What to do Next When a Loved One Dies in Hospital

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I have had this question from a few people who have attended my seminars… “If my loved one dies in the hospital – what do I do next?”  The answer is – Your first call is to the Funeral Home.

The Funeral Home will ask you some initial questions and fill out what is called a First Call Sheet. The information needed will be:

  • The name of your loved one
  • Where your loved one died
  • Who is calling and their relationship to the deceased
  • Contact information for the family representatives
  • Is there is a valid will
  • Who the Estate Trustee is and their contact information
  • Verbal consent to bring your loved one from the place of death to the funeral home
  • Verbal consent if appropriate to embalm the deceased
  • Has the funeral been prearranged or prepaid? – If the funeral is prearranged and prepaid you will be likely be placed on hold while the file is retrieved.
  • If there is any necessary information missing from the file, you may be asked to bring in this information.

Next, the funeral director will set an appointment time with the family to confirm the details of the prepaid funeral arrangements. At this time you will be asked to bring in clothing for the deceased if there will be visitation.

During the appointment the funeral director will walk you through what has been set up and confirm that this is the type of funeral you wish to have to celebrate the life of your loved one. If there is a funeral service the first call the funeral director will make is to the appropriate clergy. Once the funeral time is established then you work backwards to set the visitation times.

You will also be asked to sign several documents such as:

  • Statement of Death
  • Privacy Policy
  • Waiver of Identification
  • Funeral Services Contract
  • Cremation Application is applicable

Wow there is a lot to consider!

As it comes up to the one year anniversary of my father’s death, I am reflecting on the long list of items that needed to be considered. I am so enormously grateful that Dad prearranged and prepaid his funeral several years ahead of time. However, I must share with you that there are 2 things that I do not feel I had the time and energy to appropriately honour my Dad’s life.

First is the selection of pictures to be displayed during the visiting and funeral. I was exhausted by the time it came to this part and totally overwhelmed looking through the 50+ albums my parents have. I also would have liked a power point loop of many pictures, yet I did not have the time or expertise to get this done.

Second, my Dad loved music and had been involved in various bands for 60 years. When he was still able to talk, I asked him about the music selections he wanted. I knew he liked the Big Band era so the genre of music was not the issue. He mentioned a particular song he wanted and I wrote down the title of the song. Dad mentioned that he had spoken with the organist at their church and the organist knew the song Dad wanted. As it turned out the organist had no recollection of this conversation with Dad nor did he know the song that Dad was referring to. As a result this song was not part of Dad’s Memorial Service.

Do I regret this? Yes.
Did I do the best I could with the time I had? Yes.
I am sharing this with you as a very small example of what can stay in your mind after the fact. I can’t imagine how people put together a funeral from scratch. It must be very exhausting, overwhelming, and enormously stressing.

If you would rather leave a solution for your family, then now is the time to consider preplanning and prepaying your eventual funeral arrangements. It is totally in your control to set up and outline the type of funeral service you would like to honor your life. If you would like a free list of 75+ items to consider ahead of time please connect with me and I shall send it to you.

Your family will thank you from the bottom of their hearts.

As always if you have questions or would like to know more, you can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Until next time


Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, radio host, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

What is a Coroner’s Certificate? 4 Situations Where it’s Required

coroner certificate Ontario

Many clients have asked me what a Coroner’s Certificate is and why they need it. Here are 4 situations where it is required.

1. Cremation application

Under the authority of the Coroners Act R.S.O. 1990 C.C. 37 a Coroner will investigate the death of all people who wish to be cremated. The Coroner’s signature is required on all Cremation applications. This is necessary as the Coroner has the highest authority in the province and must sign a cremation application to authorize the cremation of the deceased. The Coroner is literally signing off that the deceased did not die of a suspicious or unusual circumstance that would require further investigation. Continue reading

How Much Does Burial Cost? 3 Items to Consider

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“I have been considering funeral options and have been wondering how much a burial will cost?” is a question I hear a lot. I think when people ask this question, they already have a number in their mind. And while they don’t usually share this number with me when we begin to discuss the type of funeral they want, they are often surprised and pleased that the total value is less than the figure they had in mind. Here are 3 costs to take into consideration in a full burial service. Continue reading

Cremation – What is the cost of a Funeral Anyway?

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What is the cost of a funeral anyway? is a question I am often asked. The answer is that it depends on the type of funeral or celebration of life you wish to setup and prepay. For example, there is a growing trend to select cremation as the choice of disposition, so I will discuss this option in this blog post. The cost of cremation depends on the crematorium that the funeral home uses and can range from approximately $450.00 to $650.00 or more. Additionally with cremation there are 2 mandatory disbursements: Continue reading

D E A D is a Four Letter Word

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Does just reading the word’ dead’ make you cringle? You are not alone. Many people know on an intellectual level that preplanning a funeral makes a lot of sense. Yet, taking action is often difficult. Dead is a four letter word. Consider this as an acronym for Dead:

D Dare

E Educate

A Action

D Done Continue reading

Who has Legal Authority to Deal with your Cremated Remains?

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Many people know that they wish to be cremated, however when I ask them what they would like their family to do with their cremated remains, I am often met with a blank look. People will say “well, I don’t care I will be dead.” While this is true, I don’t think these people realize the potential they are creating for family feuding. Yes families do argue, disagree, fight and litigate over who has the right to and what to do with mom or dad’s cremated remains. So who has the legal authority to deal with your cremated remains? Continue reading

Living Organ Donation – Let’s Talk

organ and tissue donation OntarioMany people are familiar with deceased organ and tissues donation, however it is possible to also consider healthy living organ donation. Living organ donation could include a kidney, part of the liver, lung, small bowel, or pancreas. The focus of this blog is live kidney donation.

Unfortunately the need for transplanted organs – live or deceased is far greater than the supply. Many people on the kidney wait-list will die before they receive a compatible kidney. Continue reading

Estate Planning – Where Do I Put My Money?

funeral preplanning expert MississaugaBen Franklin said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This statement was made centuries ago and still rings true today. When you think about your estate, do you struggle with where to put your money? Are you getting a tax refund this year? Have you maxed out your RSP and TFSA? Yes? If this is your fortunate financial situation, well done and good for you! What’s next? Continue reading

Funeral Memorial Service – The Cost of Procrastination

funeral preplanner MississaugaHave you ever wondered how much procrastination could cost you? Eight years ago a gentlemen stopped into the funeral home inquiring about the cost of a Memorial Service. During our conversation I outlined what was included in the service and the cost of this type of funeral.

At the conclusion of our discussions he gathered up the quotation sheet and the pre-need information package and said “This sounds really good, I am going to go home and talk to my wife about this, and we will get back to you in a week or so.” I thanked him for his time and mentioned that I would follow up with him next week. When I followed up they were busy with other things and promised they would get back to me.

They did 8 years later.

Continue reading

Can Prepaid Funeral Payments be Deducted on Tax Returns?

licensed Pre funeral planner MississaugaOne of the questions that I am asked is whether or not prepaid funeral payments can be deducted on Personal Tax Returns. The answer unfortunately is no and here’s why.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has designated that funds held in a prepaid funeral account called an Eligible Funeral Arrangement (EFA) must be guaranteed to $100,000.00 and earns tax exempt interest. The funds held in the EFA continue to earn tax exempt interest throughout the life of the funeral beneficiary.

When the funeral beneficiary dies, the funds are released to the selected funeral home. These funds are used to pay for the desired type of funeral service. If there are residual funds in the EFA, a T5 may be issued to the estate of the deceased. Continue reading