Prepare Funeral Costs and Arrangments Ahead Of Time
Nobody wants to think about dying, let alone how much it costs to plan a funeral in Canada, even though we’re all going out similarly.
The reality is that unless you’ve been through the process of planning a funeral and what is involved.
Death Changes People
After my dad passed away, I used to be that person who said to cremate me and throw me into the ocean, but I’ve changed my mind.
When that happened, I was 17 years old and didn’t understand the implications of death and emotional turmoil.
Coming from a broken home and hardly seeing my dad, his death didn’t hit me as hard as you would expect.
We never saw eye to eye, and he didn’t do the things you’d expect from a dad after he got remarried with stepkids.
Funeral Planning Experience
This is certainly not something you want to put on your resume unless you are looking for work as a funeral director.
After having gone to a funeral in Canada a couple of years ago and witnessing the warmth of love, the pain of missing it hit me.
Mind you, I had just turned 41 at the time, and having gone through the funeral planning process was an eye-opener.
Once Mrs. CBB and I were done planning the funeral with her siblings, we hired a lawyer to create a Will with us.
Equally important was what we had learned about the funeral process, which further motivated us to think about our future deaths.
Funeral Planning and Burial Costs In Canada
Today I want to explore a few topics related to death in Canada.
- What to wear to a funeral?
- How to dress your loved one
- Types of Funerals In Canada
- Financial Assistance For Funerals In Canada
- Saving and Planning To Pay For Your Funeral
- Ways You Can Pay For Your Funeral
- Real Funeral receipt with all the financial figures and prep work needed for a Catholic Funeral. This includes the Funeral director meeting, Visitation, Preparation, Afternoon luncheon, and Mauseleoum Service at the Cemetary.
- After the funeral – That’s another post you can look forward to.
Types Of Funeral Arrangements In Canada
In Canada, there are four types of funeral arrangements that you can choose from.
Traditional Funeral – This is a full traditional funeral with all the bells and whistles and may include burial, mausoleum, or cremation.
Memorial – This may be where the deceased has already been buried or cremated but with a service. Also, if the body has not been embalmed, the family may choose a memorial with no viewing.
Graveside Funeral – This funeral takes place at the graveside, where the casket or ashes will be placed.
Quick cremation or burial – This funeral happens fast after death with no viewing or service and is the cheapest funeral arrangement.
When you create your Will, it’s important to state what type of funeral you’d like so your wishes are met.
Most importantly, preparing your Estate Will ahead of time will save you money, less stress on the executor and family, and allows you time to save for the costs involved.
Suppose you do not have a funeral but have communicated your dying wishes for a particular funeral to your executor, lawyer, or administrator.
In that case, they may follow through based on available funds.
Appropriate Funeral Clothes
Traditionally people wear black to a formal funeral, which is how it stands today.
Men wear a black suit and dress pants with a white shirt and black tie, and the ladies wear a black dress or black slacks, a shirt, and shoes.
You can accessorize your funeral outfit with hats, scarves, gloves, and earrings if you want to get fancy.
However, it’s not uncommon to see guests wearing clothing that the deceased asked to wear, such as a certain colour.
When you go to a funeral, no one cares about what your funeral clothes look like as long as they are clean.
Even if someone who came to my funeral were homeless or down on their luck and had dirty, ripped clothes, I wouldn’t care.
I would be honoured if he or she turned up to say farewell.
We are too hard on society today regarding what is expected, as not everyone has the money to pay for such occasions.
You are there to pay your respects and say your final goodbye’s to someone you once knew and will always continue to hold in your heart.
We had two people show up to the funeral home visitation in work clothes which was perfectly acceptable to us.
The fact that they took time on their lunch to pass by to say goodbye and support our family was more important than anything.
How To Dress Your Loved One For Their Funeral
The funeral we held was an open-casket visitation, so the funeral director told us to bring a white shirt, tie, and black pants with no shoes or socks.
There was no need for shoes or socks since only half the casket would be open and you wouldn’t see the end of the body.
