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Reinvest Your Tax Return in an Eligible Funeral Arrangement

Did you receive a tax return after filing your income taxes? Wondering what to do with your tax refund to get the best bang for your buck?  You work hard for your money, so why not have your money work hard for you a second time?

Investing in an Eligible Funeral Arrangement

You can use all or part of your tax refund to set up an Eligible Funeral Arrangement.

An Eligible Funeral Arrangement (EFA) is a fully prepaid or partially prepaid eventual funeral arrangement that you set up with a licensed Funeral Home and a licensed Funeral Director.

What Are the Advantages to an Eligible Funeral Arrangement?

  • The money in the EFA is always the purchaser’s money
  • Your funds are insured to $100,000.00
  • Your funds earn tax exempt 1.75% interest
  • There are no medical questions asked, everyone is accepted
  • Easy to enroll
  • It is a simple process
  • It is a loving gift to your family
  • You are in control of your money and your wishes
  • You lock in the future price of the funeral and the inflationary risk rests with the funeral home, not the purchaser

Why Is This a Good Investment?

Eventually we all will need to have some type of funeral to celebrate our life.  In addition to arranging your celebration, you have left your family with a funded funeral plan.

Don’t leave your family a funeral tab. Rather, leave them a solid plan now.  Instead, let your family know how you want your life to be celebrated.  Your loved ones will be relieved and grateful that you have let them know what you want done in the end and that there is money set aside to fund your plan.

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.

Until next time,

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. Not only is she a Certified Professional Consultant on Ageing and an Executive Advisor, but she is compassionately understanding.  To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly

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Some Common Misconceptions About Funeral Planning

In 1998, as a third career, I knew when I graduated as a Class 1 Funeral Director that I wanted to specialize in the prepaid funeral planning with private, family owned Ontario funeral homes.  Coming from a professional educator background, I knew that there was void to be filled in educating people and helping them to know what has to be done and what can be done when setting up their eventual prepaid funeral plans.

Over the years I have had the privilege of assisting thousands of people with funeral planning.  The type of celebration they selected to reflect their wishes, values, beliefs and budgets.  Preplanning and prepaying your eventual end of life celebration is the literally the last loving gift you can give your family.

Over the years not one family has been annoyed or upset that their loved one let them know exactly how they wanted their life celebrated.  In addition to this, the family did not have an invoice to pay within 30 days’ time.  In many cases the family got a refund.  Imagine the emotional and financial relief for these families.

In response to the CBC Market Place review of funeral homes I would like to comment on the following:

1. Embalming is not mandatory

Unless a person died from an infectious disease and wishes to be buried, embalming is not mandatory.  A few years ago when we had the SARS outbreak, one family comes to mind.  When their father died he wanted to be buried, and as the family had been visiting him, ill with SARS in the hospital – they the family were quarantined for 2 weeks following his death.  As the family wanted to bury their father, their father had to be embalmed to accommodate the mandatory quarantine waiting period.

2. Identification of the deceased is not mandatory

It is entirely at the funeral home’s discretion to have this policy in place or not.  Many family-owned funeral homes will most certainly accommodate this for a family and generally do not charge a fee to identify the deceased, prior to cremation.

3. You do not have to purchase an urn from the funeral home

Cremated remains are returned to the funeral home in a temporary container.  The cremated remains are usually in a plastic bag within a temporary container, made of plastic or cardboard. You may choose to provide your own urn or no urn at all.

4. A rigid solid bottom combustible container must be used for cremation

Many funeral homes will not use cardboard for this.  Although cardboard is solid it is not necessarily sturdy.  I am sure you could imagine that it would not be a good day at the funeral home for the bottom to drop out of a cardboard cremation container.

Knowing What IS and What IS NOT Included

If you have a prepaid funeral plan in place, be sure you know exactly what is prepaid and guaranteed AND what is not prepaid or guaranteed.

The 2012 Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act mandated that Funeral Homes in Ontario must guarantee the future cost of the fully prepaid goods and services selected.  Prior to 2012, it was at the Funeral Home’s discretion to have a policy in place to guarantee or not guarantee the future cost of the fully prepaid goods and services selected.

Knowing What Type of Prepaid Contract You Have

Do not assume what is in place or not in place.  If you’re unsure, ask for clarification. One family comes to mind.  Their mother said “don’t worry everything is looked after. When I die all you have to do is call the funeral home.”

What did that mean exactly?

The family was thinking that Mom had set everything up and prepaid her Celebration of Life. When they called the funeral home – indeed there was a completed file – BUT the plan was not prepaid.

