Losing a loved one is never easy.
Death is an inevitable part of life. While we you may not want to think about it, death also impacts your family.
As part of planning, you can write down your funeral wishes. It's also a good idea to plan ahead of time to help your family cover your final expenses. With the average funeral in Canada costing almost $10,000, your family may be unable to fulfill your family wishes.
Funeral insurance (often called final expense insurance) is an affordable way to ensure your family would not have to shoulder the financial burden after you pass.
In this post, we will discuss how life insurance can help with funeral planning in Canada. We will also look at the expenses associated with a traditional burial and various alternative funeral options.
What is the cost of a funeral in Canada?
In Canada, the average funeral costs $8,500. However, the cost of a funeral is heavily influenced by where it is held. Funeral costs in Canada can range from $1,500 to $25,000, depending on location and individual preferences, culture, and values.
Cremation is typically less expensive than burial. A burial in Canada typically costs between $5,000 and $10,000. Cremations, on the other hand, cost between $2,000 and $5,000.
Average Funeral Costs by Province
Here is a rough estimate of what you may expect to pay for a funeral depending on the province you live in:
- Ontario: $5,000 to $20,000
- Alberta: $3,500 to $12,000
- British Columbia: $1,500 to $12,000
- Quebec: $5,000 to $12,000
- Manitoba: $6,000 to $10,000
- Saskatchewan: $7,000 to $10,000
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $5,000 to $10,000
- New Brunswick: $6,000 to $11,000
- Nova Scotia: $6,000 to $12,000
- Prince Edward Island: $6,000 to $12,000
Approximate After-Death Costs and Arrangements
The overall cost of a funeral in Canada varies depending on your location, whether you choose a cremation or burial, and any extra elements you choose to include in the funeral service.
Let's look at the common after-death arrangements you need to plan for and their approximate costs:
To start, the cost of a death certificate is $15-$45 and registration is $0-$22.
If someone passes away in Canada, the death must be registered with the appropriate provincial authority. In most cases, it is a funeral director's responsibility to submit the necessary documents.
There is no fee if a death is registered within a year of the date of death. The cost of registering a death after one year is $22. After the death is registered, the family can apply for the death certificate in order to settle the deceased's estate. The cost of a death certificate varies greatly depending on the province.
- Transfer service ($100 or more)
This fee covers the cost of transporting the deceased from a hospital or residence to the care of the funeral home. The transfer fee is determined based on where you live, the total number of transfers required, and the total distance travelled. Remember that the transfer fee for an out-of-province body shipment is much higher.
- Casket, urn, or shroud ($0-$3,500+)
Do you want a casket or an urn? Do you want an expensive container or one that is reasonably priced? Or do you want to be buried in a shroud? The cost will be determined by your selection. Some cemeteries permit non-casket burials, which are significantly less expensive. Bringing your own urn to a cremation can help you save money.
- Body preparation ($150-$250)
Bathing and disinfecting the body is the first step in preparing the deceased for burial or cremation. The deceased's loved ones ultimately decide what happens next, which may include preparing and embalming the body for funeral services. Embalming is recommended but not required in all provinces.
- Funeral ceremonies (visitation, funeral, memorial) and staffing fees ($2,500 or more)
A funeral ceremony in a church or a funeral home can be an expensive affair, more so if a casket is involved. But it is not mandatory to arrange a funeral service. Also, the family of the deceased can arrange funeral services on their own, as long as they are not being paid.
- Burial plots and niches ($1,000 and more)
How much you pay for a burial plot comes down to three things: the location of the cemetery, the type of cemetery you choose (private, public, or not-for-profit) and the type of burial plot you want.
A family plot, which is a collection of single plots used to bury multiple members of a family, is more expensive than a single plot. The same can be said for companion plots, which are typically purchased by married couples or long-term partners. A companion plot consists of two burial plots placed side by side or a single plot that can accommodate two coffins stacked on top of each other (called a double-depth burial plot). Expect to pay more for two side-by-side plots than for a double-depth burial plot if you choose a companion plot.
Similarly, if you choose a private cemetery over a public or non-profit cemetery, your overall costs will rise. A private cemetery can cost two to five times as much as the other two types. The cemetery's location is also important. If the surrounding area is urban rather than rural, the price of a plot will be higher.
