Tag: Funeral Arrangements
Funerals can be expensive. Coming up with the money required for a proper disposition of remains can be difficult for many.
One option that is available to assist in paying funeral expenses is crowdfunding.
A recent search of “funeral” on gofundme.com revealed 1,759,748 results. According to the gofundme.com website, over 125,000 memorial campaigns were commenced per year, and over $400m was raised per year. Click here for a link to the gofundme.com funeral fundraising information page.
An article on funeraldirect.co on crowdfunding for funerals gives tips on how to mount a successful crowdfunding for funeral expenses campaign. Tips include:
- Use bright images or videos;
- Use descriptive and catchy titles;
- Spread the word using other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter;
- Share the link directly to friends and family;
- Keep supporters updated on the progress of the campaign;
- Make it clear how the donations are to be used; and
- Thank contributors for their support.
With respect to how the funds can be used, see an excellent blog from Suzana Popovic-Montag, Does Crowdfunding Establish a Trust?
Have a great weekend.
When a person dies, loved ones generally attend to the burial and memorial preparations without any thought as to who this responsibility falls upon and who has ultimate decision-making power. Where a dispute arises as to the how to say one’s final goodbyes, however, the courts are ready to provide an answer.
Courts have long held that the right to determine how a body is disposed of falls upon the estate trustee of the deceased’s estate. This right arises because the estate trustee is under a duty to ensure the deceased’s body is disposed of in a manner suitable to the estate left behind by the deceased. With this duty comes the corresponding right to possess the body for the purposes of burial. This right comes in priority of the right of spouses, children and other loved ones to decide how to dispose of the body.
For anyone who is in the process of preparing their wills, they hopefully give some thought and consideration as to the suitability of their chosen estate trustee. Ideally, they’ll ensure that their estate trustee is someone:
- likely to outlive the testator;
- willing to take on the task of administering an estate; and
- who will diligently bring all assets into the estate and attend to their distribution.
Testators may want to give some consideration for how the estate trustee will dispose of their body after death as well. This is particularly so as the disposition of one’s body is not something that one can validly provide for in a will (Williams v Williams (1882) 20 Ch D 659 (Eng Ch Div)). Hence, once deceased, testators are in the hands of the estate trustee, so to speak. Where a testator has any concerns that loved ones might fight over burial plans, then some further thought should be given to choosing an estate trustee who will act in accordance with the wishes of the testator.
Unfortunately, disputes over the burial of remains do come up. We’ve blogged on a few of these cases in the past, including the case of legendary soul singer, James Brown and the case of Leo Johnston, a slain RCPM officer in Alberta.
For anyone concerned about it, they may take some small amount of comfort in knowing that once in the ground, courts will be extremely cautious in disturbing a deceased’s (hopefully) final resting place (see, for example, Mason v Mason, 2017 NBQB 132).
Thanks for reading!
Climate change remains a leading topic of concern – and most of us have at least some awareness of our environmental footprint. Many of us have undertaken actions to reduce it, from energy-efficient light bulbs, to low flush toilets, to hybrid cars.
It’s not a stretch to take green concerns beyond our own lifetimes to our estate plans, because there are actions we can take today in planning that can make an environmental difference after we’re gone.
Here are three actions to consider if “going green” is a meaningful direction for you.
Keep your funeral small
Balancing interests is important, and your funeral or memorial service should reflect your wishes and also the needs of the friends and family you leave behind. But from a green perspective, smaller is better. It means fewer resources used, and less travel taken. It’s a small difference in the scheme of things, but by focusing less on the “show” and more on meeting the grieving needs of those closest to you, a small funeral can be an important symbolic gesture of “less is more.”
Donate to make a difference
One obvious way of supporting green initiatives through your estate plan is by donating to a charity whose mission relates to environmental concerns or sustainability.
A charitable gift at death is more than just a show of generosity and a nice tax break. It provides a powerful example to others of what you value – and can encourage your friends and loved ones to support the same cause, or another one like it.
For that reason, a gift to a charity made through your will should take some thought. There are thousands of organizations to choose from, with varying levels of administrative efficiency and expertise in putting donated money to good use. So, do your homework to ensure that your money – and the money of others who may donate in your name – will be effectively used to further the cause you’re close to.