Don’t be caught with surprises on one of the worst days of your life! If you would like to discuss any of these issues or if you would like me to review your plan I would be thrilled to do so.

You can find out more about preplanning funerals here, or read my previous blog on pre-paid funerals here.

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.

Until next time,

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. Not only is she a Certified Professional Consultant on Ageing and an Executive Advisor, but she is compassionately understanding.  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 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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What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service? Part 1

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.  Sometimes the terms can be a bit confusing.  Many people do not know the main difference between a funeral service and a memorial service.  At a funeral service the body is present, while at a memorial service it is not.

A funeral service means that the body of the deceased will be present at the funeral service.

The body will be in a casket and the casket may be open or closed.  What I see more often now is that the casket is open initially for the immediate family members only prior to the public visitation.  This private time allows the immediate family members to view the deceased and pay their final respects as they say good-bye for the last time.

The casket is then closed for the public visitation.  Typical visiting times are from two to four in the afternoon and then again from seven to nine in the evening.  These times are not obligatory.  Some families may elect to have visiting from four to nine in the evening or any variation of this.  It is quite uncommon now to have visiting for two or three days.  If there are multiple visiting times it is usually to celebrate the life of a public figure or perhaps it was a sudden and tragic death.

The next day the funeral service may be held in the funeral home or place of worship. If the casket was open for the visitation, it will be closed for the funeral service.  If the funeral is held in a place of worship, then clergy presides.  If the funeral is held in the funeral home, then clergy or a funeral celebrant usually presides.  This is not mandatory and some families elect to have family members conduct the funeral service.

Following the funeral service the deceased is either buried or cremated.

Many families are now electing to have a reception immediately following the funeral service, and the final committal will be done later and privately with the immediate family only.  The rationale here is that if the family has the burial immediately following the funeral service many people will not remain in attendance for the reception and will leave after the funeral service.  Of course this is situational as sometimes the cemetery is close by and people will attend the committal service and/or wait until the family returns from the committal service for the reception.  A reception is not mandatory, yet many families appreciate the social aspects of a reception and the opportunity to catch up with family members and friends.

If the casket is to be cremated and if the funeral was at a place of worship the casket will be returned to the funeral home and then transferred to the crematorium.  The cremated remains will be returned to the funeral home within a few days.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog next week to help you decide what type of service is best for you.

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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The Unexpected Tax Incentive Canadians Don’t Necessarily Want to Think About

A coffin with a flower arrangement in a morgue

My article “The Unexpected Tax Incentive Canadians Don’t Necessarily Want to Think About” was recently published by Gail Johnson in Yahoo Finance Canada.  I would like to share this article with you here.

There’s a tax incentive that some Canadians are dying to get.

Income earned on contributions made to an “Eligible Funeral Arrangement” is allowed to grow tax-free under Canada’s Income Tax Act. Read more

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Who Will Preplan & Prepay Your Funeral Arrangements if you Can’t?

Alzheimers and funeral preplanningIt is estimated that by the year 2020 – 1 in 4 people will be diagnosed with cognitive related issues under the Alzheimer’s umbrella. The onset of cognitive decline may be slow and progressive or rapid and unexpected. The Alzheimer’s Society advocates “Speak Up” – get your affairs in order now. I have adapted this information in the context of prepaid funeral pre-planning. The question I pose to you is:  If you are not of mental capacity – then who will make your funeral pre-arrangements for you? Read more

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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. Read more

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Brain Donation

brain donationMany people consider body or tissue donation but have you considered brain donation?

Brain donation to the Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank provides national and international researchers with the necessary brain tissue; cells, proteins, and genes to study neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases.

Both healthy and unhealthy brains are required to provide the brain tissue for researchers to strive to understand mental and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer Disease, Parkinson Disease, frontotemporal dementia, Pick disease, and the biological factors associated with mood disorders, and suicide.

Read more

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Are Catholics Allowed to be Cremated?

When completing funeral pre-planning with people of the Catholic faith, I am often asked if the church allows Catholics to be cremated.  As outlined in the liturgical leaflet “Catholics and Cremation” edited by the National Liturgy Office (1998, 2003, 2006), the simple answer is yes.

Prior to 1963, cremation was thought to be anti-Christian and prohibited for Catholics.  After 1963, cremation was recognized by the Catholic church as long as the motive for cremation was in line with the Christian teaching outlined in the Code of Canon Law 1176 § 3.

The church’s preference is that the body is present in the church for a funeral Mass and that cremation takes place after the Mass.

Read more