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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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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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Celebration of Life: Online Tribute and Social Media – Part 4

Another way to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one is via main stream media or online social media tributes. This could be a standalone celebration of life or used to augment a funeral, memorial, or committal service.

Online tributes and social media memorials are gaining in popularity because of their ease of accessibility. Whether it is the celebration of life of a prominent public figure, or if people are emotionally, physically, financially, legally or logistically unable to attend in person, they can still participate virtually from anywhere in the world.  Some people also just prefer to grieve in private, while still paying their respects.

Live-Streaming a Celebration of Life: a Virtual Funeral

The celebration of life could be watched on television for thousands to view or on a smaller scale there could be live streaming of the celebration from the funeral home or church.  If the funeral home does this for the family they will often have a recorded copy to give back to the family afterwards.

With the massive increase in social media, this is a wonderful way to have family and friends participate in the celebration of life no matter their physical location.  Live streaming of the celebration of life allows multiple people to contribute from vast distances.  There is also the ability to record the celebration of life and have a permanent record to share with others or add pictures to after the service.

Online Obituaries

Newspaper death notices are becoming more obsolete, partially due to the cost and the prevalence of online media.  Many funeral homes will also have an online obituary page for the deceased.  Comments sent in from the public are moderated before they are posted online.  There is also the option to make memorial donations or purchase flowers, candles in memory of the deceased.

Facebook Remembrance Pages

The family could set up a private Facebook Remembrance Page and provide access to people who wish to contribute their memories, photos or condolences.

A lady I worked with recently elected to keep her mother’s Facebook page open.  Her rational was that her mom was very active online and knew many people from different interest groups.  She had her hiking club, church groups, family members, friends from work and her book club.  As these different groups did their activities they were able to virtually share them with their deceased friend and often commented how much they missed her and how she would have enjoyed participating.

It may seem slightly creepy to some people to see a deceased person pop up on social media, yet in this situation the daughter was very glad she made this decision and found it very comforting for the family and her mother’s associated Facebook community.

As always please be sure that your trusted representative knows your social media user names and passwords.  For more information on what happens to their social media after a loved one passes, please click here to see my previous blog.

There are many different ways to have a Celebration of Life.  To make sure that your life is celebrated the way you like, start planning now.  Let your loved ones know how you would like to be celebrated and remembered, to relieve stress on their end and to make sure you are remembered the way you like best.

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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June is Seniors Month: Time to Celebrate Our Fantastic Seniors

June is Seniors Month.  A time to honor and celebrate the lives and contributions of the generations of Canadians that took care of their families, communities and country.  Yet for many seniors it can also be a lonely time.

The incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that seniors have is a treasure to capture. Spending time with a senior near you in the month of June can be an enormously rewarding experience for all of us.

Throughout the month of June, younger generations show their appreciation and thanks for the contribution Canadian seniors have made by honoring them in many different ways.  Special events, festivals, ceremonies, dinners, and teas are held for seniors as the guests of honour.  Youth groups, choirs, and scouting/guiding organizations often organize visits to senior’s facilities. Families can get together with their older loved ones and spend special time together remembering stories, family vacations, recalling older memories and making newer ones.

What do seniors want the most?  They want your time and attention, but mostly your presence.

Here are some suggestions to show your appreciation for a senior in your life:

  1. Take them to their favorite restaurant.
  2. Take them to a movie.
  3. Make a video of the senior’s lifetime. For example you may want to ask them how they met their spouse, their favorite holiday or family memory.  Then sit back and watch the glow in their face as they remember these times.
  4. Help them organize photos, closets, cupboards, etc.
  5. Volunteer time at a nursing home or long term care facility.
  6. Mend or fix something for them.
  7. Make a hot meal, deliver it in person, and share the meal with them.
  8. Prepare several different types of home meals and freeze them in containers for them to enjoy at a later time.
  9. Take a senior on an errand or help them around their home, mow the grass, weed the garden, wash their car.
  10. Bake cookies, or smaller treats and deliver them to seniors in your neighborhood.
  11. Help a senior with their correspondence, or buy greeting cards for them and help them address them.
  12. Take a senior with you to participate in special seniors events in your community.

For the younger generation, take the time to reach out and call your grandparents or great grandparents.  They will be thrilled and talk about you for days on end!  Go ahead, just 5 minutes of your time can make a difference.  The afterglow on their face for you taking as little time to say hello will remain with them for weeks.

How do you intend to celebrate the seniors in your life?  There are so many ways we can celebrate seniors in our family and community during the month of June.  Please share your experiences with me.

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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Spring Cleaning: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with a Warm Hand

Wow, our lives sure can get busy and complicated.  We take care of our families – shuttling children to school, activities, getting the school forms signed, accumulating stuff, then chucking that “stuff” into a temporary storage space, while thinking “I’ll get to it later”. Maybe tomorrow, maybe on the weekend, maybe next week.  Then more time passes and before you know it there is more “stuff” accumulated everywhere.

As we get older, we may find that we use less and less of our everyday items.  We may have younger family members, children or grandchildren who may benefit from them.  Why not share some of your memories with family & friends and encourage them to make new ones?  This is a simple part of estate planning that can be done at any age, at any time.  The more organized your estate is, the less stress we leave our estate trustee in organizing it with the added stress of our passing. Read more

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What Happens to One’s Social Media & Digital Footprint When They Die?

Last year a colleague died suddenly and tragically.  It was a tremendous shock to the community and people showed up in droves to pay their respects.  Last week a request to endorse this person popped up on LinkedIn and I was immediately thrown right back to last year.  This left me thinking about what is the best way to handle a deceased person’s presence on social media?  What will happen to their social media accounts and digital footprint in general? Read more

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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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Taking Care of Business Executor Workbook – 2nd Edition

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At this time of year many of us turn our thoughts to holiday preparation. What will the menu be, how will I find the time to do all the shopping and how can we juggle our time to visit among various families? Then before we know it, all the preparations and festivities are over. Between Christmas and the New Year many of us take time to reflect on the holiday season and put thought into getting more organized for the coming year. In preparation for that reflective time, I am thrilled to announce the launch of the 2nd edition of Taking Care of Business – Executor’s Workbook! 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