Pre-arranged funeral and pre-need cemetery plans: your rights
Funeral homes and cemeteries need to follow the rules set out in the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act and regulations. The legislation outlines your rights in relation to pre-arranged funeral plans and pre-need cemetery plans.
A pre-arranged funeral plan or pre-need cemetery plan is an agreement between you and the funeral home or cemetery to buy services or goods for yourself or a loved one before you need it. These plans protect you from increases in price over time for the funeral goods and services that you choose.
Only licensed salespeople who work for a funeral home or cemetery can sell you pre-arranged funeral and pre-need cemetery plans. Funeral homes and cemeteries need to follow rules set out in the legislation.
Everything included in the pre-arranged or pre-need plan that you buy needs to be listed in your purchase agreement with the funeral home or cemetery. Make sure that the items listed meet your needs and that each item or service you are buying is clearly stated in your contract. Some things, such as obituaries and flowers, may not be included in a pre-arranged or pre-need plan because the funeral home and cemetery have no control over the future cost of these items.
The funeral home or cemetery needs to give you a signed and dated copy of your purchase agreement within 10 days. Keep this in a safe place and let someone know where it is. The funeral home also needs to keep a copy of your purchase agreement on file.
Some funeral homes and cemeteries require full payment upfront, while others allow you to pay in installments over time. If you are paying by installment, the payment schedule needs to be included in your purchase agreement. If the plan holder dies before the plan is paid in full, the family may pay the remaining balance and have the goods and services provided at the pre-arranged price.
You can pay for your pre-arranged plan either through a funeral home or cemetery as a trust-funded plan, or through insurance as an insurance-funded plan.
The funeral home or cemetery needs to place the money you pay for pre-arranged funeral plans and pre-need cemetery plans in a trust account in your name. The money needs to stay in trust until the funeral home or cemetery uses it to fulfill your plan. The funeral home or cemetery can keep up to 10% of your payment as an administration fee for managing your money that is held in trust.
Within 21 days of receiving your money, the funeral home or cemetery needs to ensure that you receive written proof from the bank that your payment has been deposited into a trust account. If you pay by installment, the funeral home or cemetery needs to give you proof at least twice a year that your payments have been deposited. This proof may come directly from the bank.
The money you pay for pre-arranged funeral plans and pre-need cemetery plans needs to be paid directly to an insurance company (in full or by payments) and you receive a certificate as proof. Funeral homes and cemeteries are not allowed to receive payments for insurance-funded plans.
Funeral homes and cemeteries can’t charge you an administrative fee for insurance-funded plans.
You can cancel a pre-arranged funeral plan or pre-need cemetery plan whether the plan is funded by a trust or by insurance. To cancel, you need provide the funeral home or cemetery with a signed and dated written request to cancel.
Cancelling a trust-funded plan
You can cancel your pre-arranged funeral plan or pre-need cemetery plan at any time. If you cancel, you can get a refund of the amount you paid, less any administration fee that is set out in the purchase agreement you signed. This administration fee cannot be more than 10% of the purchase price.
The funeral home or cemetery doesn’t have to pay you interest on a refund. They need to give you your refund within 30 days of your written request to cancel. If the funeral home or cemetery has already bought your goods, like a gravestone or urn, the funeral home or cemetery may give you those items rather than a refund.
A funeral home or cemetery is not allowed to keep the 10% administrative fee in the following situations:
- funeral home or cemetery did not provide you with a signed copy of your purchase agreement within 10 days of you signing it
- less than 10 days have passed since you signed the purchase agreement or the signed agreement was mailed to you
Cancelling an insurance-funded plan
The cancellation of a pre-arranged funeral plan or pre-need cemetery plan does not automatically cancel the insurance policy. But, cancelling the insurance policy automatically cancels the insurance-funded plan. This means that if you cancel or default on your payments with the insurance company, the plan between you and the funeral home or cemetery is considered void.
Contact your insurance broker or company for details on how to cancel your insurance policy.
If you feel the funeral home or cemetery has not met the requirements covered in the legislation or outlined in the Pre-Arranged Funeral Plan Purchaser’s Guide, contact the funeral home or cemetery directly.
If your concern continues to be unresolved, you may contact the Office of the Registrar of Cemetery and Funeral Services.