Pre-planning funeral is a kindness
CHRIS IBBOTSON firstname.lastname@example.org @chronicleherald
Dear Money Lady, Do you think it’s a good idea to pre-plan your funeral? – Laura Dear Laura, Absolutely. Many Canadians don’t want to think about funerals. However, not having a plan in place creates significant costs at a time when your family is dealing with emotional stress. There have been many changes to the industry due to COVID-19, however, the costs have not. In some provinces, funeral costs are increasing substantially. When my father died at 48, my mother was not prepared to deal with these expenses. The stress of choosing the casket, flowers, burial plot, headstone and all the other details was daunting. Although the funeral staff were very supportive and kind, I couldn’t help thinking that they encouraged my mother to spend more: a better casket, nicer fabric to line the casket, upgraded marble on the burial vault. Having gone through this a couple of times in the last 30 years, I can say unequivocally that you should plan for your funeral as part of your retirement strategy. This will give you peace of mind and remove the burden from those you love. The average funeral cost in Canada ranges from $10,000 to $25,000 (costs will vary in each province and territory). There are many elements, such as a casket: $300 to $14,000; cemetery plots: $1,500 to $12,000; funeral services: $2,800 to $4,500; and flowers, obituary notices, musicians, government taxes and fees: $1,500 to $6,000. When you pre-plan your funeral, you will make all the necessary arrangements ahead of time, which usually means you pre-pay. The benefit is that you ultimately guarantee to have your say as to what you want. You can haggle a little on price and emotional upselling is removed. Many funeral homes offer discounts if you pre-pay, with some offering monthly payment plans. You can also choose to buy funeral insurance with policies covering the costs of burial and the service. Funeral insurance can be purchased at any age and usually start as low as $2,500 and go up to $25,000 for coverage. If you choose to pre-pay for funeral arrangements, make sure you inform your family and have all the paperwork and receipts available so your loved ones know how to handle this responsibility. Cremation, of course, is the least expensive, with costs averaging from $1,500 to $5,000. The costs start escalating if you arrange for formal visitation, urns, flowers and obituary notices. The only other method to consider when you die would be to donate your body to science or a body farm. There are 23 medical schools in Canada that will accept your body as a gift. They will handle the transfer to the medical facility and cremation after use. The only reason they may not accept a gift would be if an autopsy was conducted, embalming or amputation occurred, or if you had certain infectious diseases before you died. It is best to check online to find out more, since each province is different. Whatever you choose, try to make this part of your planning. I know this may be difficult to think about. However, choosing what you want at the end of your life is your right. Good luck and best wishes. Christine Ibbotson is author of How to Retire Debt Free & Wealthy and Don’t Panic – How to Manage your Finances and Financial Anxieties During and After the Coronavirus. If you have a money question, visit askthemoneylady.ca, and check out the Money Lady’s podcast at SaltWire.com.