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Working with a funeral home can help ease the burden of planning logistics

When a loved one passes away, the process of planning a funeral can seem overwhelming. However, there are options and programs that can help alleviate this stress.

Katie Johnson, a licenced funeral director, is passionate about helping families get prepared, and understand what options are in place to help with the stress and costs. Johnson, who obtained her licence in 2011, has been with the Lougheed and Jackson & Barnard Funeral Homes for over 10 years.

Prior to this she worked as a director in Toronto. However, her love of the profession goes back much further. During a high school co-op placement, she was introduced to the funeral profession, and has never looked back. She is a past member of the Education Committee for the Board of Funeral Services (presently the Bereavement Authority of Ontario), and a past board member of the local Suicide Prevention Network.

“I grew up working in the profession and have witnessed many changes in the industry over the years.” she says.

Katie created the funeral home’s free aftercare assistance program (that helps guide families and executors administering the estate) in 2013.  “This program is offered to all of our families at no cost and includes completing the Canada Pension Death Benefit Application forms,” she says.

With her expertise, Johnson helps families understand the process during pre or at need by answering the following questions.

What is Prearranging and Why is it Important?

“Prearranging is making funeral arrangements prior to a death. This can be done with the funeral home and is offered at no cost. Often this helps families to have a discussion regarding their wishes.

“A prearranged funeral consists of the necessary information required to register the passing with the Ontario Government at the time of death, funeral wishes regarding cremation or burial, gathering, and a funeral ceremony.

“The reason for pre-arranging is because grief can overwhelm a person’s decision making. Knowing the deceased’s wishes in advance will help relieve a lot of stress for families.”

Johnson encourages starting a folder with important documents that their next of kin or executor would need to administer the estate. This includes funeral prearrangement and cemetery information, insurance and investment details, banking information, the location of cash and assets (and their value), passwords, power of attorney documents, the will, etc.

What Is A Prepaid Funeral?

Pre-payment, on the other hand, simply means paying for the services or funeral in advance.

Johnson says, “When a funeral is prepaid, the money is invested into a trust account, which is overseen by the BAO (Bereavement Authority of Ontario). While the money is in trust, it gains interest to offset inflation costs. Once fully prepaid, the amount of the funeral is guaranteed. If there is a shortfall between the amount prepaid and the current amount of the funeral at the time of death, the funeral home absorbs the difference; there is no extra cost to the family. Lougheed’s offers a 10% discount on all fully prepaid services.”

“Some families,” she continues, “have investments or life insurance that will help pay for the funeral at the time of need. So, for some it is not necessary to pre-pay for a funeral. Lougheed’s offers 60 days to pay the balance of the funeral so families waiting for insurance or investment funds do not necessarily have to pay out of pocket.”

What Does CPP Pay at Death and Who Qualifies?

“The Canada Pension Death Benefit is a one-time lump sum payment of $2,500, often made payable to the estate. Anyone who has contributed to the Canada Pension Plan for at least 10 years since 1966 would qualify. Prior to January 2019, the program would pay up to $2,500, depending on funeral costs, but now is a flat lump sum for qualifying applicants.

“Canada Pension also has a monthly Survivor’s Benefit (often referred to as a Widows Pension) for a legal spouse, which is up to 60 per cent of the deceased’s monthly CPP if the survivor is over the age of 65, and 37.5 per cent if the survivor is under 65. There is also a benefit for any children of the deceased under 18, or 18-25 and in full time education, pending they were dependant on the deceased.”

Does Old Age Security (OAS) Pay a Death Benefit?

“Old Age Security does not have a death benefit, However, just as CPP, the deceased would be entitled to the payment from the month they passed away. For example, if the death occurred on the 1st of the month, they would still be entitled to that payment coming at the end of the month.”

If the Deceased Has No Money, Who Pays for Their Funeral?

“Pending the deceased has no property or financial assets, they are potentially a candidate for Ontario Works (social services) to cover expenses.”

What if the Death Occurs at Work?

“When someone passes away due to a work-related incident or disease, WSIB is involved and assists with covering funeral expenses; and depending on the case, so is the company.”

What if the Death Occurs in a Car Accident?

“Ontario has no fault insurance. When someone dies in a vehicle accident, $6,000 is available from the insurance to help pay funeral expenses.”

Johnson has seen it all during her many years as a funeral professional, so it is with confidence that she advises the following – work with a funeral home that has knowledge of the many ways to help families with logistics and costs.

Lougheed’s does all they can to help ease the burden on grieving families, be it working directly with the insurance company or WSIB, completing necessary documentation, or most importantly being a resource and support in their sadness.

She hopes this article helps families to understand ways to prepare and the different financial options available. She encourages families to seek out funeral homes that offer this level of caring, professional service because no matter what has taken place before, grief is the primary emotion at the time of need.

Lougheed’s understands this and works with families to ensure their loved one’s wishes are respected and the family members are supported.

source: https://www.sudbury.com/spotlight/katie-johnson-from-lougheed-funeral-homes-answers-common-questions-about-funeral-planning-7194530