Use your body for good
If you’re looking for the “leading edge” of alternative, here’s a concept worth considering: turn your body (after death) into a tree by using a biodegradable burial pod. You can read all about the concept here.
If that idea is a little too out there, the Green Burial Council certifies funeral homes, cemeteries, and product providers in North America on green standards relating to burials. By using products and service providers that are certified green, you can help ensure that your passing is a greener one.
Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your day.
I recently came across an interesting English decision which addresses the Court’s involvement in funeral arrangements.
In the case of Re JS (Disposal of Body), the High Court of Justice (in England and Wales) was forced to consider a dispute between the divorced parents of a 14 year old daughter, JS, who sought to have her body cryogenically frozen at death.
Unfortunately, JS was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and there was little hope of her recovering. As a result of researching cryogenics and cryopreservation on-line, JS said that “I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know that I am going to. I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken-up, even in hundreds of years’ time. I don’t want to be buried underground“.
JS’ mother supported her daughter’s wish, whereas the father’s position fluctuated throughout.
The Judge held that the mother is best placed to manage the request for cryopreservation. One of the reasons for this cited by the Judge is that JS’ father had not seen JS for the prior eight years.
Accordingly, the Judge made a specific order “permitting the mother to continue to make arrangements for cryopreservation and an injunction preventing the father from interfering with arrangements made with respect to the disposal of the body“.
Subsequently, JS passed away and her body was taken to the Cryonics Institute, in the USA.
This is an interesting decision not only because JS’ wishes were followed even though she was a minor, but also and because the Court indirectly provided guidance as to the appropriateness of funeral arrangements while the affected person was still alive.
For other interesting Hull & Hull blogs on Cryogenics & funeral arrangements, please see:
- Who Has the Authority to Make Funeral and Burial Arrangements on an Intestacy?
- Pre-Paying for Your Funeral
- The Legend of Ted Williams
Last week, I wrote about the recent trend of Death Cafes. As a reminder, a “Death Cafe” is a place for people to gather and discuss death with others, often strangers, over tea and cake. The goal of the Death Cafe is provide a space for people to speak about death, which is a taboo subject for many. Because of this taboo, people often avoid speaking about their own death to their friends and family. This reluctance to think about and speak forthrightly on the subject of death might prevent people from creating an effective estate plan. The Death Cafe can act as a forum for individuals to get more comfortable with the concept of dying and planning for the distribution of their assets upon death.
The current trend is to host Death Cafes among strangers, but it is worth thinking about holding a death cafe with loved ones. One major problem in succession and estate planning is communication. As mentioned in The Family War, a major point of tension between families in an estate battle is that they did not communicate and gauge their family member’s intentions prior to their death. Holding a family Death Cafe would provide an opportunity for families to avoid a large amount of fighting and grief in the future.
The Death Cafe website has some helpful information about how to hold a death cafe. They suggest avoiding an overly structured session, instead allowing the conversation to find its direction by allowing everyone to say what they want to say first. After this free-form conversation, whoever is facilitating the death cafe might introduce some specific questions. This would be a good time to address specific expectations and wishes regarding the will or funeral arrangements. In hosting a death cafe among family members, some topics to touch on might include what to expect after losing a family member, how to prepare for loss, possible sources of support and guidance, and avenues of communication for close and more distant family members. By creating an open platform and place for communication, some family turmoil might be avoided.
The Death Cafe website has helpful resources including checklists, conversation topics, and a blog.
Thank you for reading.
Shortly after a death, the Estate Trustee is called upon to make important decisions about the funeral and burial arrangements for the deceased.
In many instances, the deceased’s Last Will and Testament may provide instructions to the Estate Trustee regarding the funeral or the burial. However, such wishes regarding burial and funeral arrangements are precatory and not binding on the Estate Trustee. Generally speaking, while it is advisable for an Estate Trustee to consider the wishes of the deceased and his or her next-of-kin when making decisions about the funeral and the burial, the Estate Trustee’s authority to make such decisions is only constrained by a legal duty to dispose of the remains in a dignified manner.
