funeral ExpensesPre-planning Funeral Arrangements

I found it a little distracting to write this chapter. My mind constantly returned to
thinking of my mother and father and how someday I will be faced with their death. I am
writing this as a person who has only experienced death of acquaintances and a couple of
friends. In reality, whereas all other sections of this book were designed to help our
parents, this section is really meant to help us and the rest of our family. In other words,
one of the hardest things we can do is say goodbye to a loved one. I would rather not
want to deal with too many arrangements and administrative details while I am mourning
and reflecting on the life of the person I love and just lost.
I recommend a 5 point plan for preparing for death.
1 Organize vital statistics and necessary documents
2 Consider organ donations
3 Prepare a death notification list
4 Funeral arrangements
5 Notifications
Organize vital statistics and necessary documents
One of the common themes throughout the book has been to ensure you and your parents
have gathered all the important documentation and store them in locations that are both
known and easily accessible to all relevant family and professional advisors. During your
parents’ lifetime, this is their personal information and they may not want too much
assistance for the sake of privacy. So please keep this in mind. You can help them by
providing checklists from this book and encouraging them as they move through the
process. Appendix ___ is a detailed list of items I feel are necessary to store in a central
depository of information.
Sometimes, parents have a difficulty in tracking down documents. In her book, “The
Complete Eldercare Planner”, American Joy Loverde exhibited excellent detective traits
with her recommended strategies for finding information or missing documents. Her
detective work is premised on the children searching for information after the parents’
death but is easily applicable to helping our parents in the planning process as well while
they are alive and well.
1 Review your parent’s personal address book for important names and numbers
2 Review their cheque and bank account books for account numbers and names of
banks and other financial institutions they have dealt with.
3 Review their bill paying history for payment plans.
4 Call each credit card company and bank for any insurance policies your parents
may have taken for those specific loans.
5 Search their storage and filling areas for important papers
6 Review the contents of any home safe or bank safety deposit box. Sometimes,
banks, in the absence of your parents or a key, will refuse to open a safety deposit
box. Simply find out what legal
7 Contact your parents past and present employers about pension plans, group
insurance life coverage, union plans and any other benefits that may have existed
as a result of employment.
8 If you cannot find a will, other then ransacking your parent’s home, your main
hope is to talk to all the lawyers your parents have dealt with in the past. Next,
you could call the local surrogate court to see if your parents ever registered a will
with them. This hardly ever is the case so the chances are slim. Finally, find a
lawyer who will place an advertisement in the provincial legal newspaper. In
Ontario, the “Ontario Report” will advertise for missing wills.
9 If you are not sure if your parents had life insurance, you can contact The
Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (CAIFA) to assist you.
Fortunately, in Canada, over 90% of life insurance is underwritten by the top 10
insurance companies. Canada Life, Manulife, London, Great West and Sun are to
name but five. The chances are excellent that you will find a missing policy with
one of them.

More complex issues can be handled by contacting us and setting up a consultation with Louis Sapi 905-678-2740
Again, it is critical to have at least have your parents start the process of gathering
information. It makes the surviving parent and your lives considerably easier at a time
when you need it the most.
At the very least, a funeral director will require the following information:
Name, address, birth date, and birth place
Social insurance number
Full name of the spouse and/or maiden name of the wife even if widowed or
Most recent occupation
Fathers name and birthplace
Mothers maiden name and birthplace
Names and addresses of executor, legal representative and next-of-kin.
Consider Organ donation
Ok, it’s commercial time. I am a big believer in organ donation – subject of course to
personal or religious beliefs. I find it difficult to read articles about someone, particularly
a young child, who is close to death because they cannot find a compatible organ. It is
my experience that when asked, most people have little hesitation to donate organs. So
please discuss it with your parents and if they agree then ensure they leave appropriate
instructions. It could be the single greatest gift they ever give. I would caution that this
is a very personal decision. If you perceive reluctance, I would not pursue the topic
again. We must always respect others feelings and beliefs.
Prepare a death Notification list
Upon the death of a parent, one of the responsibilities we have is to contact family
members, friends, co-workers and others. This is a draining experience and is truly
helped if you have a reasonably complete list of who to call in the first place. Here you
could have your parents list out names, addresses and phone numbers and who they are to
your parents. Hopefully they can help keep their personal phone book up-to-date and                                                                                        complete so that you can access it in times of need. I must say that it is awkward to bring
these topics up without depressing or upsetting your parents. After her first read of this
section, Lucy, my editor, thought I was a little too “cold and administrative” in my tone.
She was right and it shows how sometimes we forget that our parents may hear
something different from what we think we are saying. “Mom, can you pass the salt and
by the way, I need an updated list of all your friends so that I don’t have to work too hard
finding them when you die.” Get the point.
My mom has a personal phone book but no one can read her half-Italian, half pseudo-
English writing anyway. Dad doesn’t have a phone book or cares. His perspective is “If
I go people will find out anyway so don’t worry about it”. I hope they read this book.

Funeral Arrangements
One of the objectives of this chapter is to provide an outline for helping prearrange the
inevitable in order to add piece of mind to both our parents and us. Of course, not
everyone is comfortable with this and their feelings should be respected first and
foremost. After all, the majority of people do not plan their funerals because of the
discomfort or even distaste for it. However, from a purely academic (which I appreciate
can be irrelevant at times) perspective, prearranging funeral plans can be a very sensible
part of estate planning. It allows us to make unhurried decisions. It allows us to shop
around and find the best alternatives satisfying our parents’ wishes. It also allows us to
better understand all the costs involved and how our parents may want to alter plans as a
result of costs. This preparation also allows our parents to clearly show what they want
and thus take the guesswork out of the situation.
The best way to begin the process is to ask your parents if they would like to contact a
funeral director and make an appointment. There are many areas to plan for as shown on
Appendix ___. It would be helpful if your parents would leave written instructions with
the funeral directors as well as family, clergy and even the executor of their will.
With respect to payment, your parents have the option of prepaying or not. If they decide
to prepay their funds are secure. The Funeral Directors’ and Establishments Act requires
that any deposit for prepaid funerals are deposited into a trust account with a bank or like
institution until the services are required. At your parents’ request, these funds can be
withdrawn and returned to them, together with interest but less an administration fee as
set in law. I believe these fees can vary, so it would be wise to ask about them before
doing business. These funds are further protected by a compensation fund established by
the provincial government.
Your parents can also buy a life insurance policy to fund the funeral. Simply make sure
what costs the policy will cover and what is your parents’ cost are, whether there are any
cancellation rights and whether there is inflation protection.
Each province should have a funeral association that can provide you with information
free of charge.

After the funeral services and the legal and estate issues are being handled, there may be
a number of other easily forgotten “loose ends” to deal with. If it was the last surviving
parent that passed away then appendix ___ provides a checklist of items that must be
dealt with.

More complex issues can be handled by contacting us and setting up a consultation with Louis Sapi 905-678-2740