Common Questions

Arrangements

Q. Who is responsible for final arrangements?
A. Only certain people have the legal authority to decide what will happen to the body of the deceased person. In order of priority, they are:
  • an estate trustee, sometimes referred to as executor or executrix (the person named in the deceased person’s will or the person appointed by the court to administer the estate)
  • a spouse
  • adult children
  • parents of the deceased
Q. What is the difference between a Proof of Death and a Death Certificate?
A. A Proof of Death is issued by the licensed funeral establishment or transfer service. It contains information about the deceased which is provided by the family. In some instances a Proof of Death is accepted for estate settlement purposes.
A Death Certificate is an official document issued by the Office of the Registrar General. It contains information from the official death registration. For estate matters where a Proof of Death is not accepted, a Death Certificate will be required.
Q. How do I obtain a government issued Death Certificate?
A. To obtain a government issued Death Certificate, contact Service Ontario. Applications are accepted in person, by mail or by using their online form.
Q. Is it necessary to retain the services of a licensed funeral director or transfer service operator for all deaths?
A. No. It is possible to bury a deceased family member provided all relevant legislation is complied with. A family member of the deceased can arrange funeral services without a license if they are not being paid. You must first register the death with the local municipality. The death must be registered before a burial permit can be issued and a burial permit is needed for a cremation or burial.If you are going to move a body out of Ontario, you should speak to a funeral home or transfer service.
Q. Can I purchase supplies from businesses that are not licensed?
A. You can buy supplies like caskets, monuments and markers from businesses that are not licensed. Before buying, be sure to check with the funeral establishment operator, transfer service operator, cemetery operator or crematorium operator to confirm that they will accept the items. For example, not all caskets can be used for cremations, so make sure to check with your cremation service provider before you make a purchase.
Q. Am I required to bury a body with a casket?
A. Some cemeteries will let you bury a body without a casket (e.g., in a shroud). It will depend on the cemetery’s by-laws.
Q. Must a casket be placed in an outside container for burial?
A. Ontario laws do not require a casket be placed in an outside container for burial. Local customs however vary throughout the province with some cemeteries having by-laws that require use of outside containers for interment.
For additional information related to cemetery requirements in Ontario please contact the Bereavement Authority of Ontario at TEL: (647) 483-2645 or (844) 493-6356.
Q. Are there additional sources of information available to provide support when someone dies?
A. Yes. For additional information related to what to do when someone dies, or support services that may be available please visit the Ontario government website or the Federal government website.

Embalming

Q. What is embalming?
A. In Ontario, there is no requirement to embalm a body. The decision to embalm is a choice. A consumer may choose to have the body washed and dressed without embalming. However, embalming may be recommended to preserve a body between the time of death and time of visitation, burial or cremation.
Q. Is embalming required in Ontario?
A. In Ontario, there is no requirement to embalm a body. The decision to embalm is a choice. A consumer may choose to have the body washed and dressed without embalming. However, embalming may be recommended to preserve a body between the time of death and time of visitation, burial or cremation.
Q. Is embalming required if a deceased person is being transported to another country for funeral, burial or cremation?
A. If a deceased person is being transported to another country for funeral, burial or cremation, then embalming and a very tightly sealed casket or container may be required by the receiving country or the company transporting the body, such as an airline. Ask your funeral establishment or transfer service for more information.

Costs

Q. How much does a funeral cost?
A. Costs for a funeral depend entirely upon the goods and services selected by the consumer. All licensed funeral establishments and transfer services are required by law to ensure price lists are available to the public without cost or obligation. If you are purchasing a casket from a licensed service provider, the provider must offer a range of caskets in different price ranges for you to choose from.
Q. What are cash disbursements?
A. Cash disbursements are payments made by the licensed funeral establishment or transfer service operator on behalf of the consumer. A cash disbursement may include items such as newspaper notices, clergy honoraria, or flowers. Disbursements are charged at actual cost. If they appear on the contract, all cash disbursements must be itemized and included in the total price.
Q. When will the cost of selected goods and services be confirmed?
A. The cost of selected goods and services will be confirmed when the arrangements are agreed upon. The consumer must be provided with a written contract including the total price of the goods and services selected and an estimated cost of any disbursements. The contract must be signed by the consumer and the licensee making the arrangements on behalf of the licensed funeral establishment or transfer service.
Q. What if the consumer cannot pay for the cost of the funeral?
A. Consumers may apply for financial assistance through the local municipality to cover costs for funeral or transfer services or for cremation or burial. Eligibility for financial assistance should be confirmed prior to signing a contract with a licensed funeral establishment or transfer service. In most cases, the municipality will limit choices associated with the selection of a casket, urn or grave, and the services requested
Q. What benefits are available through the Canada Pension Plan?
A. The Canada Pension Plan provides benefits when a contributor dies. For more information, please visit Service Canada website.