- Burial services or cremation ($1,000 or more)
Cremations, particularly direct cremations, are becoming more popular because they are much cheaper than burials.
Alternative End-of-Life Options
Whether you are someone who likes to do things differently, cares for the environment, or prefers a cheaper final farewell, there are several alternatives to a traditional funeral or burial in Canada.
Here are four such alternatives that are becoming more popular:
A tree burial involves burying a body in an earthen capsule and planting a tree, usually chosen by the deceased in life, above it. Alternatively, the ashes of the deceased can be buried in a biodegradable urn over which a tree is planted. In either case, the goal is to use the deceased's remains to create new life.
The planted tree grows as the body decomposes in the case of a burial. If a biodegradable urn is used, the ashes feed the tree planted above it.
The price of tree burial varies depending on the version you select. If you want to go for a burial, the pod itself will cost around $500. A biodegradable urn, on the other hand, costs less than $200. The tree is an additional cost that must be considered. A fully grown tree costs between $100 and $500, while small trees cost between $150 and $300.
If you always wanted to fly into space but cannot afford the cost of a two-way trip, you can opt for the next best thing: having your cremated remains sent into suborbital space.
A space funeral is launching the cremated remains of a person into space via a rocket. Keep in mind that not all of your ashes will be dispersed into outer space. Instead, only a small portion of your ashes will embark on space travel. A space burial can cost you anywhere between $2,500 and $12,500, according to CNET.
Vinyl compression involves pressing a person’s ashes into working sides of a vinyl, along with a recorded song or message. If you find it appealing to have an audio memorial that your family can cherish for years, consider vinyl compression in place of a traditional burial.
At present, there are only a few companies that embed cremated remains of a person into vinyl. The cost varies by company, but is usually not less than $4,000.
Today, many people choose cremation fireworks — also called “memorial fireworks” — because they want their funeral to be celebrated by their family and friends. Cremated remains of the deceased are added to fireworks that are set off to celebrate their life.
While cremation fireworks are legal in Canada, it is still a relatively new funerary process. As such, only a few companies offer this service, which comes with a price tag of $1,000 to $3,000.
Life Insurance and Funeral Planning
As you now know the average cost of a funeral in Canada, it's a good idea to start planning in advance. Your family will be grateful that you made advance arrangements when the time comes.
Saving a significant amount of money for end-of-life expenses may be easy for some people, but it is not possible for many of us. This is where life insurance comes into play. It pays your family a lump sum cash benefit upon your death, which they can use to cover funeral expenses, final medical bills, and any unpaid debts you may have left behind.
There are different types of life insurance plans — term life insurance, whole life insurance, and funeral insurance — that can be used for funeral planning. The one you should buy depends on your budget and long-term goals.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is the simplest and cheapest form of life insurance. It provides life insurance protection for a specific period of time. The policy term can last a certain number of years (like 10 or 20 years) or until the time you reach a certain age (like 65 years). Your beneficiary receives the death benefit if the death occurs during the policy term.
Since the payout is not guaranteed, term life might not be the best option for someone whose primary goal is to pay for funeral expenses. But if you want a single policy for funeral expenses and all other financial obligations, (like your child’s education expenses and mortgage), a plan with a longer term (for example a 30-year term life policy) may be right for you. Because term life insurance is 10 to 15 times cheaper than whole life insurance, it can give you the best value for money.
Term life insurance generally involves a medical exam, though you can buy a no-medical term life plan if you do not mind paying a slightly higher premium.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance has none of the limitations of term life insurance. With whole life insurance, you get lifetime protection, provided you keep up with the premium payments. A whole life insurance policy also includes a built-in savings component — referred to as cash value — which grows at a predetermined rate.
Think of cash value as a tax-advantaged savings account, which you can access at any time while you are still alive. The policy beneficiary typically receives only the death benefit in the event of your death. However, the promise of lifetime protection and the wealth accumulation feature do not come cheap.