You may find that the POA or surviving spouse already knows from reading the Will or conversations with the deceased before death what they want to be sent off in.
That was not the case for us,, but it certainly wasn’t a reason to panic.
Unfortunately, we went to the men’s clothing store to buy black slacks and a white shirt to fit the deceased.
The reason was that everything at home that used to fit him was far too big.
For a woman, they may ask you to bring whatever the deceased may have requested or what you feel is appropriate for the viewing.
A simple dress or top and slacks will work beautifully, especially if it is the style the person wore when they were alive.
The cost for the dress pants, dress shirt, and black tie came to $145.35 new however you can always check secondhand shops if you have time to wash it.
Financial Assistance For Funeral Costs In Canada
In Ontario, no one will ever be denied the dignity of being buried if they cannot afford to do so or if there is no one to claim the body.
Each year the provinces spend millions of dollars on burials for those unable to pay the costs involved.
“Everyone is entitled to a funeral,’’ says Cheryl Mahyr, spokesperson for the office of Ontario’s chief coroner. ‘
In Ontario last year, $12.4-million was spent on funerals and burials — each budgeted at a guideline amount of $2,250 — for low-income people who received welfare or disability benefits, a spokesperson for the ministry of community and social services said.Source
If a body goes unclaimed after a few weeks, it is passed to the municipality to make funeral arrangements.
Most of the deceased are homeless, have no loved ones, or have no one willing to claim them.
The B.C. government spent $3.2-million in 2013/14 for just under 2,000 burials, a spokesperson for the ministry of social development and social innovation said. (B.C. authorities do not track reasons why funerals couldn’t be otherwise funded.
Those who apply for funeral costs assistance must apply through their municipality before talking to the funeral home.
In the Peel Region of Ontario, below are the eligibility criteria for someone who needs funeral costs assistance.
Peel only covers two funeral packages: no visitation or service or visitation service plus cremation and burial.
Source: Peel Region
Step 1: Check your eligibility
To be eligible for help:
- The person must be deceased – we will not pre-approve applications for a person who is not deceased.
- The deceased person must have been a resident of Peel when they passed away.
- You must give the Region of Peel information about the deceased person’s income, assets, life insurance, and property.
- You must know the deceased person’s full name, date of birth, social insurance number, and marital status at the time of death.
Eligibility is based on the following:
- The deceased person’s income, assets, life insurance, property, etc. (if the value of these assets is higher than the allowable level for the family size, financial assistance will be refused).
- The deceased person’s family assets (if the deceased person was not single at the time of death).
- The parent(s)/legal guardian’s eligibility if the deceased person was a minor/child.
If you are on ODSP or government assistance, you already qualify but must go through the process.
However, if you do not receive ODSP or other assistance, you can still apply through your municipality for help with funeral costs.
Other Ways To Pay For Funeral Costs
Besides saving money in an investment or a savings account for your funeral, there are other options for paying your funeral bill.
Budget Your Funeral Costs
Using a monthly budget is a great way to start stashing away cash for your future funeral if you don’t have an insurance policy.
Some people like to pay for their burial plot ahead of time to save money today as the costs go up year after year.
If this is the case, find out how much your burial will cost, factor that into your monthly budget, and save for it.
Put the money into a separate bank account and once you have saved the amount in full payment for your burial plot.
That takes care of one part of the process for whoever looks after your affairs once you are gone.
If your home is your retirement savings and you pass away with little to no money in the bank, perhaps the survivor can sell the home.
Selling the home and freeing up any equity will allow him/her to pay for the funeral costs instead of charging it to a credit card.
For most people, by the time retirement comes around, their house should be paid in full, but not for everyone.
For this reason, it’s always a smart idea to save for emergencies and invest in an RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered investment account.
If all you have for an asset is your home then the decision is up to the survivor, POA, or assigned personnel to make that final call.
Ideally, if you pre-plan your funeral and find the average costs, you can start saving or adding it to your projected expenses.
