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Navigating Funeral Planning: A Guide to Making Informed Choices

Planning a funeral can be an overwhelming experience, especially during a time of grief and loss. The purpose of this blog post is to provide guidance and support to those who are navigating this challenging process. From understanding your rights as a consumer to considering cost-effective options for caskets and urns, we’ll explore various aspects of funeral planning. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions and to provide clarity and comfort in a difficult time.

Here are seven steps we recommend you follow when planning a funeral.

A woman holds a clipboard that reads "Last Will And Testament Of" in the foreground. In the background, a man's face is half visible and blurred out.

1) If Possible, Plan Ahead

Planning is not always possible if the passing of a loved one is sudden. However, if you do have time to prepare, you should use it to plan as much as you can. Talk to your friend or family member about what they would like after their passing. Although it can be a hard conversation to have, it is necessary. Having this discussion beforehand will reduce stress levels when it comes time to plan the funeral.

2) Research, Research, Research

Research potential funeral homes before you commit to using one. Funeral homes have been known to push grieving customers into expensive packages and services that are not required for a successful funeral. We highly recommend watching the investigation that CBC Marketplace did on the funeral home industry. Some methods you can use to research potential funeral homes include:

  • Look for online reviews on platforms like Google or Yelp. Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback to get a comprehensive view.
  • Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have gone through a similar experience. Personal recommendations can provide valuable insights.
  • Compare prices from different funeral homes. Funeral homes are required by law to provide an itemized price list. Request and compare these lists from different funeral homes to ensure transparency and to get an idea of the overall costs.
  • Visit the funeral home. Schedule visits to potential funeral homes. This allows you to assess the facilities, meet the staff, and ask any questions you may have about their services and pricing.

3) Set a Budget and Stick to it

Remember that a more expensive service or casket does not equate to more respect for the deceased. It’s okay to opt for more affordable options.

When considering your budget for funeral arrangements, a significant factor to consider can be the cost of a casket or urn. At Casket Mart we offer a range of high-quality caskets and urns that rival those available at funeral homes, but at a more affordable price. The reason for this cost efficiency is straightforward: by purchasing from Casket Mart, you avoid the substantial markup often applied by funeral homes. Plus, our direct-to-funeral home shipping service adds convenience to affordability.

4) Bring a Trusted Friend or Family Member When You Go to The Funeral Home

When meeting with funeral home staff, it can be helpful to bring someone who can provide emotional support and help you make clear-headed decisions. Grief can cloud judgment, and having a friend or family member present can help in making more objective decisions. They can provide a different perspective and help you think through your choices more clearly.  They can also help you understand the various packages and options the funeral home has available to help you make a decision that aligns with your budget.

A woman dressed in black stands with her back to the camera. A hand is coming out of the right hand side of the frame to touch her back and comfort her.

5) Keep a Few Things to Yourself

The funeral home does not need to know anything about the size of the estate or any financial information regarding benefit amounts. You should not discuss anything related to this until you have already discussed the price of each product and service they offer.

6) Know Your Rights as a Consumer

Funeral homes and related services in Canada are regulated by provincial and territorial laws, which can vary. For example, in Ontario, the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act (FBCSA) and the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) regulate the industry to help protect consumers. Some key consumer rights under the FBCSA in Ontario include:

  • Licensing Requirements: All cemeteries, crematoriums, funeral homes, and transfer service operators in Ontario must be licensed.
  • Price List Disclosure: Providers are required to give consumers a price list of all supplies and services before a contract is made. They must also disclose any business arrangements that could influence their recommendations, such as commissions or benefits from third parties like florists or caterers.
  • Contract Cancellation and Refunds: Consumers have a 30-day cooling-off period after signing a contract for funeral, cemetery, or crematorium supplies or services, during which they can cancel and receive a full refund. After this period, contract cancellation is still possible but may incur a fee, which cannot exceed 10% of the contract cost or $350.
  • Guaranteed Prepaid Contracts: As of July 1, 2012, prepaid contracts are guaranteed, meaning the provider must supply everything specified in the contract without additional charges, even if prices have risen.
  • Accessibility: Materials from funeral homes, cemeteries, crematoriums, or transfer services must be made available in accessible formats (like large print or audio) at no extra cost if required.
  • Provider Reputation: Consumers have the right to inquire about any disciplinary actions taken against bereavement-related businesses or their employees and to check the status of their licenses
  • Interment Rights: Consumers have rights regarding the purchase and resale of interment or scattering rights. Resale prices are regulated, and transactions often need to go through the cemetery operator.
  • Consumer Protection and High Standards: The FBCSA broadly creates consistent consumer protection and promotes high standards for all licensees and operators in the bereavement sector.

Two other important rights to understand involve embalming and third party caskets and urns.

  • In Canada, embalming is not legally required except in certain circumstances, such as when a body is to be transported over a long distance. Funeral homes should provide information about the circumstances under which embalming is necessary.
  • Funeral homes are legally required to accept caskets and urns from third-party suppliers. This means that you have the freedom to purchase these items from a provider like Casket Mart and have them delivered directly to the funeral home prior to the service.

7) Consult a Funeral Planner

Navigating funeral planning can be complex and emotionally taxing. To ease this process, consider consulting a professional funeral planner like Assured Memorial Services. Their expertise in organizing commemorative events can provide significant financial relief by offering high-quality services at reduced costs. This approach not only ensures a respectful tribute to your loved one but also alleviates the financial burden during a challenging time. For personalized, cost-effective funeral planning, contact Assured Memorial Services. Their commitment to supporting families through these trying moments can be a valuable resource in your journey of remembrance.

To conclude this post, we want to reiterate that this journey, while challenging, can be navigated with dignity and respect for everyone involved. By being informed, knowing your rights and understanding the options available to you, you can create a meaningful tribute to your loved one that aligns with both your emotional needs and financial constraints.

Our thoughts are with you during this time, and we hope this guide has offered some guidance and solace in your planning process. If you are in the process of planning a funeral and are interested in learning more about how Casket Mart can help, use the links below to view our products or contact us.