Ottawa Funeral Home Mistakenly Bills Family for Pre-Paid Funeral
Talking about funeral planning is a stumbling block funeral professionals meet on a daily basis. Encouraging families to pay for funeral services in advance can also be a difficult task. Understandably, people are hesitant to part with their money. However, pre-paying for a service and guaranteeing lower costs makes sense. In 2011, a woman in Ottawa thought she was making a good decision by pre-arranging and pre-paying for her grandmother’s funeral. When her grandmother died this spring, she received a bill for the funeral. As Executor, she doubted herself, wondering if she had pre-arranged the funeral but not paid for it. After reviewing her records, she realized that she had, in fact pre-paid for her grandmother’s funeral and had the necessary documentation to prove it. So why was she billed?
Read more about the story here: Ottawa Funeral Home Mistakenly Bills Family for Pre-Paid Funeral
Since this story went public, people have been asking us how a funeral home could bill a family for a pre-paid funeral. Although the situation was resolved, it does raise concerns. Will loved one be placed with the emotional and financial burden of paying for a funeral?
How Pre-Payment Works
- The funds invested in funeral prearrangements are always yours, and always portable.
- The funds invested in funeral arrangements remain in trust or in an annuity account until the death occurs.
- Once the services are paid in full, the services are guaranteed. There will be no additional fees.
- Any interest accrued will go towards covering future increases in price.
- If there are any funds remaining after the coverage current costs, the remaining funds will go back to the estate of the deceased.
Steps Your Funeral Home Can Take to Protect Your Pre-Paid Funds
- A funeral home should ensure files are administered to meet the legislation set out by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.
- The Bereavement Authority of Ontario audits files on an annual basis.
- Funeral Homes are obligated to provide families with copies of the contract that lists the prices of services and supplies requested.
- Families should receive a receipt for the money placed in a trust account or a certificate with an insurance policy, along with copies of any other signed documents.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Pre-Paid Funeral
- Upon purchasing a pre-paid funeral, be sure to keep copies of cancelled cheques or electronic payment records.
- Ensure that all services and products listed on the contract are paid for.
- Seek clarification on standard service charges, products and disbursements.
- Store all receipts and contracts in a safe place and notify your executor or Next of Kin of its whereabouts.