Buying life insurance is like a ticket for cash if you die but under the provisions set out in the policy.
You may be covered if you have a term life insurance policy or a whole life insurance policy and pass away while it is active.
It may only be because it depends on the type of insurance coverage you hold and the details.
Therefore, it’s important to talk to your financial advisor so you understand exactly what you’d be covered for in the event of your death.
This is another reason I’d buy life insurance over mortgage insurance since life insurance pays you a full premium.
Still, mortgage insurance only covers the remainder of the mortgage.
You can more bang for your buck with term life insurance than you do mortgage insurance so I’d ditch that.
Veterans in Canada may qualify for financial assistance for their funeral following military service or other related services through Veteran Affairs Canada, a program established in 1909.
To qualify, the Veteran must have been:
- a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces or any predecessor naval, army or air forces of Canada or Newfoundland; or
- a Canadian Merchant Navy Veteran of the Second World War or the Korean War; or
- an Allied Veteran who served with the Allied Forces during the Second World War or the Korean War.
- The Veteran must also have lived in Canada for at least 10 years, or lived in Canada prior to enlisting and was living in Canada at their time of death.
Financial Qualifications For Veterans
Veterans of Canada may qualify for assistance provided through a fund called the Last Post Fund that assists financially with burials including Veterans.
The amount of money for a Veteran is based on net assets at the time of his/her death and there is a one-year time limit to apply after the death.
For this reason, if the estate or assets will not cover the costs of the funeral and burial partial or full payment may be made on the deceased behalf.
Also for a single veteran where assets or the estate will not cover any existing liabilities along with the funeral and burial, they will qualify for financial assistance.
In the case of a Veteran with a spouse or dependent children, the combined assets of the couple are considered, excluding:
- A base amount of $37,720
- $700 per dependent child
- The family house and vehicle
- Income received during the month of death
You can read more about the Funeral and Burial Costs for Veterans in Canada here.
Some employee benefits plans have a section that may cover some of your funeral costs or perhaps offer a lump sum payment to an employee’s spouse or family.
Again, if you are not sure, refer to your employee handbook or talk to your Human Resources department for more information.
Knowing ahead of time help you to plan the expenses of the funeral you want to have as well as to fit it into your budget.
What is the average cost of funeral expenses in Canada?
The average funeral cost in Canada is around $8500 or more, depending on what you include.
You can Google all you want, the prices of what a funeral cost will be, and get various numbers.
If you’ve been through the process of burying a loved one, then you know how easily costs can escalate based on choices.
Cremation, for example, can cost anywhere from $2000 to $5000, whereas a traditional burial funeral with a casket and ceremony can cost $7000- $15,000 or more.
Basic funeral costs can start around $5000 to upwards of $15,o00 for the average price.
On the other hand, if you opt for a Catholic funeral service with the whole nine yards including burial in a mausoleum, the costs are well into $35,000-$40,000.
The moral of the funeral costs story is that if you wish to be buried a certain way, start saving now.
How To Research Funeral Costs In Your Area
My advice is if you know what area or funeral home you would like your service done at you can do a few things to determine the costs.
- Go to the funeral home website where almost all list pricing for their services.
- Make a phone call and perhaps an appointment to visit with a funeral director to talk about the process and costs involved.
- Call the church to see the costs of hiring the priest for a mass or service at the funeral home or burial.
- Shop around for funeral flowers for casket arrangements to get average costs
- Find out whether the funeral home you choose allows you to buy a casket or urn from a third party or what the costs are of the caskets and urns they sell. Some funeral homes will allow you to buy a casket outside of the home but consider shipping costs and timing as well.
- Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a bundle discount if you use quite a few of the services at the funeral home.
Costs of Buying A Casket
Some examples of the third-party casket and urn sellers in Canada.
Below is an example of a casket you can buy from Costco Canada and its cost.
Walker Casket – Eternity II Walnut – Expedited Shipping
- Maple veneer,
- Walnut finish
Pay For Your Funeral In Advance
Although we’d love to pay for our final resting spots in advance, we don’t know where that will be.
