3 tips to reduce funeral costs

3 tips to reduce funeral costs
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Funeral costs are among the inevitable expenses we all must face one day. But although certain items are not optional, it’s also true that the final bill can vary widely from one region and from one funeral company to another. Keep in mind that in many cases, it is possible to reduce your costs.

According to a study by the Corporation des thanatologues du Québec (CTQ, the Quebec association of funeral directors), the average fee is $6,500. That amount may seem high, but it’s important to note that it includes administrative costs, viewing or visitation, the ceremony, cremation and interment in a columbarium. There are also notary or lawyer’s fees, and the costs of a catered reception, among others.

1. Shop around

Annie Saint-Pierre, executive director of the CTQ, believes it is possible to reduce funeral-related costs. Taking the time to request sample price lists from several funeral service companies is a good start.

The loss of a loved one brings with it many deep emotions. In addition to dealing with all the estate matters related to legal succession, you must choose, among other things, between a casket and an urn, and the type of ceremony and/or burial. “At such a time, staying rational and making decisions based on your needs can be very difficult,” says Saint-Pierre.

“Burial costs in a cemetery or a columbarium will not be the same in Rimouski as in Montreal,” she adds. Most cemeteries are managed by parishes. Also, if you choose a columbarium as a final resting place, “expect to pay more to have the urn displayed at eye level,” says Saint-Pierre.

She emphasizes that funeral service companies have various requirements that they must respect. These regulations result in basic costs over which you essentially have no control. These include the transportation and handling of the deceased, the services of a family advisor, for administration – civil registration of the death, and application for the death benefit in Canada or Quebec, among other tasks – and, if requested, embalming. The costs will differ from one region or province to the next.

2. Make pre-arrangements

In terms of planning, and in the interests of safeguarding your family’s financial future, Saint-Pierre feels that pre-arranged funeral contracts offer a certain peace of mind during a difficult time. You will be able to limit the costs while creating a ceremony that reflects your wishes. And your decisions will be more rational since you will be less swayed by emotion than your family might be when you die.

Such planning also helps with funeral fees, since it protects against rising costs over time. “Pre-arrangements make a lot of sense in that they lock in today’s prices,” says Saint-Pierre. She adds that your investment is protected because the law requires that 90% of the amount paid in whole or in part for pre-arrangements must be deposited in a trust account.

3. Keep it simple

For a basic funeral, the minimum requirements for handling a deceased person will result in costs of about $2,500, according to the CTQ study. This involves simple disposition of the body (cremation, not including an urn, without visitation and without a ceremony). A ceremony in the presence of the ashes, including fees for the cremation, plus the room and the urn, will cost about $3,800.

Saint-Pierre notes that private visitations, which create a moment of intimacy for the family while also helping to reduce costs, are becoming more and more common.

Funeral costs by the numbers

Coffin*: From $1,000 to $10,000. In the case of cremation, some companies will offer a rental casket, with a choice of ceremonies.

Urn*: From $300 to $3,000, depending on the model chosen, whether it be carved, painted or engraved. Urns are available in wood, aluminum, porcelain, bronze and even sand.

Viewing and/or visitation*: From $500 to $2,000, depending on the length and type of ceremony.

Burial: Prices vary according to region and the type of lot chosen. On average, minimum costs in the Montreal area are:

  • Lots for urns: about $1,900
  • Lots for coffins: about $3,600
  • Headstones: about $1,400
  • Columbarium: between $125 and $320

*Source: Corporation des thanatologues du Québec

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to funerals – there are scenarios to suit all tastes and budgets. One way to make funeral planning and organizing easier is to talk to your loved ones. By clearly outlining your last wishes, you can help to guide the choices they make in their time of grief.

Edited on 10 May 2018

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