Funeral Planning

What Can I Do To Assist My Family

Most people do not like to think about their own death or the death of a close family member. Still, a death in a family unit occurs, on the average, once every 12 years. It is a time of decision making, often in the midst of deep sorrow. Some people are unprepared to cope with the responsibilities that must be faced. Yet, the decisions to be made are most times irreversible.

PUT YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER NOW

Appoint An Executor
An executor’s job is demanding and time consuming. Judgement and knowledge are critical to the decision making process when appointing an executor. An inexperienced family member or friend is often named executor. Unfortunately, the appointment is viewed solely as an honour, without due consideration.

An executor / executrix is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will after you die. (There can be more than one executor.) The executor is also the person who has the legal authority to “control the disposition” (make funeral arrangements) for the deceased. You can name an alternate executor to take on the responsibility if your chosen executor cannot or will not accept the responsibility.It is essential to talk to this person prior to naming him or her as Executor / Executrix. Your alternate executor must also be consulted and both should have a copy of your Will.

Lawyers And Trust Companies
If your affairs are complicated, lawyers and trust companies provide executor services.They are experienced in looking after administrative details, insurance claims, taxation concerns, setting up, and administrating trusts. This is also a way to avoid burdening family or friends with the responsibility of attending to estate business. Lawyers and trust companies usually base their fee on a percentage basis of the estate.

Have A Valid Will
The grief your family may suffer following your death will be greatly magnified if you do not have a valid Will. Families have been shattered over poorly drawn up Wills or the administration
of the estate. A properly drawn, up to date Will, is one of the finest protections that a person can give their family.

THREE IMPORTANT REASONS TO MAKE A WILL

  1. To explain what you want done with your assets or property, called your estate; that includes all your real and personal property.
  2. To name a person or company, called an Executor, to manage and divide your estate.
  3. To name a person, called a Guardian, to look after your children and their estates.

To avoid conflicts after you are gone, it is also advisable to name beneficiaries of family heirlooms and / or household effects. Keep a separate list and change it, as you need. This will prevent the hassle of amending the Will. The list should be signed and kept with the Will.

WHEN THERE IS NO WILL
The Estate Administration Act says how your estate will be divided if you die without a Will. A court will have to appoint someone to handle your estate. That person is called the Administrator. The Administrator is similar to the Executor who would have been named if you had made a Will. Usually the Administrator will be one of the people who will share in your estate. Sometimes people will disagree about who should be appointed and the Court has to decide whom to appoint. This can take a lot of time and money. If no one is willing to be the Administrator, then the Public Guardian and Trustee can do the job. The Court will also appoint a Guardian if you have children and their other parent is not alive. In most cases your survivors will have a much easier time if you make a Will. A Will is the best way to ensure your estate will be divided the way you want and that your children will be taken care of by the person you want.

Who Can Apply To Administer Your Estate?
If living with the deceased at the time of death, the spouse of the deceased or a common law spouse is the first person who can apply to administer your estate. If you have no spouse or if your spouse is not willing or able to administer your estate, thenone or more of your relatives can apply, according to the priority set out by law. If there are no relatives willing or able to do this, then

  1. Any other person who may be appropriate could apply to be Administrator. This many include a friend of yours, or a professional such as a lawyer or accountant.
  2. The Public Guardian and Trustee, as Official Administrator for the Province of B.C. might also apply to administer your estate in some circumstances; for example, if your estate is insolvent or if no one else is willing to act as Administrator.

WHERE TO KEEP YOUR WILL & IMPORTANT PAPERS
Keep your Will safe from fire, floods, theft and other damage. A good idea would be to place the Will in a safety deposit box in your bank. It is extremely important to note that a copy of the Will and any instructions with respect to funeral arrangements be kept in a location other than a safety deposit box that is known to the Executor or family.
Funeral arrangements are often made within 48 hours after a death has occurred. A death does not necessarily happen between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and access may not be available to these important documents. Remember that it is the legal representative named in the Will that has the authority to make funeral arrangements.

Do not leave the matter of funeral arrangements in the Will, as it is usually not read until after the funeral has taken place. It is therefore extremely important that the Executor has copies of all the necessary documents in order to expedite your wishes. This especially could hold true if a death occurred over a long weekend or during the holiday season when banks, trust companies and law firms are generally closed.

Funeral Planning
Today more than ever, people are choosing to preplan or prepay for their own funeral arrangements. Such planning spares survivors making arrangements on short notice, reduces emotional strain and helps to ensure that the wishes of the deceased will be respected.

Direct Selling
Funeral homes and cemeteries are prohibited by the Cremation Interment and Funeral Services Act to engage in direct selling at a person’s residence or to engage in telephone solicitation. An individual selling funeral and or cemetery arrangements may enter your home after receiving an invitation from you at least twenty-four hours in advance. This ban also applies to direct selling of any form of insurance intended to provide for cemetery property, funeral service and memorials.

Any concerns should be directed to Consumer Protection British Columbia - Telephone: 1-888-564-9963 or (604) 320-1667.

Because the Last Will and Testament is often read after the funeral, the best approach is for a person to speak to the family and a funeral director about arrangements then write those wishes down and keep in a known place. The person who sets these personal wishes down will be performing a thoughtful gesture. A pre-arranged funeral plan may be arranged with most British Columbia Funeral Association members.

Funeral services plan contracts are required by law to include an itemized listing of all goods and services purchased and any other costs involved.

Money collected under a prepaid agreement must be placed in a government regulated trust account within 21 days.

The full sum of the agreement may be collected or an amount may be agreed upon to be paid on a monthly or time basis

A prepaid agreement may be canceled at any time. The funeral provider is entitled to a deduction for selling expenses of not more than 20 per cent of the amount received.

In a prepaid plan, the cost does not increase even if the services do not take place for many years.

With many funeral providers you can have a preplanned arrangement without prepaying. For example, you may register your wishes at a funeral home for no fee.