In the meantime, we’ve done a few things to ensure we have the money to cover a full funeral for each of us.
Planning your death arrangements means you get the opportunity to go out the way you want to.
One of the bleakest tasks next to creating a Will is planning for your funeral from start to finish in the mausoleum.
Not everyone gets this opportunity based on how long they live and whether or not they took the opportunity to make funeral arrangements.
Some people pre-purchase their burial plot, cremation space (indoors), or mausoleum wall (indoor or outdoor) while the costs are lower as they will always go up.
You’re paying for a piece of real estate where your body will rest for eternity.
For example, my mother-in-law had her mausoleum plot paid for before her passing, so it’s one less financial aspect to worry about.
I will run down the costs that were paid for a full Catholic funeral in Ontario to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Funeral Costs References In Canada
In Memory, the website has a fabulous breakdown of funeral costs that I want to share with you.
Below are just a few charts they have compiled for funeral cost references.
You can see that this chart references the traditional funeral from the funeral home to the casket and other disbursements.
Casket prices, on average, start around the $2000 mark and can go as high as tens of thousands of dollars.
The casket we chose for my father-in-law was $2800 plus taxes and a beautiful mahogany colour.
For more details on graveside burial costs or cremation costs in a chart such as the above, visit InMemory. (website no longer running)
Survivors Pension In Canada
In Canada, you may qualify for a survivor’s pension if you are the spouse, common-law partner, or perhaps a separated legal spouse where the deceased has no common-law partner.
How much of a survivor’s pension will I get?
That depends on your age, whether you are under or over 65, and how long the deceased paid into the Canada Pension Plan.
|If the survivor is:||Then the survivor’s pension is:|
|age 65 or more||60% of the contributor’s retirement pension if the surviving spouse or common-law partner is not receiving other CPP benefits|
|under age 65||a flat rate portion
37.5% of the contributor’s retirement pension, if the surviving spouse or common-law partner is not receiving other CPP benefits
Another quick note is that if you are already receiving other benefits, such as disability pension or CPP, they will combine the survivor’s pension with that payment.
Death Benefit In Canada
What is the death benefit?
In Canada, a death benefit is a one-time lump sum payment to the deceased’s estate.
If there is an estate, the executor named in the will or the administrator named by the courts must apply for the death benefit 60 days after the death.
In the case of no estate, the one-time lump sum payment may go to whoever applies for it, such as the funeral home, surviving spouse, common-law partner, or next of kin of the deceased.
To be eligible, the deceased must have paid into CPP for 10 years or one-third of the calendar years in their contributory period for the base CPP, but no less than 3 calendar years.
For example, my mother-in-law received a flat rate cheque for $2500 to help cover any costs related to the funeral or needs she may have.
To apply, you must fill out the death benefit application form found on Canada.ca and you can expect payment between 6 to 12 weeks.
For those of you from Quebec, you should contact the Quebec Pension Plan for further details on the death benefit in your area.
You can find more info about the Death Benefit In Canada here.
How much is the cheapest burial?
The cheapest burial is a cremation that varies from the funeral home to the funeral home but can range anywhere from $1500 to $5000.
For example, Toronto Cremation Services and Burials will complete a cremation for $1441, taxes included.
Of course, you can add the extras, which will bump up the costs, such as a casket or an urn which you will likely do.
Here is a rundown of what they offer for services.
According to Industry Statistical Information in 2019, about 73.1% of people in Canada who passed away were cremated.
By 2024 that number is expected to rise to 77.6%, which is not surprising given the high costs of a funeral in Canada.
Funeral Home Comparisons
Update 2022: Unfortunately, the InMemory Canada website is no longer running.
If you go to InMemory.ca they offer a fantastic comparison widget to compare funeral homes and costs in your area.
Just fill in the area you want to find a funeral home in and the type of funeral and the system will populate a list for you.
Once this is populated, scroll down and find the funeral homes you’d like to explore.
