ABCs of Funeral Planning

In our society most people avoid talking about death and making funeral arrangements. But with a little research now you can educate yourself, spend your money wisely and save a lot of grief later on. (Sort of like having the names and numbers of trustworthy locksmiths and tow companies in your wallet, rather than having to scramble after an accident.)

With this in mind, I compiled a list of ABCs for the hopefully far-distant day when you will have to plan a funeral.

Bring: A trusted friend with you, someone able to keep a clear head. This person’s logic should not be affected by their grief, as yours might be.

Burial: Read your cemetery plot contract to see if it merely gives you the right to have your loved one buried in the cemetery or if you are buying the actual deed to that land.

Caskets: Are not always on display on the sales floor. Make sure you have a look at all the options that are available before making your final decision. Some Provinces require the least expensive casket to be displayed in the funeral home. If you don’t see a casket you like or can afford ask your funeral director to see others, possibly in a catalogue.

Contracts: Be sure to review the funeral home’s purchase agreement or contract before signing it. If you don’t understand something on the contract then ask questions… don’t sign it until you get a response that satisfies you.

Internet (the): Can be used for research as well as learning about the funeral home. Most funeral homes now have web sites where you can view their price list and obtain a description of the services they offer from the privacy and comfort of your home. It’s a great place to start educating yourself.

Insurance Assignment: If you choose not to assign the assurance policy to the funeral home you will be responsible for paying taxes on the interest the policy makes until it is used. The choice is always yours to make.

Monuments: Shop around. While remains must be disposed of fairly quickly, a monument can wait. This is a step that can be taken care of after some time has passed, but should be considered while making arrangements for the funeral. Purchase something that gives you the most peace of mind.

Obituary: If you’re pre-planning for yourself, write your own obituary, and leave it with your other important papers. This will ensure that the obituary has the information in it that you would like. Most funeral homes have websites and offer the free publication of your loved one’s obituary on their site. These webs sites are connected with search engines and newspapers across North America. This free service could save you a lot of money. It’s ok to ask your funeral provider if they charge a fee to prepare and submit the obituary to the newspaper.

Package Deals: For some people, packages containing services and merchandise can be the preferred way to make funeral choices. If presented with such a package and it does not suit your needs your funeral director will be happy to provide an itemized purchase agreement or contract listing only those items that you select.

Pictures: Can be taken of everything you buy. Compare them against what you actually get. If a funeral home must substitute, by law they have to give you an item of equal or greater value to the one you paid for.

Pre-paid Plans: Every Province has different rules about how well your money is protected in a prepaid funeral plan. In most Provinces, these funds are protected by a compensation fund and are extremely well protected. You should find out from the funeral home if this is the case in your Province.

Printed Price List: In some Provinces a funeral home must give you a printed price list. Don’t start discussing arrangements until you hold one in your hands.

Realistic Pricing: You have every right to contact more than one funeral home when you are investigating a funeral and you have every right to ask for exactly what the costs are for the services you are requesting. Use the response you receive on the phone as a guide to selecting a provider that is right for you. Remember to make sure you compare like for like services. Ask important questions for example; Is this quote all inclusive? What are additional add-on fee’s not included in this quote?

Regulations: Most Provinces in Canada are governed by a Regulator who is there to be sure that Funeral Homes follow their Provincial regulations. These regulatory bodies are in charge of inspecting funeral homes and most Provinces have a policy to deal with complaints as well.

Veterans: Some veterans are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a courtesy grave marker. To find out more, contact Last Post or Veteran’s Affairs Canada.

This tip provided courtesy of the Funeral Service Association of Canada

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