Tag: funeral planning

30 Jul

Funeral Pre-Planning: Take a Lesson From a Pirate

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate Planning, General Interest Tags: , , 0 Comments

Sailors, and in particular, pirates are often depicted as wearing gold earrings. There are many legends as to why they adopted this particular fashion statement. One has a clearly estate-related basis.

Sailors were often given earrings to commemorate certain sailing milestones, such as crossing the equator or rounding the treacherous Cape Horn. Superstition also played a role, as many believed that gold earrings would improve their eyesight, prevent seasickness or even drowning. Wax was often pressed onto the earrings, which could serve as earplugs when firing a cannon. Another theory is that the gold earrings were just a way for pirates to show off their wealth.

From an estate planning point of view, sailors would wear valuable earrings so that their funerals could be paid for if their bodies washed ashore. If a pirate died on the ship, the value of the earrings could be used to cover the cost of transporting their body back home, so as to avoid a burial at sea (assuming that there is honour amongst thieves, and that the earrings were used as intended).

Actor (non-pirate) Morgan Freeman sports gold earrings. He has been reported as saying that his earrings are worth just enough to pay for a coffin in case he dies in a strange place.

Preplanning a funeral is always a good idea. It alleviates significant stress, both financial and emotional, on those left behind. It also allows the planner to ensure that they are given the burial they want. Take a lesson from a pirate: make a plan.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.

Paul Trudelle

09 Jun

What to do After a Death of a Loved One

Ian Hull General Interest Tags: , , 0 Comments

It is a scenario no one wants to contemplate, but there is a chance someone close to you could suddenly die due to an accident or natural causes. Here is some general guidance about what to do in that situation.

You can arrange a traditional funeral with the assistance of your local funeral home, where staff are experienced at guiding grieving families through the process. Alternatively, you can make all the arrangements yourself. For advice, consult the Bereavement Authority of Ontario’s Guide to Death Care in Ontario for general information when making arrangements. This informative guide covers all aspects of what happens after someone dies and is a good reference even for those who choose a traditional funeral.

One of the first choices you will have to make is how to handle the body: burial, cremation or alkaline hydrolysis (AH). With AH, a heated solution of water and potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, along with pressure and agitation, reduces a body to components of liquid and bone. The resulting bone fragments are dried and reduced to a substance resembling cremated ashes.

The death must be registered by completing two documents. A Medical Certificate of Death completed by the attending doctor or a coroner outlines the cause. A Statement of Death must also be completed that details personal information about the deceased, such as family history, age at death and place of death. This is usually completed by the funeral director, in consultation with a family member.

The documents are submitted to the municipal clerk’s office, usually in the municipality where the death occurred.

You will need to get a burial permit in the municipality where you register the death. This permit is needed before funeral services can be performed, including cremation or AH.

If the death occurred outside Ontario but the burial will take place in the province, you will need a burial, transit or removal permit from the jurisdiction where the death occurred.

Another important document is a death certificate. The estate trustee will need this to settle the estate and to deal with government services. This certificate can be obtained online, with more information here.

You may already know if the person had a will, which in many cases bequests everything to the surviving spouse. If you do not know if there is a will, contact the estates division of the local Ontario court.

Private institutions – banks, insurance companies, pension funds – have to be contacted to inform them of the death, along with governmental organizations. If the deceased had been issued an accessible parking permit, you have 30 days to return that by mail to ServiceOntario.

If there is a provincial driver’s licence it must be cancelled. You can apply for a refund if there are six months or more remaining on the licence before it expires, as long as there are no outstanding fines. This can be done at any ServiceOntario centre.

Federal agencies must be contacted. That would include cancelling any benefit paid out through Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan or Employment Insurance. Be sure to be in touch with the Canada Revenue Agency and provide them with the deceased’s social insurance number, so that any outstanding taxes can be paid or that any benefits can be transferred to a survivor. If the deceased owed money to the National Student Loans Service centre, that debt will be forgiven.

