What You Should Know About
Arranging a Funeral in British Columbia
When a death occurs the process
of making the funeral arrangements can be daunting, especially for the
recently bereaved. If the death was sudden and/or unexpected, it
can make the whole process even more stressful.
If it is your first time
arranging a funeral you can be overwhelmed by where to start and all the
things that need consideration. And add to this the fact that the
‘death industry’ is big business, and many funeral professionals are also
slick sales professionals, this can all lead to what is known as a “distressed
To try and guide you through
this difficult process, we have outlined a few important aspects of arranging
a funeral in British Columbia that may help you.
What Regulations Govern Disposition
arrangements in BC?
A funeral director should receive
written authorization to perform disposition services. Telephone
consent can initiate a funeral home to begin their professional service,
but formal written consent must be given before a cremation or burial can
What Can I Expect in Funeral
Costs in BC?
A funeral can be a significant
expense, depending on what kind of service you opt for. You can spend
anything between $1,000 to $12,000. The funeral director will charge
a ‘professional service fee’ that usually covers his/her basic services
to transport the deceased, obtain the medical certificate of death, register
the death and complete all necessary government forms.
Depending on whether you
opt for a burial or cremation, you may have additional costs for such things
as embalming, a casket and/or an urn and cemetery burial plot. Other indirect
costs can be things like the services of an officiant, clergy and organist,
obituary notices and flowers. A funeral home MUST provide you with
a ‘General Price List’ that specifically itemizes their charges. A funeral
home cannot refuse to accept funeral merchandise (such as a casket) that
you have purchased from another source.
Being a “distressed purchase”
many people just turn to the first funeral home they know of, or one that
family and friends recommend. In many cases this can be a sound decision,
but it IS important to shop around to ensure you are getting equitable
‘value for money’. It is common to find that the different funeral
homes in an area of BC will all charge differing rates for the same service
– therefore you should compare funeral costs. Corporate-owned funeral
businesses such as Dignity and Arbor Memorial typically charge more.
Canadian Funerals Online
provides a FREE directory of all 120+ funeral homes in British Columbia,
and we work with DFS Memorials of Canada, which is a national network of
family-owned funeral homes that guarantee a low-cost funeral serving their
local communities. The DFS Memorials Provider for British Columbia
offers a simple, direct cremation for just under $1,000.
Arranging a Cremation in BC
Cremation is popular across
Canada compared to the whole of North America, and British Columbia rates
as the province with the highest cremation rate in Canada at around 80%.
At least 48 hours must elapse
after time of death before a cremation in BC can be carried out, unless
specifically ordered by a medical health officer under the Public Health
Does the Deceased Have to be
No, embalming is not required
by BC law. It is often suggested by funeral directors if there is
a delay between the time of death and the disposition, and/or a viewing
How Do I Obtain a Death Certificate
Once you have appointed a funeral
director they will ordinarily coordinate the necessary documentation such
as the medical certificate of death and the death certificate. The
attending medical physician is responsible for completing the medical certificate
of death within 48 hours, this needs to be submitted to apply for a ‘Death
Certificate’. The BC Vital Statistics Agency issue death certificates
and currently charge $27.00 per certificate. Additional copies may
be required if you need to send them to various institutions and organizations.
Preplanning a funeral in BC
To ensure wishes are met, and
relieve family of the emotional and financial burden of a funeral, you
can preplan a funeral in BC. Pre-financing a funeral can be done
in installments or in a lump sum payment. Funeral homes who offer
a preplanning service must have licensed, pre-need qualified staff, and
all funds are usually held in trust.
Although preplanning can
be a great way to have peace of mind about end-of-life decisions, it is
vital that your funeral plan is discussed with family, and safely lodged
with your personal papers. Too often family have already coordinated
the funeral of a deceased parent to later find out that they had a funeral
plan and fund held in trust.
What death benefits can be claimed
The Ministry of Housing and
Social Development offer a funeral supplement to contribute towards the
cost of a person who dies in BC if the family has no immediate funds to
meet these costs. This supplement is available under the Employment
and Assistance Regulation. The Crime Assistance Program may award
up to $5,000 towards the funeral expenses of a victim of crime. Canadian
Forces member and veterans are entitled to benefits related to funeral
expenses. For serving members this can be anything up to $12,700.
What To Do If a Loved One Dies
Outside of British Columbia
It can be especially distressing
if your loved one dies away from home, but be assured there are funeral
professionals that specialize in transporting human remains, and can bring
your loved one home to you. Transporting a human body can be costly,
and this will depend upon the funeral home’s professional service charge
for managing the shipping, plus the shipping costs. It can typically
amount to around $3,500 - $5,000. This tends to be why many people
consider a cremation at the place of death and then ship the cremated remains
back to BC.
Air Canada do offer a specialized
funeral shipping service ‘AC Compassion’. For more information visit
our page on Air
Transportation of Human Remains.
Can you donate a body to science
Yes, the University of British
Columbia does have a Body Donation to Science Program (for those wishing
make an anatomical gift. Donating your body to science can be a wonderful
way to leave a lasting legacy to future generations.
A consent form needs to be
lodged with the University, this can be done prior to death or at the time
of death. They will then collect the deceased from the place of death,
arrange the anatomical donation, cremation of the remains and a basic urn.
Next of kin will be contacted to collect the remains once the body donation
process has been completed. This can be anything from a few weeks
up to three years. All costs are covered by the University, but additional
costs for transportation to the University may be incurred for those outside
of the Greater Vancouver area.
There is no upper-age limit
for body donations and some medical conditions may prevent the acceptance
of a body for the program.
For more information contact
the UBC Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences - call (604)
822-2578 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to go if you have a complaint
about a funeral home in BC
Hopefully it won’t happen, but
if for any reason you should have a complaint about services from a funeral
director, you should try and resolve it directly with the funeral firm
in the first instance. If you still have a grievance you could take
it up with the Funeral Service Association of British Columbia – the association
upholds the ethics and standards of funeral professionals in BC.
Suite 211, 2187 Oak Bay
Ave, Victoria, BC. V8R 1G1
Consumer Protection BC is
also a not-for-profit organization that protects consumers in BC.
They can be mailed at: PO Box 9244 Victoria BC V8W 9J2
Funeral Flowers - Funeral Homes
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Celebration of Life - Choosing
a funeral home - Contacting
the Funeral Home - Pre-planning
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