Since whole life insurance gives you a guaranteed payout, it's often recommended for funeral planning. Given its high cost, investing in it only for this purpose does not make financial sense. It does make sense if you also have other financial obligations that do not have an expiry date. For example, if you have a special needs child, you would want him or her to be able to live comfortably after you are gone. The proceeds from your whole life policy could take care of your end-of-life expenses and still leave a sizable inheritance for your child.
A guaranteed payout is one of the key differences between term life and whole life insurance. (The other being the cash accumulation feature) While a term life plan is appropriate for temporary financial needs — like paying off the mortgage or providing income replacement to your spouse for a certain period — a whole life policy is primarily for permanent financial obligations.
In all likelihood, you will be asked to undergo a medical examination when you apply for whole life insurance.
Funeral insurance, also known as burial or final expenses insurance, is designed specifically to cover funeral expenses. Like whole life insurance, funeral insurance is a type of permanent life insurance product. It ensures your family will not have to worry about your end-of-life expenses.
Funeral insurance plans have much smaller payouts than whole life policies. Generally, the death benefit ranges between $10,000 and $25,000, though you may be able to buy $50,000 in coverage.
Funeral insurance policies involve little or no medical underwriting. As such, they are ideal for someone who is unable to qualify for traditional policies because of poor health. Some insurers will write you a policy even if you have a serious medical condition, though such plans tend to have a waiting period. In most cases the waiting period is of two years. If you die of natural causes within the waiting period, the insurer will refund the premiums paid so far but will not issue the death benefit. The waiting period does not apply to accidental deaths.
Funeral insurance plans can be either simplified issue or guaranteed issue.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
A simplified issue plan lets you skip the paramedical exam, but you must answer a few simple health questions as part of the application. The insurance carrier will determine your eligibility on the basis of your answers. Unless you have a severe health condition or a series of minor illnesses, you can expect to be approved.
Simplified issue plans are cheaper than guaranteed issue policies, but they cost more than comparable traditional plans. Some simplified issue policies (but not all) include a waiting period, typically two years.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue plans do not require taking a medical examination nor answering health questions. As such, acceptance is guaranteed as long as you meet the age requirement. If you have a very serious illness, guaranteed issues may be your only option to buy life insurance coverage. All guaranteed issue plans have a waiting period and the payout is typically lower than simplified issue life insurance.
What is the most cost effective way to bury a loved one?
Direct cremation, also known as “simple cremation,” is the least expensive way to bury a loved one. It involves the cremation of remains after an individual passes away, without any funeral services like visitation, wake, viewing, and other after-death rites or ceremonies. On average, a direct cremation costs between $500 and $1,000.
Funerals in Canada are be expensive.
The cost usually ranges between $5,000 and $10,000, but it can be much more depending on where you live and the type of funeral services you want. If you do not want your family to pay these costs, consider taking out a final expense policy. Final expense insurance is a type of permanent life insurance designed to cover end-of-life expenses. At Dundas Life, we work with top Canadian life insurers and can help you secure the right life insurance plan at an affordable price.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What happens if you cannot afford a funeral in Canada?
If there is no estate or the estate is not large enough to cover funeral expenses and you did not contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), the municipal or provincial government may cover the cost. The local government can help the family organize a basic funeral service by paying for a casket and cemetery (or cremation fees).
- How much does the Canadian government pay for a funeral?
If someone contributes to CPP, the Canadian government issues a one-time payment of $2,500 upon their death. This payment is made to the deceased’s estate or family members.
- Who is legally responsible for paying funeral costs in Canada?
If the deceased left behind a Will, the executor is responsible for making all the funeral arrangements and paying the expenses from the deceased’s estate. If the deceased did not name an executor, the executor is not traceable, or there is no will, the probate court picks an appropriate person, usually the closest living relative.
- What is funeral insurance?
Funeral insurance is a unique financial product that helps pay for your final medical bills and funeral expenses. In exchange for regular premiums, the insurer promises to pay your family a small cash benefit — often up to $25,000 or $50,000 — that can help them arrange a fitting farewell to you. Funeral insurance is a subset of permanent life insurance, which means you can rest assured in the knowledge that your policy will pay out the death benefit.
- What is the average cost of a funeral in Canada?
A funeral can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 in Canada, but keep in mind that average funeral costs vary by city and province.