Three Tips to Reduce Funeral Costs

Cathy Duval |

Three Tips to Reduce Funeral Costs

Funeral costs are an inevitable expense that you will one day have to face. Even if some of these choices are difficult to make, it is better to make them before your death to avoid leaving your loved ones to foot the bill.

According to the most recent data from the Corporation des thanatologues du Québec (CTQ), the average cost in Quebec of a complete memorial service and body disposal is $5,500. This amount may seem high, but it’s important to note that it includes a complete funeral service, with the transportation and handling of the deceased’s body with respect to laws. This price also includes administrative fees for managing government records, bereavement support, open casket, memorial service, cremation and burial in a columbarium or a cemetery.

1. Research funeral costs

Annie Saint-Pierre, General Director of the Corporation des thanatologues du Québec (CTQ), says that price should be the furthest thing from your mind after a death. “Opting for a service that respects your values and a funeral business that works with dignity and professionalism—both with the deceased and those who remain—is the first instinct and, for many families in Quebec, a priority,” adds Saint-Pierre.

You should also know that costs can vary from one region to the next. Therefore, burial costs in a cemetery or a columbarium will not be the same in Rimouski as in Montreal. The majority of cemeteries are managed by parishes and not by funeral businesses.

The option to preserve ashes in a columbarium, in a funeral home, is becoming more and more popular with families because of its easy access in both summer and winter. Again, costs vary depending on where the urn is kept.

Saint-Pierre also emphasizes that funeral service businesses must respect obligations and laws that govern their field. This means there are basic costs that have no wiggle room. These costs include transportation and management of the remains, the services of a family advisor for administration, registration with the Direction de l’état civil and request for the death benefit in Quebec or Canada, funeral direction costs and many others. Again, costs will not be the same from one region to the next.

To avoid additional charges, you can carry out estate settlement tasks yourself without the help of a notary. You can also choose a casket or urn yourself and decide on the type of ceremony and burial. But for those who are tempted to save money, Annie Saint-Pierre reminds us that the loss of a loved one is an extremely emotional time. “It may be difficult to be rational and make choices according to your needs in this emotional context,” says Saint-Pierre.

2. Make pre-arrangements  

From a planning perspective, and to ensure your family’s financial future, Saint-Pierre estimates that pre-arranged contracts are the best way to get some peace of mind, planning the management of these difficult moments in a completely different context than grief.

With this step, not only can you predict the costs, but you can also create a memorial service that suits you. Your decisions will surely be more rational if you plan ahead for your funeral arrangements, since you will be less overwhelmed with emotions than your loved ones will be at the time of your death. Additionally, these contracts are governed by laws and your money is protected in a trust. “The purpose of a pre-arranged funeral is to set a price today for later,” says Saint-Pierre.

3. Use the $2,500 death benefit

You may want to reduce costs upon your death, but you should know this will have an influence on the grieving process. Avoiding planning your funeral because of concerns about money sometimes means you’re avoiding grief, and this could catch up with you someday.

Trends have evolved, and the types of services offered are becoming more and more varied, such as tributes to life, private memorials or intimate moments around the deceased. No matter what your choice, thanatologists recommend taking the time to mark the end of a loved one’s life to better accept their passing.

Retraite Québec grants $2,500 toward the death of each worker who has contributed to their retirement plan for at least five years. This amount will help you pay for funeral expenses. However, the $2,500 benefit amount has not been indexed or reviewed for 20 years and is taxable to the estate.

In short, preparing your funeral arrangements while you are still alive is the best way to predict costs and consequences.