In 2017 the life expectancy for the total Canadian population is projected to be 79 years for men and 83 years for women. Of course, some people will die younger and others will live into their 90s and beyond. However long you live, eventually your funeral expenses and other debts must be paid for before your executor can distribute your estate to beneficiaries.
How much does a funeral cost?
Canadian Funerals Online (CFO) notes that historically the funeral industry has not openly disclosed funeral prices, and many funeral home websites do not even publish a price list. However, these days you can find more funeral homes providing open disclosure of the cost of various funeral packages. Nevertheless, the cost of a funeral can still vary significantly depending on where you live and which funeral services provider you use.
There are two corporate funeral companies operating in Canada – Service Corporation International [Branded as Dignity Memorial] and Arbor Memorial. Although not a rule, CFO reports that typically corporate funeral homes can be more expensive than family-owned funeral homes and that in the funeral industry, economies of scale do not always operate in favour of consumers.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you investigate prices from more than one funeral home. Of course, this may not be practical or possible in the stressful period following the death of a loved one.
In a recent article on lowestrates.ca, Rebecca Lee discussed how much it costs to die in Canada. She reported that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the dozens of after-death decisions you’ll have to make. There’s also no one-size-fits-all price tag.
In an interview with Lee, Founder and CEO of Basic Funerals, Eric Vandermeersch, said that after-death costs can be as low as $1,500 or as high as $20,000. And while he pegged the average overall cost at $8,500, he admitted that the number varies wildly based on each person’s preferences, values, and culture.
“It’s like saying I want to buy a car, what should I budget for.” Vandermeersch explained. “There are a lot of options. There are people looking for just the basics and there are people looking for more traditional ceremonies.”
Lee enumerated some of the after-death arrangements you or your family will have to decide on. Some are required and others are mandatory. All costs are approximate and will vary based on city, province, and personal preference.
- Death certificate ($15-$22) and registration (about $55).
- Transfer services ($100+).
- Shroud, casket, or urn ($0-$3,000+).
- Body preparation ($125-$525)..
- Formal ceremonies (visitation, memorial, funeral) plus staffing fees ($2,000 and beyond).
- Burial plots and niches ($1,000 and beyond).
- Burial or cremation services ($1,000 and beyond).
Burial vs. Cremation
According to CFO, as a very general guide a cremation is likely to cost a quarter of the cost of a burial. A simple, direct cremation in Canada can start at around $600, whereas a cremation with a service, and extra disbursements (obituary notice, viewing, funeral flowers, etc), may cost in the region of $4,500. As mentioned above, cremation service costs will vary depending upon your province and area. The cremation rate in Canada is at 65% making cremation by far the popular choice for families today.
Direct cremation is becoming more popular. A direct cremation is when the deceased is simply collected from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory for an immediate cremation. No service is conducted prior to the cremation [although sometimes a brief family viewing is conducted].
The cremated remains are returned to the family within a few days in a basic urn. This is the least expensive means by which to conduct a funeral. It can even be arranged online today, without the need to visit a funeral home. Family can then arrange their own memorial at a later date at a place that suit the family. This also puts the family in control of the memorial process, instead of paying a funeral home for this service.
CPP Death Benefit
The Canada Pension Plan death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment to your estate that can help to pay for funeral costs. The amount of the death benefit depends on how much and for how long you contributed to the CPP. In January 2016, the average death benefit paid was $2,296.85 and the maximum was $2,500.
To calculate the amount of the death benefit, Service Canada first calculates the amount that the CPP retirement pension is or would have been if the deceased was age 65 at the time of death. The death benefit is equal to six months’ worth of this calculated retirement pension up to a maximum of $2,500.
If an estate exists, the executor named in the will or the administrator named by the Court to administer the estate applies for the death benefit. The executor should apply for the benefit within 60 days of the date of death.
If no estate exists or if the executor has not applied for the death benefit, payment may be made to other persons who apply for the benefit in the following order of priority:
- The person or institution that has paid for or that is responsible for paying for the funeral expenses of the deceased.
- The surviving spouse or common-law partner of the deceased.
- The next-of-kin of the deceased.
The death benefit is equal to six months’ worth of this calculated retirement pension up to a maximum of $2,500.
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|Written by Sheryl Smolkin|
|Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.|