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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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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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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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What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service Part 2

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.  Now I will go over the details of a memorial service and the primary difference between a funeral service and a memorial service.

A memorial service means that the body of the deceased is not present at the celebration of life.  The deceased may have been buried or cremated prior to the memorial service.  Or in other more tragic circumstances, the body of the deceased may not be available to hold a funeral service and the family elects to have a memorial service instead.

Visiting is very common with a memorial service.  Visiting could be a day or two before or a few hours prior to the memorial service on the same day.  Visiting is not obligatory, yet many families value this time to have the support of their family and friends.

A family could hold a memorial service in addition to or in place of a funeral service.  For instance, the family may elect to hold a funeral service in the town where the deceased lived and died. Then hold a memorial service at a later date in the town where the person was born.

Whether you prefer a funeral or a memorial service, the important piece is to think through how you would like your life to be celebrated.

Take a quiet moment and ponder what this looks like for you.  Then take massive action.  Set up your plans and prefund them at the funeral home of your choice.  Finally, let your family know you have done this, especially your Estate Trustee.  Do not include your funeral or memorial services in your will, as the will is typically read after the celebration of life.

One family comes to mind that experienced this unfortunate issue.  When their father died they had no idea how he wanted his life celebrated.  They discussed this and elected to have him cremated and then held a memorial service.  Later when they read his will, they found out he had wanted to be buried – oops!  Unfortunately cremation is irreversible and this family had to live with their decision.

Don’t put your family is this position.  Take charge of your celebration of life and set it up the way you want now.

If you are unsure where/how to start, then I invite you to connect with me.  I work with my clients to make this process easier and to avoid any headaches 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 Happens to My Prepaid Funeral Plan If I Move?

I was asked this question three times this week; what happens to my prepaid funeral plan if I move?  And each time I gave the answer: when people set up a prepaid funeral plan the money within the plan is always the purchaser’s money.

The Canada Revenue Agency mandates that the funds within a prepaid funeral plan must be insured to $100,000.00 in the purchaser’s name.  These funds are also earning 2% tax exempt interest within the prepaid funeral plan.

The prepaid funeral plan is called an Eligible Funeral Arrangement (EFA) and this is only available via a licensed funeral home and a licensed funeral director.

As these funds are the purchaser’s funds, if the purchaser moves, these funds move with them.  Similarly if a person moves, their banking accounts, investments and other financial assets also move with them.

Changing the Assigned Funeral Home

When people move, the funds in the EFA are still their funds and the funeral home that the funds are assigned to is changed.  This is a very easy process.  All that is required is a letter from the purchaser asking that the EFA funds be reassigned to the desired funeral home.  There may be an administration fee to do this.  When people work with me, I have never charged this administration fee.

Review New Funeral Home Policies on Accepting Prepaid Funeral Plans

While the funds are easily transferred, there is a potential downside.  The reassignment of the EFA funds does not obligate the new funeral home to guarantee the future cost.  Having stated this, most funeral home are very willing to accept the prepaid funeral plan as this is a future funded funeral that is on their books.

It can be difficult to consider our own mortality, yet this is one certainty in life.  It is so much easier to solve this issue when we are alive, than to have your family thrown into having to plan a funeral when they are in emotional turmoil.

Do you have an EFA in place?  If you want to learn more or if you’re not sure what is important to have organized or how to do this than please click on the link below to purchase your PDF copy or hard copy of the Taking Care of Business – Executors Workbook to help you get started on being organized.  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. 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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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

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Remembrance Day – What Coin Will You Leave Today?

Canadian Soldier WW2

During the time of the Roman Empire, as a way of leaving money for the deceased in the hereafter, people would place a coin on the headstone to indicate they had visited. The tradition continued after the Vietnam War on Remembrance Day as a popular way to pay one’s respects to fallen soldiers.

The coin denomination indicated your relationship to the deceased. For example, if you left a: Read more