Pre-paid Funeral Plan – Will I Get What I Paid For?

Note from Coleman Wealth: Thinking about a pre-paid funeral is an often neglected estate planning item. However, we have connected with Katherine Downey, a Certified Executor Advisor and specialist in legacy and funeral planning. Kat offers many important products and services to help make the conversation around funeral planning less taboo, more accessible and comfortable for seniors and their caregivers. To find out more information or to be put into contact with Kat, please email us at

During a recent presentation to a Lions Club a lady asked me “How do I know that the prepaid funeral will actually give me what I paid for – not something cheaper in the end?” When people have the courage to preplan and prepay their eventual funeral arrangements, they enter into a contract with the Funeral Home and a licensed Funeral Director. The binding legislation for the profession is the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act. In this legislation, it is mandated that every funeral home must have a current price list, and all goods and services must be itemized on the prepaid funeral contract – exactly as these items are listed in the price list. Additionally the Ontario Board of Funeral Services has outlined how all prepaid funeral contracts must be organized.

Every funeral home will have a separate charge for the following items:

  • Documentation fee – permits, forms, statements
  • Transportation of remains – usually a specific radius is stated
  • Professional and Staff Services – coordinating activities, rites and ceremonies
  • Embalming of remains
  • Basic preparation of remains
  • Facilities for preparation/embalming/shelter
  • Staff services for visitation
  • Facilities for visitation
  • Facilities for ceremony or off site facilities set up fee
  • Administration and service vehicle fees
  • Family Limousine – usually a time perimeter is also stated
  • Funeral Coach
  • For each item that is applicable and prepaid, the current price is entered onto the prepaid contract for the item selected.

Further, the legislation mandates that for the merchandise selected and prepaid, a full description of the selected merchandise must be on the prepaid contract. For example, if a casket is selected the manufacturer must be noted along with the name of the casket, a full description of what it is made of, and the model number. The current price of the casket is then entered onto that line of the prepaid contract.

When the contract is complete there will be an itemized price and full description for each item selected.

The legislation also states that if the merchandise selected and prepaid is no longer manufactured or available at the time the funeral services are required; then the funeral director must inform the Estate Trustee and make a substitution for the previously selected merchandise of equal or greater value. I have seen this a few times and usually it involves a casket selected many years ago. For example, one lady had prepaid a cherry casket and that model was no longer manufactured. In that situation the Estate Trustee selected a different cherry casket.

This lady’s question reinforces the importance of knowing exactly what you have prepaid. Additionally, tell your Estate Trustee your wishes and where the contract is; better yet give them a copy of your paperwork. If you would like to know more about how you can setup your prepaid funeral contract please connect with me. I am also offering a complimentary prepaid contract review to ensure you have everything the way you want it to be in the end.


Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, radio host, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set up an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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