Is Cremation Right for You? – 12 Questions to Consider

cremation2Increasingly more people are preplanning and selecting cremation as their preferred eventual form of disposition. The rationale that people share with me is that they feel it is easier for the family and that it will be less expensive. Very likely this is the case, yet I would ask you to consider the following 12 questions to be sure this is right for you and that it is the most suitable option that reflects your values, wishes, and the needs of your family.

1. Do you want your family and friends to see you one last time before cremation?
2. Would you want visiting before cremation?
3. Would you want a service before cremation?
4. Would this service be secular or non-secular?
5. Where would the service be held?
6. Do you want visiting after cremation?
7. Do you want a service after cremation?
8. Do you want a celebration or memorial service to honour your life?
9. Who are we to take direction from regarding your wishes?
10.What would you like to be done with your cremated remains?
11.Would you want a newspaper notice?
12.Would you want a reception, and if so, what does that look like?

Very often people decide that cremation is what they want, however, there are many other decisions to make along with this to be sure that your family has this one-time-only opportunity to celebrate and honour your life.

Need more information?  I would love the opportunity to chat with you. You can reach me by phone or email, submit 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.

Until next time,


Death Away from Home – Secure Return Travel Assurance Plan (SRAP)

cheap travel insuranceA while back a gentleman called me and said: “I want that travel thing you have.” I thanked him for calling, and I was thrilled that he knew about “that travel thing.” I suggested that I meet with him to explain the benefits of the Secure Return Travel Assurance Plan (SRAP). He said: “No I live in Toronto and gas is too expensive to have you drive here and explain it to me, can we do this over the phone?” I said: “Absolutely!” Little did he know how important that phone call would be.

We proceeded to cover the features of this very affordable lifetime plan:

1. Return of mortal remains if a person died more than 100 kilometers or 60 miles from their legal residence.
2. Lifetime membership regardless of age or medical conditions.
3. Preparation requirements of the mortal remains.
4. Consulate paper work, fees, legal proof of death certificate.
5. Legal translations of documents, interpreter referrals, emergency message transmission to family members.

Over the phone we filled out the personal information needed and he asked me to put a note with the application and indicate where he was to sign and the other steps for him to complete the application. At the end of our telephone conversation, the gentleman said: “I am going on a trip and when I get back I want to talk to you about prepaying my funeral arrangements.”

I thanked him for calling and sent the package to him with a stamped return envelope and a couple of days later the application was returned and submitted to the company.

About 12 days later we had a call at the Funeral Home that this man had died in Bora Bora, an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Over the course of the next few days, we learned that the gentleman had died in a town that did not have a refrigerated mortuary. His remains were flown to another town that did have a refrigerated mortuary and held there until they could locate his next of kin to fill out the documentation needed to start the process of sending his body home. The legal documents were in Spanish and had to be translated into English for his Executor to start closing his Estate in Ontario. This was covered with the SRAP.

The shipping requirements to send a body across international borders are regulated by the sending and receiving Country Consulates and inspected by the Public Health Departments. The preparation of the body and accompanying documents, official seals or stamps and other forms of verification are needed in this process. This was covered by the SRAP. Then the mortal remains were casketed and placed into a shipping container. This was driven to the airport with the supporting documentation, the container was weighed, and the cost to fly the body home was determined. This was covered by the SRAP. A call was placed to the Ontario Funeral Home to let them know when to pick up the mortal remains at Toronto International Airport. The Funeral Home then went to the airport and picked up the shipping container, all the documentation and drove the gentleman’s body back to the funeral home. All this was organized and paid for with the Secure Return Assurance Plan.

What a relief it was for the family; one phone call from the local funeral home telling them they were picking up their father at the airport and there were no financial obligations because their father had the foresight to purchase the SRAP.

Without this type of coverage the family would have been very stressed emotionally and financially to make the necessary arrangements to bring a body across an International border and pay the approximately $12,000.00 it would have cost them to bring their father home.  Not all families are as fortunate. Please click here to read another family’s story.

I do not believe he thought he would die on this trip as he had said to me that he wanted to complete his funeral preplanning when he returned home. This is a sad story, and it could have been a lot sadder had this gentleman not had the foresight and courage to purchase the SRAP and take care of this potentiality costly and stressful situation for his family.

What would you do if a loved one died away from home? Unfortunately this is a scenario that families do not consider and unfortunately it does happen. The family is left in chaos and confusion as to where to start, and what has to be done to repatriate a body.  Isn’t it a blessing that there is a solution! With the SRAP there is total peace of mind for all your lifetime travel.

As a professional educator, speaker, insurance and living benefits advisor and a funeral director specializing in prepaid funeral planning, I work with families on a daily basis on end of life planning. I would love the opportunity to speak with you. You can reach me by phone or email, 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.

