Category: Funerals

16 Oct

Peer into the Crystal Ball: Business Opportunities in an Aging World

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Whether it’s technology or tv trends, Japan seems to be light years ahead.  And we play catch-up (ok, not so with the stupid game shows).  Japan’s median age is 43.5, Canada’s is 39.1.  But since Japanese live longer (life expectancy of 82.12 versus Canada’s [still respectable] 81.23), we’re really only a few years behind.  So what can we learn from their population, which is a few years ahead of ours in dealing with an aging population?

The answer is: forget about cars, dvd players and even robots.  Funerals are very, very big business in Japan.  According to this Bloomberg article, the Japanese funeral industry is worth US$18 billion.   Last year, 1.14 million Japanese died, and funeral companies charge about $26,094.62 per funeral.  By 2040, 1.66 million will be dying every year.  Future growth is in death, and as Bloomberg notes, "everyone from railway companies to retailers wants a slice."   Funeral companies are stampeding towards Japan.

Unfortunately, things won’t be so rosy in Canada.  This is because Japanese funerals are mostly Bhuddist funerals, which are elaborate multi-day events involving chanting monks, flowers, meals, cremation ceremonies, jade urns and the like.  They are elaborate, exhausting events.  Our funerals are fast-forwarded commercial breaks by comparison.  But it is still a glimpse into the future.

Have a great weekend,

Chris Graham

Christopher M.B. Graham – Click here for more information on Chris Graham.


04 Sep

The Business of Death: Funeral Industry Meeting the Needs of Different Communities

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Ontario now has its first eco-friendly burial ground. Read Sarah Hyndman Fitzpatrick’s previous blog on green burials for some more insight on this growing trend.

Cobourg Union Cemetery caters to the eco-conscious. They insure that nothing goes into the ground that is not harmless and biodegradable. The Cemetery permits no markers, headstones, concrete vaults and avoids digging by machinery. The costs for a green burial, in the range of $2,000 to $5,000 are significantly less that costs for a conventional burial.

A funeral business group in Columbia is meeting the needs of another community.
Prevision Exequial sells funeral insurance to Columbia immigrants who live in United States. There was a need in the community to provide affordable funerals for new immigrants from Columbia. For a low monthly cost of $4.12 a month that group guarantees covering the costs of transporting the body or remains to Columbia or the costs for a burial and funeral service in the United States. It also assists with the related paperwork associated to obtaining a death certificate that may be daunting to new immigrants.
The funeral industry has adapted to provide a more personal service and meet the changing needs of the population. And while planning your funeral might not be a fun thing to do, there are a lot of choices out there.

On a less morbid note, enjoy the long weekend!

Diane Vieira

01 Sep

The Price for Spending Eternity with Marilyn Monroe

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Earlier this month, Elsie Poncher posted on eBay her late husband’s crypt for sale. The unique feature about the crypt is its location directly above the crypt of Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe in Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery. Mrs. Poncher decided to sell the valuable crypt and move her husband’s remains to another part of the cemetery in order pay the $1.6 million mortgage on her Beverly Hills home.
Last week, someone purchased the crypt with a winning bid of $4.6 million. That bid has since fallen through with the bidder unable to pay but there were a number of other multi-million dollar bids which may now become the winning bid.
In Ontario, the
Cemeteries Act

prohibits the private resale of burial plots or crypts. When someone purchases a burial plot, they receive interment rights in perpetuity, not property rights. The property rights belong to the cemetery and if required, transfer to a third party requires the consent of the cemetery and the cemetery maintains the right to buy back the interment rights.
However,  in the United States many states do not have similar legislation and some suggest that the reselling of burial plots have increased in recent economic times .
Thanks for Reading,

Diane Vieira


Diane Vieira – Click here for more information on Diane Vieira.

28 Aug

Funeral Industry Update: Doggie Edition

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As, no doubt, everyone is aware, Wednesday was National Dog Day in the United States.  In Atlanta, they celebrated the day with a special groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of the latest addition to the Deceased Pet Care family. 

For those who do not know, Deceased Pet Care operates funeral homes and crematories with the mission being to allow people to “celebrate, honour, remember, and cherish” their deceased pets. 

Operating out of Georgia, Deceased Pet Care offers pet funeral home ceremonies, cremations, and the opportunity for the pet to be buried in one of the pet cemeteries the company owns.  It also offers various funeral “accessories”, such as caskets and grave markers.  For those who want to avoid the stress of grieving a pet while trying to plan the funeral, the company offers “pre-need planning” for those who wish to plan in advance. 

The extent of the services the company offers is really quite impressive and its website is easily as sophisticated, if not more so, than many of the more traditional funeral homes (i.e. those who offer services for dead people).

Although it might seem like the emphasis on pets (either through commemorating them or for providing for them in the estate planning process) is relatively recent, Deceased Pet Care has obviously been well ahead of the curve – it is a family run business which has been operating for thirty five years. 

And this year, it surely should be proud – that funeral home they’ve just broken ground on in Atlanta will be the largest of its kind in the United States.

Have a great weekend!

