A bill that would make it easier for executors to notify the federal government of a death, and save an estate money, is closer to becoming law.

Bill C-247, the Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act, would reduce the cost of administering an estate by cutting down on red tape, says its sponsor, Liberal MP Frank Valeriote.

The bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons Oct. 8 with support from every political party.

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If it becomes law, executors would only have to notify Service Canada of someone’s death, instead of contacting government departments separately, including CRA, Veterans Affairs, Passport Canada and Public Works. It would take the guesswork out of an executor’s duties, Valeriote says, because it’s often difficult to know which departments need to be notified, and what paperwork they require.

“Under the current system, following a death, a bereaved Canadian may have to contact a multitude of federal government departments and send numerous death notifications, because there is no single point of contact,” he said in the House of Commons.

“As well, each federal government department can have different documentation requirements to establish proof of death,” Valeriote, a former estate lawyer, noted.

For instance, an executor of an estate that has guns would also have to contact the RCMP. And an executor of a fisherman’s estate would likely have to call the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

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Valeriote’s bill proposes a new system. After an executor contacts Service Canada, it would notify all other relevant departments. Then those departments would tell the executor how to cancel benefits, return identification documents and apply for survivor benefits.

“We are really encouraged that all parties are working together to facilitate the implementation of this common sense piece of legislation,” said Jim Bishop, spokesperson for the Funeral Service Association of Canada, which also supports the bill.

Hospitals, hospices and other lawyers are also on board, Valeriote notes. Further, the U.K. and France already have similar systems in place.

It will now be studied by a Parliamentary committee. Should the bill become law, the government would have one year to implement it.

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