Preneed Arrangements

Q. Can funeral services be prearranged?
A. Yes, funeral services may be prearranged through a licensed funeral director or funeral preplanner at a funeral establishment or transfer service. Consumers may choose to prepay for service prior to the time of need.
Q. Is payment for a preneed arrangement at a funeral establishment or transfer service required in advance?
A. No, the decision to pay for preneed arrangements in advance is a choice. Consumers have the option of simply pre-arranging services or supplies without providing payment. Some licensed funeral establishments and transfer services may keep a record of the arrangements without cost. To confirm availability of this option, please contact a licensed funeral establishment or transfer service directly.
Q. Why is the cost of my prepaid funeral so much higher when I choose to pay over time?
A. Generally when paying over time for an insurance policy to fund the prepaid contract, the cost of insurance and inflation are built into the time payments (premiums). As a result, the actual amount paid will exceed the face value of the original contract.
Q. What is a prepaid service?
A. A prepaid service allows for the prearrangement and prepayment of services and supplies by means of a contract between the consumer and the licensed funeral establishment or transfer service.
Q. What happens to money that is paid in advance for a preneed arrangement?
A. Money that is paid in advance for a preneed arrangement is held in trust for the consumer in one of two ways; either at a bank, trust company, credit union, or with an independent trustee or with the purchase of an insurance product. For a full explanation of the advantages and disadvantages associated with either a trust or insurance product, please contact a licensed funeral establishment or transfer service.
Q. Is the price of a prepaid service guaranteed?
A. Prior to July 1, 2012, licensed funeral establishments and transfer services were not required to guarantee prepaid services. As a purchaser, it is important to ensure that the contract clearly states whether or not the price will be guaranteed. All prepaid contracts entered into on or after July 1, 2012 must be guaranteed.
Q. How does a prepaid service guarantee work?
A. When a death occurs, the licensed funeral director or transfer service will calculate the cost based on current prices. If the principal plus interest or insurance death benefit is less than the cost of services, no additional money is owed.
Q. What happens if there is an excess of funds after a guaranteed prepaid funeral has been provided?
A. If a contract was prepaid after June 1, 1990, the balance of the prepayment funds (if any) that are in excess of the cost to deliver the services and supplies contracted for, must be refunded. If a contract was prepaid prior to June 1, 1990, excess funds (if any) may be refunded at the discretion of the licensed funeral establishment or transfer service.
Q. How does a prepaid service guarantee work?
A. When a death occurs, the licensed funeral director or transfer service will calculate the cost based on current prices. If the principal plus interest or insurance death benefit is less than the cost of services, no additional money is owed.
Prepaid funds paid for an insurance contract are paid directly to the insurance company and are protected under the Insurance Act.
Q. Are fees paid refundable after a prepaid contract has been signed?
A. The terms for cancellation differ depending upon whether the contract is a trust contract or an insurance contract. The amount refunded will depend the terms of the signed contract and when the decision is made to cancel the contract.
Type of Prepaid ContractCancelled within 30 daysCancelled After 30 days
Trust ContractFull RefundRefund of principal plus interest less 10% to a maximum of $350
Insurance ContractFull RefundRefunds will vary depending on the length of time the contract was in force and the payment plan selected.
Q. Is a funeral establishment or transfer service obligated to provide a price list?
A. Yes, all licensed funeral establishments and transfer services are required by law to provide a price list upon request without cost or obligation. Consumers are encouraged to compare prices and services from several establishments prior to making an informed decision.
Q. Is it important to have a will?
A. To learn about wills, estates and estate planning, please visit the Ontario government website and follow the links to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Cremation

Q. What is cremation?
A. Cremation is a process where fire reduces the body to a residue.
Q. Is a casket required by law for cremation?
A. A casket is not required by law for cremation however if a casket is not used, the crematoria may require that the body be enclosed in rigid container of combustible material. Some service providers will allow you to provide your own container for a cremation as long as it’s safe and meets the requirements of the cemetery or crematorium operator.
Q. What can be done with the cremated remains?
A. In Ontario you may:
  • retain cremated remains of family members
  • buy rights to bury or scatter the cremated remains in a registered cemetery
  • buy rights to place the cremated remains in a niche within a columbarium in a registered cemetery. (A columbarium is an above-ground structure that contains a number of niches. Placing the cremated remains in a niche is an interment, meaning a burial)
  • scatter cremated remains on private property with the consent of the land owner (if a land owner wants to allow repeated scatterings to take place on a specific piece of his or her property, he or she must establish that land as a cemetery and have a licensed cemetery operator for the cemetery)
  • sign a contract with the licensed operator of a cemetery, crematorium, funeral home or transfer service to scatter the cremated remains on your behalf
  • scatter cremated remains on Crown land, including land covered by water, if it’s unoccupied (e.g., provincial park, conservation reserve, Great Lakes) and there are no signs or postings that prohibit scattering
  • scatter cremated remains on municipally-owned lands (contact the municipality to check if there are by-laws that prohibit scattering in certain areas such as municipal parks)
  • transport cremated remains out of Ontario
Q. Is the consumer obligated to purchase an urn?
A. No. The cremated remains may be returned to the consumer in a small plastic box.

Funeral Alternatives

Q. What other options are available, beyond the traditional funeral?
A. All licensed funeral establishments in Ontario must offer an inexpensive service otherwise referred to as a 'direct disposition'.
Licensed transfer service operators may only offer a 'direct disposition' option however they are not permitted to arrange or provide funeral services.
Q. What is a direct disposition?
A. A direct disposition includes the transfer of the deceased from the place of death, the placement of the body in a casket, the delivery of the body to the cemetery or crematorium and the filing of required documentation. A direct disposition does not include an option for a visitation or service.
Q. Does direct disposition mean that the body must be cremated?
A. No, a direct disposition may involve either cremation or earth burial.

Miscellaneous

Q. What steps need to be taken to donate your body or organs to medical science?
A. To learn more about donating your body or organs to medical science please visit the Trillium Gift of Life Network website.
Q. Can I bury my pet in a cemetery?
A. By law, you cannot bury your pet in a cemetery designated for people. In Ontario, you can bury your pet:
  • in a property you own
  • in an area that has been set aside exclusively for the burial of pets (also called a pet cemetery)
Some crematoriums will cremate animals. You can keep or scatter the ashes.

Questions? Call us at 844.493.6356 or use our automated contact form.