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Can I Transfer my Prepaid Funeral Plan?

Last week when I was speaking the question of whether you can transfer your prepaid funeral plans came up from two different groups.  The answer is yes, you absolutely can transfer your prepaid funeral plan from one funeral home to another.

In a previous blog I wrote about Eligible Funeral Arrangements (EFA).  The rules of an EFA mandate that the money set aside in a prepaid funeral plan is always the purchaser’s money.  As such the assigned funeral home does not have access to these funds until the funeral is actually provided.  The purchaser’s money is held by a third party that must insure these funds to $100,000.00.  Further, these funds must earn tax exempt interest, which is paid into the prepaid funeral certificate.  As your money is held in an escrow account, it is very easy to transfer the funds.

Assignment of Benefits Form must be completed

To transfer the prepaid funeral funds there is an Assignment of Benefits form that has to be filled out and signed by the purchaser.  With this one form the funds are reassigned to the new funeral home. The process generally takes about 4 weeks.

Is there a fee to do this?

The Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act sates that an administration fee may be charged to do this.  The fee is 10% of the value of the prepaid funeral plan to a maximum of $350.00.  Since 1998, for the people that I have assisted to transfer their prepaid funeral plan I have never charged this fee.

Why do people transfer their prepaid funeral plan?

As we live in an increasingly mobile society, people transfer their prepaid funeral plans for many reasons.  More often it is because one spouse has died and the surviving spouse is downsizing, moving closer to family, or relocating to a retirement community.

Whatever the reasons are to transfer the prepaid funeral funds, people are relieved to know that this money is always their money and the choice of funeral home is entirely within their discretion.

If you would like to know more about the process and the many different options for choosing the right plan for you, I invite you to connect with me.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

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Neurological Determination of Death for Organ Donation

I want to be an organ donor, but how are they sure I am really brain dead?  While it might seem a strange question, it is a more common one than you would think.  Especially in regards to wishing to be an organ donor.  The answer to which is what is called a neurological determination of death, which I will go more into detail below.

Firstly, make sure you’ve identified yourself as an organ donor

It is the ultimate altruistic act to consent to organ donation.  In order for organ donation to be viable the donor must have identified themselves as an organ donor and informed their Power for Personal Care of their wishes. Ideally the potential donor has also signed an organ consent card.  A potential donor may also register with the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry for Ontario through the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

What types of death enable potential organ donation?

The usual scenario to be a potential organ donor is a sudden catastrophic brain injury resulting from perhaps a vehicle accident or a sudden blow to the head.

While some people would like viable organs to be donated to a recipient, there is still some hesitation with knowing that they are biologically dead and therefore there would be no chance of meaningful recovery.

How are they sure?

To be sure there is no possibility of meaningful brain recovery, blood enzymes are tested and repeated again within 24 hours.

While this testing is being done, the donor is keep alive on life support systems, mandating that organ donation be done in a medical setting.

In 2003, the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation (CCDT), held a forum on Severe Brain Injury to Neurological Determination of Death and CMAJ 2006, March 14,174(6), S1-12. One of the outcomes from this forum was the development of the clinical practice and guidelines for neurological determination of death.  In June 2007, the CCDT developed and released a medical educational video on the neurological determination of death.

After the viable organs have been retrieved, the deceased is released into the care of their loved ones.

Does organ donation affect the celebration of life afterwards?

Often I am asked will organ donation affect the type of funeral or celebration of life I can have?  The answer is no.  If an open casket was desired, that is still possible.  The only impact will be a delay of the release of the deceased from the hospital into the care of the funeral home.

Life is short and the direction our life takes can literally change in a moment.  Hence the importance of having your wishes documented and prepaid.  Also be sure that your Estate Trustee knows where your important papers are such as your will and prepaid funeral certificate.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

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Tombstone to Monument: Part 4, Digital Marker/QR Codes

According to Collins English Dictionary, the term tombstone originally referred to the flat stone on top of a grave or the lid of a stone coffin. The term dates back to 1711 and can also be another term for a gravestone or headstone. In present day, tombstones are now referred to as “markers”.

In this 4 part blog series I will talk about the four different types of markers: upright, flat, pillow and digital. This blog will focus on the digital marker.

According to Wikipedia, a QR code is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached.

QR Codes Share Your Life in a Single Graphic

While we’ve yet to see any QR codes on tombstones, they are currently being used to check in at the funeral (much like Foursquare) and to also notify the family who was in attendance.  This is a new digital way to replace the physical guestbook.  I can see this being especially useful for larger funerals, where there may be hundreds of guests in attendance.

Many people do not fully comprehend or know what QR Codes are, but once they’re told about how the QR codes, or Remembrance Codes as they’re called in the funeral industry work, they are amazed.

Who else thinks that in the future, names and dates will be eclipsed by QR codes that share a story about a loved-one’s life?

