Notice to the Consumer: Funeral homes must tell you about ads in your loved one’s obituaries posted on their websites

Families have a right to know whether an advertisement will appear in their loved one’s obituary or death notice on a funeral home’s website.

This is a legal requirement as part of funeral services contracts.

The Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) has recently reminded funeral directors and other professionals licensed by the government delegated authority about this to ensure families are informed.

It’s a matter that has come to the BAO’s attention in recent weeks. There are obituaries on some funeral home websites in which ads for a “Plant A Tree” memorial tribute are included.

“It would be unethical not to inform families in advance of signing a funeral services contract. Families can decide once they are informed,” says Carey Smith, CEO/Registrar of the BAO.

“Such disclosure is legally required. But more than this, funeral directors should also tell the consumer directly if advertisements of any kind will appear in their online or printed obituary or death notice. People grieving the loss of a loved one may not read every part of their contract. So, telling them upfront is the right thing to do,” Smith says.

Caring professionals

“Caring professionals make up the bereavement sector. They follow the law, directives and demonstrate their commitment to grieving families every day – and have continued to do that admirably throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Smith adds.

“We haven’t received any consumer complaints about this as of yet. But, the CBC tells us that there is at least one family who were not informed of an advertisement for a “Plant A Tree” tribute included in their loved one’s obituary on the funeral home’s website. We are issuing this Notice to the Consumer to bring the matter to the attention of families and licensees of the BAO.”

Consumer protection and disclosure are at the core of the purpose of funeral services contracts, which are mandated by law. Each contract with consumers must be in plain language, include an adequate description of supplies purchased, and whether consideration and benefits are due to the operator or another person. 

If you have had an unwanted advertisement placed in your loved one’s obituary or death notice on a funeral establishment website, please tell us at the BAO on this web page.

About The BAO

The Bereavement Authority of Ontario is a government delegated authority administering provisions of the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002 (FBCSA) on behalf of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. Responsible for protection of the public interest, the BAO regulates and supports licensed: funeral establishment operators, directors and preplanners; cemetery, crematorium and alternative disposition operators; transfer service operators; and bereavement sector sales representatives across Ontario. The BAO is wholly funded by licensee fees (not tax dollars).