Other Important Considerations
The Province of Nova Scotia has published a booklet After the loss of a loved one that may help you organize the many other tasks that will need attention in the days and weeks after your loved one’s death. It covers many topics including what documents you will need, canceling benefits and identification cards, and handling motor vehicle transfers and permits.
Some of these tasks may fall to you if you are an Executor of the deceased’s will. If not, you must check with the person in that role before doing anything that may interfere with or further complicate the disbursement of the estate. The duties of an Executor are outlined in the Getting Prepared: 4. Wills
You may be asked to care for pets, finding them a temporary or a permanent home. In the eyes of the law, pets are property, and if they are bequeathed to someone there may be a small trust included to offset the cost of keeping the pet.
A safety issue that warrants priority action is the disposal of medication, especially if it is known that your person was using medication to control pain. Regardless of where you live in Nova Scotia, it is not acceptable to dispose of medication in the toilet, in the garbage, or in composting waste streams. The only safe means of medication disposal is to return it to a pharmacy.
There may also be some urgency in returning home health equipment, as those items may be in demand by others. Sometimes the lending agency asks for a donation to cover costs for cleaning or to support the ongoing loan of items.
If home health equipment is not on loan but has been purchased, you might consider donating it to the Canadian Red Cross for their Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP), to your local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion if they have an equipment loan program, or to the Easter Seals organization which will find a new home for health and mobility devices. This must be cleared by the estate Executor first.
Again with the written approval of the Executor, you may also offer items such as the above for sale via Kijiji, Facebook, or any other online marketplace. Sometimes the sale of these items can help offset funeral costs or contribute to household income when needed most.
Disposing of clothing and personal belongings is a very difficult task. You may choose to make memorial pillows out of buttoned shirts or t-shirts. Or clothing can be distributed amongst loved ones or given away to charitable organizations. More expensive items can be taken by the Executor to a consignment store or sold at a yard sale or online.
You may want to contact your local municipality to ask about disposal of textiles. Some municipalities ask for textiles to be placed in a blue bag with paper waste.
Hearing aids too can be donated back for recycling, benefitting someone who does not have the financial means of purchasing one new. Please contact a local hearing center to ask about drop-off points in your area.
When ordering a headstone, you may want to consult the Yellow Pages or do an online search to find a local supplier for headstones, monuments, memorials, or tombstones. You may wish to consult with a few vendors to compare prices and features.
All these tasks can take an emotional toll on you as they also confirm that your person has died. As Willie Nelson sings, “This is not something you get over, but it’s something you get through.”