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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Executors must step in quickly after a death

When a death occurs without warning, the family members are in a state of shock. But decisions still must be made, and often it falls to the executor of the person's estate to make them on very short notice.

Since there may already be pre-planned funeral arrangements that the decedent prepaid during his or her lifetime, it's important to determine whether this is so. This may be detailed in a will, but can also be ascertained by making a few telephone calls.

If no arrangements have been made, it's up to the executor and surviving family members to handle this. The executor should be prepared to give the funeral home the personal information they need about the deceased. That can include:

-- The decedent's name and address

-- His or her birth date and place of birth

-- The date and location of the death

-- The marital status of the deceased, and if applicable, the spouse's maiden name

-- Decedent's parents' names, including the mother's maiden name and their birth places

-- Decedent's occupation and number of years worked

-- Decedent's Social Insurance Number

-- The personal health number on the decedent's BC Care Card

-- Information about veterans affairs or military service

-- Executor's name

The funeral home will need the Medical Certificate of Death to complete a Death Registration form, which they send.

Executors must request a number of "original" Death Certificates in order to notify financial institutions that the person is now deceased. Some institutions accept notarized copies of death certificates; others insist on originals. Notary publics and lawyers can certify true copies if you need more than you originally thought.

If you are the executor, you are tasked with notifying all pertinent contacts of the death. Executors typically are responsible for making funeral plans when none are pre-arranged. However, most defer to the wishes of the surviving family members when requested to do so.

Source: People's Law School, "A Death in Your Family," accessed Oct. 14, 2016

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