Megan F. Connolly 

01 Oct

Right to Choose Your Final Resting Place

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A recent Toronto Life magazine article, “The New Death Etiquette” examines mourning in the 21st century. The new death etiquette includes multicultural hybrid funerals and intricate grieving rituals. Many funerals now are elaborate functions designed to reflect the individual personality of the deceased person. As stated in the article, there is no such thing as a standard burial these days. 

Most of us probably do not like to think about our funeral and final resting place. However, when it comes time to preparing a Will, many individuals will ask their lawyer to include burial instructions, such as a wish for cremation or to be buried in a particular cemetery. It may come as a surprise to learn that in Ontario, such instructions are not binding on the estate trustee. It is the estate trustee who has the right and obligation to bury a deceased person, even in the face of objections from family members. The authority for this comes from an English case decided over 100 years ago, Williams v. Williams (1882), 20 Ch. D. 659, where it was held that there is no property in a dead body, and so a person cannot by will dispose of their own dead body. An estate trustee, however, has the right to custody and possession of a deceased’s body until it is properly buried. 

Have a great day!

Bianca La Neve

09 Jul


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A few of our past blogs discussed eco-friendly or other alternatives to a natural burial. (See Eco-Funerals – Green to the Grave and Natural Burial.) In researching an issue regarding cremation and the scattering of ashes, I came across yet another alternative: resomation.

Resomation” is described as “an environmentally responsible, flameless, water based ‘biocremation™’ which sympathetically returns the body to its constituent elements.” In the process, which involves alkaline hydrolysis, the body is placed into a special vessel containing a pool of water and potassium hydroxide, which is heated to a high temperature under pressure. This dissolves the body into its chemical components, leaving only calcium phosphate bone ash. In addition, any mercury fillings and prosthetics remain intact, and can be safely removed.

The web site “Ecogeek” described the process as “The Greenest Way to Die”, and notes that the process does not release harmful mercury vapours, and only uses 90 kWh of energy, compared to 250 kWh for a normal cremation.

The company behind resomation describes the process as “accelerating natural decomposition”. 

It does not appear that the process is available in Canada yet. 

Thank you for reading.

Paul Trudelle

07 Mar

Macabre gap in New Zealand law?

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"It’s unacceptable to the average person that you can just turn up with a bunch of heavies and steal the coffin."

Coen brothers?  Nope.  No, not Tim Burton either.  In fact, this is a statement put forth by an MP in New Zealand after the third case of body snatching in less than a year. 

As reported in the BBC news yesterday, the body of a 76-yr old woman was hijacked right out of the back of the hearse by four carloads of people including her estranged daughter.  The bizarre, but not unprecedented, scene sparked a bitter family row over the deceased’s last wishes with respect to her funeral arrangements.  The deceased had been married to a Maori man but separated from him in the 1970s.  Clashes over where people are buried are apparently not uncommon in Maori society, particularly in marriages of mixed descent (e.g. Maori and European).

Incredibly, a spokesman for police national headquarters said they had limited power to intervene: "Body snatching is not against the law" since, in contrast to Ontario, a body cannot be legally owned in New Zealand.  The recent cluster of body snatching cases may lead to an overhaul of New Zealand law regarding who owns a body.

David M. Smith

08 Feb

Natural Burial

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Environmental consciousness is spreading, and is making its way into the realm of estates.

There is a growing movement towards “natural burial” or “eco-cemeteries”, and away from more traditional practices such as a conventional burial or cremation. Both of these traditional practices are said to have adverse environmental effects that can be avoided through natural burial. 

Conventional burial normally involves the use of formaldehyde, a potential carcinogen. Vast amounts of steel, wood and cement are involved in the burial process. Cemeteries are often simply fields of grass, with grave markers, that require watering, mowing, pesticides and herbicides.

As for cremation, the process requires huge amounts of natural gas. Emissions from crematories contain hazardous materials.

In natural burial, the body is prepared without use of chemical preservatives such as embalming fluids, and the body is buried in a biodegradable casket or shroud. The physical layout of the cemetery is distinct in that traditional grave markers are avoided, and the grave markers are designed to blend in with the landscape. Pesticides and herbicides are avoided. 

For more information, visit the Natural Burial Co-operative website at

According to their website, the Natural Burial Co-operative is currently working to establish Canada’s first natural burial preserve.

The movement still appears to be in its infancy; however, interest in the concept of natural burial is growing.

Have a great weekend.

Paul Trudelle

15 Jan

Funeral Considerations – Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #95

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Listen to Funeral Considerations

This week on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana discuss the considerations and responsibilities of estate trustees at the time of a funeral.

They also introduce Malcolm Gladwell‘s book ‘The Tipping Point’ as a different way of understanding family behaviour at the time of death.


03 Apr

Estate Planning Considerations in the Context of Married and Unmarried Spouses – Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #54

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Listen to "Estate Planning Considerations in the Context of Married and Unmarried Spouses"

Read the transcribed version of "Estate Planning Considerations in the Context of Married and Unmarried Spouses"

During Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Episode #54, Ian and Suzana discuss how to avoid Will drafting problems when creating beneficiary designations for insurance trusts.

They also discuss the importance of including funeral arrangements in your Will, and the various Provincial approaches to the revocation of wills after marriage and after a divorce.


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