While the authority to make these decisions is fairly straightforward where a deceased person leaves a Will naming an Estate Trustee, conflicts between family members can arise when the deceased dies intestate. This was recently illustrated by the Honourable Justice Smith’s decision in Catto v Catto, 2016 ONSC 3025.
In Catto, the Deceased died after less than a year of marriage to his spouse, Donna. Donna made arrangements for the Deceased’s funeral and burial in his hometown of LaColle, Quebec. However, before the Deceased’s ashes could be buried in his family’s plot in Quebec, Donna advised the funeral director that she wished to transport the ashes back to Peterborough. The funeral director advised Donna that the Deceased’s place of burial was ultimately her decision, and Donna decided to have the ashes interred in Peterborough without notice to any of the Deceased’s family members.
The Deceased’s mother subsequently brought an Application, alleging that the Deceased had wished to be buried in the family plot in Quebec and that Donna had agreed to the Deceased’s burial in the family plot. The Deceased’s mother sought Orders that the Deceased’s ashes be exhumed and that half of the ashes be returned to the family plot. As the Deceased had died without a Will, she also sought an Order appointing her as the Deceased’s Estate Trustee.
Where a person dies intestate, section 29 of the Estates Act gives the Court the discretion to appoint the spouse or common law partner, the next-of-kin, or both the spouse and the next-of-kin as the Estate Trustee. Justice Smith confirmed that section 29 does not confer a priority to the spouse to be appointed as Estate Trustee.
However, in the circumstances, given that the Deceased’s mother lived outside Ontario, that Donna was the sole beneficiary of the Deceased’s Estate, and that there was no potential conflict of interest with her appointment as Estate Trustee, Justice Smith concluded that the administration of the Deceased’s Estate should be committed to his spouse.
Thus, Justice Smith held that “[t]he decision on where the deceased is to be buried and the manner of burial is a right that is granted to the administrator of the Estate which in this case, is his wife Donna.” The relief sought by the Deceased’s mother with respect to the exhumation and reburial of the Deceased’s ashes was denied.
The Catto decision highlights the conflicts that can emerge on an intestacy, and serves as a reminder of the importance of making a Will: although the testator may not be able to dictate the terms of his or her funeral and burial, he or she may be able to minimize the conflict and acrimony over who has the authority to make these decisions by simply naming an Estate Trustee.
Thank you for reading,
Umair Abdul Qadir
Those who follow American politics have probably heard of Roland Burris. He is controversial Governor Rod Blagojevich’s choice to replace the Senate seat vacated by President –Elect Barack Obama. While the constitutional debate continues on whether or not Burris can be seated in the Senate, another issue that has grabbed the headlines is Burris’ final resting place.
Burris has commissioned for himself a grand mausoleum consisting of two columns and three tablets referring to himself as a trail blazer and listing all his political and business accomplishments, both minor and major, with room for more to be engraved. The monument, referred to “as his resume in stone” had attracted unfavourable attention from the media and earned Burris the nickname “Tombstone”. Needless to say, it was probably not the effect Burris intended.
While many people include burial instructions in their Will, such instructions are not binding on the estate. The estate trustee has the ultimate responsibility to make burial arrangements. For those who wish to make elaborate arrangements, they should make those instructions clear to the estate trustee and other family members, so that the estate trustee is not criticized for the expense to the estate. Additionally, we can take Burris’ lead and make our own arrangement during our lifetime. Click here to read Paul Trudelle’s paper on estate issues and dealing with the body after death.
Thanks for reading,
This week on Hull on Estates, David Smith and Natalia Angelini talk about the duties an estate trustee he or she is charged with from the moment of a testator’s passing. Duties include locating the will, making funeral arrangements and being responsible to see the intentions of the testator preserved.
Feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on the Hull on Estates blog.
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.
READ THE TRANSCRIBED PODCAST HERE
During this podcast on the role of the Executor, we discussed the following:
(i) applying for probate;
(ii) timing of distributions;
(iii) making funeral arrangements;
(iv) locating the will;
(v) filing the final tax return; and
(vi) providing information to beneficiaries. ——–