For this example, I chose Bernardo Funeral Home in Mississauga, Ontario.
As you can see, the information you get is complete with burial and cremation costs, although they are subject to change.
Full Catholic Funeral and Mausoleum Costs
The costs involved in a full Catholic funeral with Mausoleum tomb costs are becoming popular, but they come with a price.
You’ll also find that mausoleum tombs don’t last very long as they are generally scooped up by family and pre-paid in advance.
The reason behind this is so the family can be buried in tombs close to each other, plus it’s cheaper to buy the tomb early.
Below I’m going to run through the full costs incurred for a 2018 Catholic Funeral with a tomb burial in Canada.
Remember that costs vary across Canada, so it’s best to find out for yourself, as I mentioned above.
What Is A Mausoleum?
A mausoleum is generally a stately building with indoor and outdoor tombs where bodies are laid to rest.
Who embalms the deceased body?
A mortician, also known as an embalmer or undertaker, is the person who prepares the body for visitation, internment, and funerals.
This includes everything from bathing to dressing the deceased to cosmetic enhancements and embalming the body.
Services- Staff, Facilities and Vehicles
- Professional services $545.00
- Documentation- permits, forms, etc. $230.00
- Initial transfer/transport remains – (25km) $150.00
- Basic staff services Co-ordinating activities $275.00
- Facilities Basic Fee $275.00
- Staff- Ceremony on or offsite $535.00
- Facilities- Ceremony Extra Staff Offsite $210.00
- Staff- Initial Visiting $290.00
- Embalming of Remains $275.00
- Other Body Preparation $110.00
- Prepare Embalm and Shelter $150.00
- Initial Visitation Facilities $275.00
- Facilities- Tribute Video Equipment $125.00
- Facilities – Reception Hall $395.00
- Luncheon 50 people $1225.00
- Utility /General duty $105.00
- Funeral Coach/Hearse $290.00
- Clergy/Lead Car $140.00
- Service $115.00
- Posting to the funeral home website- no charge
Total Costs $5715.00
Supplies and Other Services
- Casket: $2350.00
- Tribute Supplies- Standard Set $395.00
Total Supplies and Other Services: $2745.00
Disbursements (HST Included)
- Newspaper Advertisements $230.90
- Clergy $100.00
- Organist $150.00
- Registration of Death (City of … $25.00
- Total Disbursements $505.90
- Funeral Home Services and Supplies $8460.00
- Disbursements (applicable taxes included( $505.90
- Tax HST $1099.80
Total Price $10,065.70
Cemetary Costs and Mausoleum Burial
- Crypt/Mausoleum $12,000 (Indoor)
- Adult Entombment $875.00
- Single Bronze Lettering Package $5350.00
- Porcelain Photo 9x 12 $ 995.00
- Vase and Light Combo Bronze $1095.00
- Taxes 13% $967.20
Total Cost Of Cemetary Burial $21,282.20
Flowers For Funeral Costs
The flowers were expensive for one massive bouquet on a stand next to the casket.
For the top of the casket, we opted for a half spray of flower arrangement as only half would be open for viewing.
However, these are also called casket covers, and for a closed casket, you would opt for a full casket spray arrangement.
Funeral Flowers Cost $535.09, taxes included for a half spread and flower bouquet stand.
Final Cost For A Catholic Funeral with a Mausoleum Burial
The final cost for the entire funeral came to a whopping $32,022.99.
Although it may seem like quite a bit, this was the last dying wish of the deceased, and he had the money set aside to pay for the funeral costs.
We don’t know when or where our exit from this earth will be.
What we can do is prepare in advance for all the things that will make life easier for those taking care of the affairs once you are gone.
Funeral costs may seem like they cost quite a bit but remember that you have options that range from a basic cremation to the pricey traditional funeral.
Discussion: Have you estimated the funeral costs for yourself? Have you pre-paid for your funeral? I’d love to read about your experiences below.
Note: None of these links are affiliate links, so I am not being paid for my review of their services or website.