Until next time,


Act Now – 10 Things to Save your Estate $1000s of Dollars!

licensed pre funeral planner MississaugaAn adult son called me today asking about what he could do and how to start organizing his mother’s affairs. His mom now has advanced Alzheimer’s and before her cognitive decline she drafted a valid Power of Attorney for Property and Personal Care and a valid Will. Here are my suggestions for 10 ways to save your estate $1000s of dollars if you act now. Continue reading

Dying Away From Home

dying away from homeOver the weekend a friend contacted me to let me know that his wife’s memorial visiting and service was this week. I was in shock. I hadn’t seen them in a year or so and I couldn’t believe it when he told me she died while on holiday in Italy. On top of the shock, he relayed part of the logistical, financial and nightmare dealing with the authorities in Italy.  Here is his story.  How would you deal with your loved one dying away from home? Continue reading

2 Ways to Reduce Costs of Paying for a Funeral

funeral costs copyHave you ever wondered how you would pay for a funeral? I am sure you have heard that funerals are expensive – right?  Not necessarily! People are conscious of not spending a lot on a funeral and getting excellent value for what they do select. Here are 2 ways to help reduce the cost. Continue reading

Going Down Green – 5 Criteria for an Eco-Friendly Burial

eco friendly burialEco-friendly, natural or Green earth burial is gaining momentum. According to a 2013 study done by the Natural Burial Association of Canada, 50% of respondents viewed natural burial favorably, after they were aware of this option. On March 7, 2013 the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC) was incorporated as a society. At the AGM, this not-for-profit organization developed 5 criteria for green or natural burial designation:

1. No embalming
2. Simple covering of the deceased such as a shroud or simple box
3. No concrete liner or vault
4. Simple memorialization
5. Some aspect of habitat enhancement Continue reading

Kat Downey, Canadian Certified Executor Advisor (CEA)

CEA OntarioI am thrilled to introduce you to the CICEA and let you know that I successfully completed the 30 hour on-line course offered by the Canadian Institute of Certified Estate Advisors and successfully completed the Certified Executor Advisor Examination.

As the first licensed Funeral Director in Ontario with the CEA designation, I can be a great resource to my clients and community.

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Leaving a Good Voice Mail Message

seniors and voice mailOver the past few weeks, my elderly parents have been moving; discontinuing phone and cable, confirming moving details, etc. This resulted in a number of telephone messages. A couple of things became very apparent to me that I thought I would share with respect to how people can leave a good voice mail message.

Few people actually answer their phone anymore. Yes there is email, however my parents are not used to doing business this way. Their preference is to use the telephone so we need to consider this in our communication.

When people left messages for my parents they spoke too quickly and rattled their number off too fast. My mom found this very frustrating. Complicating matters is that she wears two hearing aids. Very often mom had to listen to messages 4 and even 5 times before she could understand who was calling, the subject of the call and get their return number.

In the end I often had to listen to the messages and write them down for her. For a few of the messages I also had to listen a few times to get the name, number written down correctly and what the message was.

I have a couple of suggestions. They may seem totally obvious yet many people do not leave a good voice mail message.

1. Say your name slowly and where you are calling from
2. State the reason for your call
3. Say your call back number extremely slowly. For example state the area code and then silently count to 5. Then leave the first three digits of your number and again silently count to five. For the remaining 4 digits say the first two and silently count to 5 and then state the final two. The length of the pause should be long enough that you feel uncomfortable about the length of the pause.

Finish your message and state your name, the nature of your business and your call back number, again extremely slowly.

Regardless of our age and preferred mode of communication, it is still imperative and professional courtesy to leave a good voice mail message.

I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via phone or email, leave a comment here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


The Importance of Naming a Beneficiary

Benefits of a beneficiaryWhy is it important to name a beneficiary on our life insurance policy?

A beneficiary is the person, charity or other organization that you name to receive your money or property from your life insurance policy, investment accounts or trust funds. For example: Mr. Anderson has a $30,000 life insurance policy and named his wife as the first beneficiary and his two children as the second beneficiaries. If Mr. Anderson dies before his wife does, then she will receive tax free, the $30,000 death benefit of his policy.

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Do you Have Your Advance Care Plan in Place?

Advanced Care PlanDo you Have Your Advance Care Plan in Place? An Advance Care Plan is a process of conversations and decisions while you are of capacity. Reflecting your values, beliefs, goals, wishes, resources and faith, an Advance Care Plan outlines your wishes concerning future care.

Future Care takes into consideration your wishes concerning personal hygiene, nutrition, shelter clothing, safety, as well as health care, medical treatments, services or interventions. In the event of a sudden and unexpected incapacity such as car accident; or a longer progressive incapacity such as Alzheimer’s disease, your Advance Care Plan outlines your wishes for future health and personal care preferences in the event you are incapable of consenting to or refusing medical treatment or other care. Continue reading