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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.

why you need a legal will
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8 Reasons Why You Need a Legal Will

Who needs a legal Will? Every adult of mental capacity over the age of 18 years!

But, I Don’t Have Any Assets

Many people say that they do not have any assets therefore they do not need a legal will.  This is not true.  You may have few assets, yet you still need someone to be your legal voice for you when you die.

The main objective of a will is to name a person to be your Estate Trustee, to act on your behalf and to close off your estate when you die.

If you were to witness the family dysfunction, additional costs and emotional and physical turmoil that people go through when there is not a Will in place, I think you would seriously reconsider your rational to not have a valid Will.

Is Drafting a Legal Will Expensive?

Drafting a will does not have to be expensive.  There are no–cost and low-cost ways to draft a valid will.

Having a valid will in place shows that you care for your family, friends, pets and favorite charities.

Having a Valid Will Allows For:

  1. You to decide who will look after your minor children
  2. You to decide who will look after your pets
  3. Deciding who gets your assets
  4. Faster and easier settlement of your Estate
  5. Transfer of your estate in a tax effective manner
  6. Lower administration cost of your Estate
  7. Less taxes paid to the Provincial and Federal Government
  8. You to leave a bequest to your favorite charity

In short, having a valid Will in place protects the people you care about.

If you are not sure how to start or what makes a Will valid, all you have to do is connect with me and let’s chat.

It truly is that easy.

Remember where there is a Will there is a way to leave a loving legacy – because Your Legacy Matters.

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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Life is Short – Be Grateful for the Moments

Last week I had the privilege of spending a week with my Mom in Curacao.  What a beautiful place and the weather was absolutely fantastic.  As Thanksgiving is approaching, I wanted to take the time to share my appreciation of this experience that I am very thankful to have shared with my mom.

During the week one of the many things I am grateful for is that Mom and I were able to take this trip and spend quality time together.  There was time to reminisce and share memories.  And to laugh over silly things that have happened over the years.

There was also the opportunity to ask Mom questions that only she would know the answers to. What a gift!

Many people no longer have the opportunity to sit and reminisce with their loved ones.  Seize the moments that you now have and treasure these memories.  There will come a day when I can no longer ask Mom those questions or hear her voice.  That will be a very sad day indeed.

Another thing I am immensely grateful to Mom for is that she has all her plans and personal affairs organized.  When that day does eventually come, it will literally be one phone call and everything she wants done to celebrate her life will fall into place.

Too many people do not realize what a gift this is as they have to learn about Celebration of Life options and decide what to do after their loved one has died.  If you were to witness the pain, anguish, and turmoil that families go through, I am not sure you would willingly or knowingly leave your affairs in disarray.

If you are not sure what being organized looks like, contact me – there is a solution and the time is now to get your affairs in order and leave a loving legacy for your family.

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!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I wish you a wonderful weekend full of making memories with loved ones.

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. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly

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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.