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Dealing with a Funeral Home: A Guide to Funeral Contracts and Consumer Rights

Anita Chauhan
Anita Chauhan
September 15th 2022 - 6 minute read
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We’re here to help you demystify some of the lesser-known parts of the funeral industry and help you prepare. 

Give your loved one the end-of-life service that they deserve, with no fears of being talked into something you can’t afford.

Anita Chauhan

In the midst of experiencing a sudden loss, finding and choosing the right funeral home can be a tough task. It’s true that some people have long standing relationships with funeral homes that their families have used for eons, although this is not standard across the board. Many others will be aimlessly trying to find trusted spaces through Googling general things like “funeral homes [TOWN/CITY NAME]”.

True, this has been a method that has worked for many people since we have entered the digital age, but despite being able to source funeral homes and other end-of-life related necessities through this method, we are still putting ourselves at risk.

Sometimes, we don’t know what we are getting into or if we are making the right choice for our loved ones. Funeral homes are businesses after all, and although they are striving to provide compassionate care and service for those who have passed, they are still trying to make a profit and have some industry and trade secrets that they bet on you, as the consumer, to not know.

Thanks to a lack of transparency in this industry, it’s understandable why so many people are turning to companies like Eirene for their end-of-life solutions.

We’re here to help you demystify some of the lesser-known parts of the funeral industry and help you prepare. By the end of this article, you’ll be an informed consumer, and able to give your loved one the end-of-life service that they deserve, with no fears of being talked into something you can’t afford.

The lowdown on Funeral Homes

Did you know that in an average lifetime, the third-largest purchase a Canadian will make is their funeral? Being so notoriously expensive, it’s important that you have all the facts and information before having to make a decision.

The funeral business is especially unique from other industries in that the consumer is often at their most vulnerable state, and ultimately more susceptible to guilt and sales pressure. There have been a number of reports and exposes that have come out about the aggressive sales tactics employed by funeral homes, inspiring and progressing the idea that the death care industry is one based off of guilt.

Chances are you've Googled a funeral home during a time when you aren’t in the headspace to take on any comparison shopping or price matching. Because many are unaware of what else is out there, or of what they need until the time comes for them to consider it, it’s easy to be talked into things that aren’t exactly required or necessary for their loved one’s end-of-life arrangements.

For example, embalming, which is a way to give the deceased a more “lifelike” look for viewings or visitations, is not a legally required step in the funeral process and does not provide any public benefit (and is actually not great for the environment). The idea that embalming is a necessity is a common misconception that is perpetuated by the industry and sold to you at an extra charge, despite the wishes of you or your loved one.

Meet the FBCSA

In Canada, funeral homes and the funeral industry are some of the more heavily regulated businesses that exist. This is great news for you, the consumer. The FBCSA, or theFuneral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, was passed in 2002 and “was created as consumer protection legislation respecting funerals, burials, cremations, and related services within the province of Ontario.” This piece of legislature and its regulations have been put in place to help consumers make the right choices, especially during a delicate and emotional time.

Under the FBCSA, you are entitled to certain rights when preparing end-of-life arrangements including:

  • Service providers must provide you with an itemized price list including all of the supplies and services they are selling before a contract is drafted and signed
  • Funeral service providers must tell you about certain business arrangements if they are benefiting from something they are recommending to you or selling you a specific supply or service (i.e. commissions or benefits paid to them if you are choosing a specific florist)
  • Service providers must notify you if the owner of that business owns another bereavement-type business located within 100 kilometres

Another thing to note is that funeral homes are not allowed — by law — to add charges on things that you are agreeing to handle by yourself. In the case that you, for example, provide your own casket from another source, a funeral home cannot charge a handling fee on top of it. If you are working with a funeral home that pushes for this, it’s time to source another - and time to contact the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.

Before making any decisions when it comes to your or your loved one’s end-of-life arrangements, consider the following when dealing with a funeral director.

Before signing a contract:

  1. Make sure you are dealing with a licensed Provider (ask to see their licence).
  2. Review the Provider’s price list to make choices that are in your budget.
  3. Review the cemetery or crematorium’s by-laws.
  4. Make sure the contract sets out the things you have agreed to buy or rent, such as:
  5. services, facilities, and vehicles
  6. a casket, urn, vault, grave, crypt or niche and monument,
  7. any other payments (for newspaper notices, police escorts, honorariums for religious officials, etc.)
  8. Make sure that the contract also includes any taxes to be paid.
  9. Ask the Provider if they are receiving any commission or benefit from recommending services from third parties.

Please note: for your contract to be valid, both you and the Provider must sign it. Make sure you receive a copy of the signed contract for your records. (via the BAO)

Taking care of yourself, and your loved ones

Choosing the right end-of-life solutions for your loved ones is not an easy task. Many funeral homes encourage buying services that you may not want or need. In some cases, this is an easy route for you, as a person who is grieving, to consider instead of pouring over every minute detail.

But if you’re looking to make sure you’re honouring the wishes and needs of your loved ones in their last hours, it’s important for you to take the necessary steps to educate yourself on what is out there and what can be expected throughout the process. It may even lead you to question if you necessarily need to go the funeral home route at all.

People across Canada are opting for no-fuss direct cremation solutions. Eirene is a solution for your end-of-life planning needs that provides transparent pricing, an easy-to-understand process at a fraction of the cost, and with no predatory fees.

We provide your loved one with the respect and dignity they deserve, and you get to choose how you would like to honour them. Connect with us today to learn more!

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