starting December 3, 2017, eligible caregivers may take up to 15 weeks off work to care for or support an adult family member who is critically ill or injured. For more information, visit the Government web page on the Family Caregiver benefit.
For more information about caregiving benefits, you may contact the EI Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218 or visit the Employment Insurance pages on Canada.ca.
Government benefits after death
When your parent, spouse or common-law partner dies, you may be eligible for certain government benefits:
- Allowance for the survivor provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to widowed spouses with a low income who are not yet eligible for the Old Age Security pension.
- Death benefit provides a one-time payment to (or on behalf of) the estate of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor.
- Survivor’s pension offers a monthly pension paid to the spouse or common-law partner of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor.
- Children’s benefit provides a monthly benefit for dependent children (under age 18, or between 18 and 25 and attending school) of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor.
- The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada – Decedent Estates manages the estate of a deceased First Nation individual who lived on a reserve before their death.
- International benefits provide survivor benefits to eligible individuals who have lived or worked in another country.
For more information about government benefits after a death please visit the death benefits page at Canada.ca.
Important documents and questions checklist
Handling the administrative tasks after a death can feel overwhelming. The following checklist and list of questions is meant to help.
Print this page and use it as a checklist to make sure that you have all of the documents that you need:
|Death certificates (10-15 certified copies); can be supplied by the funeral home|
|Social insurance card or number, driver’s license, medical coverage card|
|Marriage certificate, if relevant|
|Birth certificate of the person, if available|
|Insurance policies (e.g., life, health, car, home, as applicable)|
|Deed and titles to property|
|Most recent copy of their Will, if available|
|Stock certificates, investment information (e.g., RRSP, RRIF, GIC’s etc.)|
|Banking information, name, branch, account numbers and any credit cards|
|Honourable discharge papers for a veteran and/or Veterans Affairs claim number|
|Recent income tax returns or assessments|
|Loan documents or contracts (e.g., mortgages, car loans)|
|List of contacts of family and friends|
|List of health, home and community services used (e.g., a place of worship, dentist, family doctor and/or healthcare specialists, professional advisors such as an accountant or lawyer, meals-on-wheels, home care services, utility companies, telecommunication services, locating device services and social services, such as the local Alzheimer Society)|
Some families may struggle with accessing the financial information of the person living with dementia when the person is close to end of life or has passed away. If possible, try to ensure that the designated financial decision-maker, the Power of Attorney, has access to all banking accounts and passwords as their dementia progresses.
Also consider the following important questions:
- Were the funeral arrangements already made? If so, where is the documentation? If not, contact your local funeral home to discuss the next steps.
- Did the person express any specific wishes about their funeral? If not, think about how the person would want their death marked and their life celebrated.
- Do I need a burial permit in my province? Is there a specific process for this? Consult the Canadian Consumer Handbook to find funeral service regulators for your province.
- Did the person have a will? Where is this document? If the person does not have a will or substitute decision-maker, you may need to speak to a lawyer or consult the Public Guardian and Trustee about next steps.
- Has the person been receiving government pension and benefits? Be sure to notify the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) of the death by phone at 1-800-959-8281 or online.
- Do I quality for government benefits? For more information about government benefits after a death, please see our sections on Compassionate care benefits and Government benefits after death.
- Do I need to file a tax return for someone who has died? Consult the Canada Revenue Agency page: What to do when someone has died.
- Is there anyone else I need to notify about the death outside of friends and family? Was the person a member of a social club, faith group, or organization such as the Alzheimer Society? Were they receiving community services such as Meals on Wheels? If so, contact these organizations.
- What should I do with the person’s belongings and other items not covered in the will? Consider giving them away to close friends and family who will appreciate the items, or donate them to local charities.
For information on end-of-life care specific to your province or territory, visit your provincial Alzheimer Society's website:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
*For Nunavut & Yukon, please contact the provincial Alzheimer Society closest to you.
Advance care planning: Process of planning for a person’s future health care where the person has conversations with close family and friends about their values and beliefs.
Advance health directive: Set of documents containing instructions that consent to, or refuse, specified medical treatments and that states the care and lifestyle preferences in anticipating possible future circumstances.
Ambiguous loss: Type of loss you feel when a person living with dementia or another condition is physically here, but may not be mentally or emotionally present in the same way as before.
Antibiotics: Medication used to treat bacterial infections.
Artificial / Intravenous hydration: Liquid administered to a person through a needle in a vein in the person’s hand or another part of the body.
Bereavement services: Services provided to anyone who has experienced a loss including the process of healing from the loss.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): Treatment used in emergencies to restore function when a person’s heart and/or breathing stop working (heart attack).
Caregiver: Refers to anyone involved in caring for or providing support to someone, for example, a person living with dementia.
Co-morbidity: When two or more chronic conditions exist at the same time.
Do not resuscitate (DNR) / Do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR): Legal order to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in respect of the person’s wishes.
Emergency hospitalization: When a person is admitted to a hospital without warning.
Employment insurance caregiving benefits: Financial assistance given to people who have to be away from work to care for or support a critically ill or injured person or someone needing end-of-life care.
End of life: Stage of life where a person is near the end of their life; in the advanced stage of a terminal illness.
Family: Includes anyone in the supportive network of the person with dementia.
Feeding tube: Medical device used to provide nutrition to a person who has a difficult time eating or swallowing.
Funeral director: A person who helps plan and arrange a funeral, and who helps coordinate or execute embalming, burial or cremation of the dead.
Geriatrician: A physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in older people and the problems specific to aging.
Health-care team: A team of medical professionals that often includes a physician, nurse, pharmacist, clinical nutritionist, social worker and other support staff.
Hospice: A comprehensive service provided to people living with and dying from a fatal condition. This may include medical care, respite care and end-of-life care for people who are unable to die at home.
Living will: Legal document detailing a person’s wishes regarding their medical treatment in the event that they become incapable of making decisions on their own.
Medical intervention: Treatment undertaken to improve health or help with a particular problem.
Opioids: Medications that relieve pain.
Palliative approach: An approach to care that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with a fatal condition and their families. It can reduce their suffering through early identification, assessment and treatment of pain, physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs.
Palliative / Comfort care: Type of health care for patients and families facing life-threatening illness. Palliative care helps patients to achieve the best possible quality of life right up until the end of life. Palliative care is also called end-of-life, or comfort, care.
Person-centred care: A philosophy that recognizes that individuals have unique values, personal history and personality and that each person has an equal right to dignity, respect, and full participation in their environment.
Substitute decision-maker: A person who makes medical decisions and provides consent for treatment or withdrawal of treatment on behalf of another person who is incapable of communicating their wishes on their own.
Transfers to the hospital: Moving a person from the home or long-term care home to the hospital by ambulance.
Ventilator: A machine used to assist with breathing if a person cannot breathe independently.