Even more interesting is the placement of QR codes on monuments or markers.    With the technology available now a QR chip can be attached to a memorial marker.  This provides a detailed memorial of the deceased.  This can be accessed with a smart phone and quite literally the marker becomes a living interactive memorial.

I have not personally seen this yet, but I highly believe it will become more useful in the near future especially, as I mentioned, for large or high-profile funerals..

If you would like to know more about the process and the many different options for choosing the right memorial marker for you, I invite you to connect with me.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

Ps.   Tombstone is also the name of a city southeast of Tucson, Arizona named by prospector Ed Schieffelin who found silver there in 1877 after being told all he would find was his tombstone.  Tombstone became one of the richest and most lawless frontier mining towns.

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Tombstone to Monument: Part 3, Pillow Marker

According to Random House College Dictionary, the term tombstone originally referred to a stone marker that was usually inscribed on a tomb or grave

In this 4 part blog series I will talk about upright, flat, pillow and digital markers.

There are many things to consider when arranging for a pillow marker.

If it is a pillow marker the first consideration is the cemetery regulations.  Cemetery by-laws regulate the placement of pillow markers on graves within their grounds.  The rules and regulations will also stipulate the size, materials and type of pillow marker allowed.  Before your finalize your order be sure you are in compliance with the Cemetery regulations, as they can and are known to refuse the placement of a  pillow  marker that does not comply with the by-laws.

A pillow marker is similar to a flat marker.  The difference is that they have a slanted face, created by having a higher back edge.  Pillow markers can be sited flat on a concrete base on the ground or they can be sited upright with the slant side facing forward.  Again there is a concrete base on the ground first.

Image courtesy of Headstones and Memorials.com

Can you personalize a pillow marker?

There is a wide range of stone colours to select from as shown in the chart below.

Pillowed markers may be personalized with custom shapes, sizes, or designs

A pillow marker can also be personalized with emblems or symbols that are carved into the granite.  Below is a very small sample of the personalization options available.

How much does a Pillow Marker cost?

Several factors are involved in the price of pillow marker. Factors that will influence the cost include: the size, type of material, personalization details, number of letters, the type of engraving or etching on the stone.  Included in the pricing of a pillow marker will be the foundation that the marker is placed on, as well as the installation cost of siting the pillow marker.

If you would like to know more about the process please connect with me

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

P.S. Tombstone is also the name of a city south east of Tucson, Arizona scene of the gunfight at the OK corral in 1881

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Tombstone to Monument: Part 2, Flat Marker

According to Random House College Dictionary, the term tombstone originally referred to a stone marker that was usually inscribed on a tomb or grave

In this 4 part blog series I will talk about upright, flat, pillow and digital markers.  This blog will focus on the flat marker.

There are many things to consider when arranging for a memorial marker.

A flat marker can be used to commemorate a person or an event.  A flat marker is also called a grass marker, as this type of memorial marker is sited on the ground.  Flat markers are typically made of granite or bronze.

If it is a flat marker the first consideration is the cemetery regulations.  Cemetery by-laws regulate the placement of flat markers on graves within their grounds.  The rules and regulations will also stipulate the size, materials and type of flat marker allowed.  Before your finalize your order be sure you are in compliance with the Cemetery regulations, as they can and are known to refuse the placement of an flat  marker that does not comply with their by-laws.

Can a Flat Marker Be Personalized?

A flat marker can also be personalized with emblems or symbols that are carved into the granite or attached to the bronze plaque. To the right is a very small sample of the personalization options available.

How much does a Flat Marker cost?

Several factors are involved in the price of flat marker.  Factors that will influence the cost include: the size, type of material, personalization details, number of letters, and the type of engraving or etching on the stone.  Included in the pricing of a flat marker will be the foundation that the marker is placed on, as well as the installation cost of siting the flat marker.

For information on upright markers, please see my previous blog by clicking here.  And stay tuned for my upcoming blogs on pillow and digital markers.

If you would like to know more about the process please connect with me.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

Ps.   Tombstone is also the name of a city southeast of Tucson, Arizona named by prospector Ed Schieffelin who found silver there in 1877 after being told all he would find was his tombstone.  Tombstone became one of the richest and most lawless frontier mining towns.

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Tombstone to Monument: Part One, Upright Marker

According to Collins English Dictionary, the term tombstone originally referred to the flat stone on top of a grave or the lid of a stone coffin.  The term dates back to 1711 and can also be another term for a gravestone or headstone.  In present day, tombstones are now referred to as “markers”.

In this 4 part blog series I will talk about the four different types of markers: upright, flat, pillow and digital.  This blog will focus on the upright marker.

There are many things to consider when arranging for a memorial marker.

If it is an upright memorial marker or headstone, the first consideration is the cemetery regulations.  Cemetery by-laws regulate the placement of upright markers on graves within their grounds.  Their rules and regulations will also stipulate the size, materials and types of headstone allowed.  Before your finalize your order of an upright marker be sure you are in compliance with the Cemetery regulations, as they can and are known to refuse the placement of a upright marker that does not comply with their by-laws.

Upright marker - no walkerHow soon can a marker be sited on a grave?

Typically this falls into two categories.  Some people install an upright marker prior to their death, while others do this when the first partner dies.  For family, the upright marker serves as a focal point when visiting the grave and setting in stone the memorialization of a loved one.  Typically the date of birth is on the stone and the date of death can be added onsite at a later date.

How much does an Upright Marker cost?

Several factors are involved in the price of an upright monument.  Things to consider are the size, type of material, personalization details, number of letters, the type of engraving or etching on the stone and the number of sides that are polished or left rough on the upright marker.

Included in the pricing of an upright marker will be the foundation that the upright marker is placed on, as well as the installation cost of siting the upright marker.

If you would like to know more about the process please connect with me.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

P.S.   Tombstone is also the name of a city in Arizona named by prospector Ed Schieffelin who found silver there in 1877 after being told all he would find was his tombstone.

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Celebration of Life: Committal Service – Part 3

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

In part 1 of this blog I mentioned that a funeral service means that the body of the deceased is present at the service. In part 2 I mentioned that at a memorial service the body is not present.  Now, I will explain what a Committal Service is and how it is different from the other two services.

A committal service may be the last step in a funeral or memorial service.  Alternatively a committal service could be a standalone celebration of life.

A committal service can be associated with cremation, burial or entombment.

With cremation the committal service could be at a cemetery or at a private location.  If the committal service for cremation is at a cemetery than the cremated remains can be buried into the ground, scatted in a memorial garden or inurned into a niche in a columbarium.

A committal service may also be held at the crematorium prior to the initiation of the cremation process.  This may also be called witnessing cremation and is especially important to people observing Hindu funeral traditions.

With earth burial the committal service is held at the graveside and the final benediction is observed before the casket is lowered into the grave.  Often people will put flowers on top of the casket to pay their last respects to the deceased.  It is the family’s choice to remain to see the casket lowered into the grave and the grave filled in.  Some families elect to participate in this by added a handful or shovelful of soil into the grave.

With entombment of a casket the committal service is held in the mausoleum.  After the final benediction many families remain to witness the casket being raised into the mausoleum space and sealed.

Whether you would like your life celebrated with a funeral, memorial or committal service, it is important to create the right type of service to say goodbye.  This helps your family and loved one express their grief and comfort each other.

You can take this pressure off of your family and friends by creating your own funeral file.  Things to consider doing now are to write your own obituary.  If you are not sure where to start, read other obituaries in print or online.  What do you like about them?  What don’t you like?  The important part is to start.  Perhaps think of three words that sum up your life contributions and achievements.  By outlining what is important to you and what your life means to you; you are letting others know about you and how you want to be remembered.  Just start, something is better than nothing.

Consider also including pictures, songs, poems, readings, or scriptures that you like. The absolute best way to record your wishes for your celebration of life is to have it written down and prepaid at the funeral home.

If you are unsure how/where to start, I invite you to connect with me.  I work with my clients to make this process easier and to avoid any headaches for the family during an already emotional time after the deceased has passed.  To help start the discussion, I offer a free consultation to see the available options and how to get started preplanning.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, 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. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

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

 

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What Needs to Be Done When Someone Dies?

I had three calls this week from colleagues asking me to guide them through the process of what has to happen when a loved one dies.  Unfortunately in each case there was no preplanning nor had the families had any conversations about what type of funeral the deceased wanted.  Imagine their total bewilderment and shock at having to make important once in a life time decisions – all while they are in a state of total emotional overwhelm.

I think we could all agree that this is not the optimal state of mind to be in to have to make funeral decisions.  Especially when there are so many steps involved that haven’t been thought about.  To give you an idea of this comprehensive list, I have prepared a short list of just a few of the many steps involved in what needs to be done when someone dies. Read more

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Is that Really my Loved One’s Cremated Remains?

prepaid funerals Mississauga Oakville

A concern that people have shared with me is “How do I know that it is really my loved one’s cremated remains that I am getting back?” The answer to this is that our full circle of care of loved one’s cremated remains starts from the initial transfer and there is a very detailed and organized method of identifying your loved one.

When someone dies and they are to be cremated, the deceased is transferred from the place of death to the funeral home. At the place of death the identification of the deceased is checked before the body is transferred to the funeral home. Once the deceased is at the funeral home, a cremation application is filled out and signed by the Estate Trustee. Each cremation application has a unique number. This number identifies the deceased and the coroner that signed the cremation application. The Estate Trustee is given copies of these forms. Read more

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Securing Clergy to Officiate Funeral Services in Ontario

clergy for funeral Ontario

Funeral directors can act as a tremendous resource and connector for grieving families and those wishing to pre-plan their funeral. One of the things they have a good handle on is securing appropriate clergy to officiate during a funeral or memorial service. Many families do not have a religious affiliation or perhaps their loved one died in a town unfamiliar to them. Read more