The executor of the estate is also responsible for filing an income tax form on behalf of the deceased person and contacting the Family Responsibility Office if the deceased paid child or spousal support.

For more details about the responsibility to notify federal government services click here. More information about similar responsibilities you have to the Ontario government can be found here.

The death of a loved one can be devastating, but the resources listed above should help you get through it.

Take care and have a great day.

Ian Hull

16 Jan

Who Decides How to Dispose of Human Remains?

Sayuri Kagami Estate Planning, Executors and Trustees, Funerals, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

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!

Sayuri Kagami

03 Nov

Hockey Cards and Ashes

Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Funerals, Hull on Estates, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Catto v. Catto illustrates some of the myriad of issues that can surround the administration of an estate.

There, the deceased died at the age of 50 without a will. He was survived by his wife of one year, and his mother and a brother.

The mother applied to the court to be appointed as Estate Trustee. The mother also sought an Order that the deceased’s ashes be exhumed, so that one half of the ashes could be buried in a family plot in Quebec, and an order that she be reimbursed for funeral expenses.

The brother sought an order for the inspection of a hockey card collection, so that he could determine which of the hockey cards in the deceased’s possession belonged to him.

Ashes

The deceased’s spouse is alleged to have initially agreed to burial of the deceased’s ashes in the family plot. However, she subsequently obtained the ashes, and buried them in Peterborough.

In deciding what to do with the ashes, the court considered the question of who should be appointed as estate trustee. The estate trustee would be entitled to decide on the location and manner of burial of the ashes.

With respect to the appointment of estate trustee, the court considered the relevant statutes.  The court noted that the surviving spouse was entitled to all of the property of the deceased’s estate on intestacy, and did not have any interest that was adverse to the estate, such as a claim for dependant support or other relief against the estate. Buttressing this, the court noted that the deceased’s mother was a resident  of Quebec, and that s. 5 of the Estates Act prohibits granting letters of administration to a person not residing in Ontario.

As the deceased’s spouse was appointed Estate Trustee, she alone could determine the disposition of the ashes. The mother’s claim for half of the ashes was dismissed.

Funeral Expenses

The deceased’s mother was entitled to be reimbursed for funeral expenses by the estate. The court rejected the argument that the mother had made a gift to the estate of the funeral expenses.  To find a valid gift, the court requires i. an intention to make a gift; ii. acceptance of the gift; and iii. a sufficient act of delivery.  Here, the first and second points were not present. There was no intention on  the part of the mother to make a gift, and prior to appointment by the court, there was no administrator of the estate able to accept the gift.

Hockey Cards

The court reviewed evidence that the deceased and his brother collected hockey cards together for many years. The cards were originally in possession of the brother, but were then moved to the deceased’s residence as the brother was expecting twins and did not have space to store the cards.  There was allegedly a list kept by the deceased as to which cards belonged to whom. However, this list could not be found.

The court ordered that the cards be inspected by the surviving brother. If the list could not be found, then the cards were to be divided between the surviving brother and the deceased’s estate “in a randomized manner”.

Costs

In a separate decision, the court addressed the costs of the parties. The surviving spouse claimed costs of $10,133 plus disbursements and HST. In light of the divided success, and an offer to settle made by the spouse, the mother and brother of the deceased were ordered to pay costs to the surviving spouse of $5,000 plus disbursements and HST.

Takeaway

  • Make a will (it is, after all, Make A Will Month);
  • if you are holding property for someone else, or if someone else is holding property for you, have clear, shared records.

Have a great weekend.

Paul Trudelle

17 Feb

A Funeral for the Ages?

Hull & Hull LLP Estate Planning, Funerals, General Interest, In the News Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Celebrities and Explosions.

Now that I have your attention, yes today’s estate blog is actually about celebrities and explosions.

Johnny Depp, the famed actor.

Now I really have your attention.

I recently came across this article in The Guardian, which highlighted the efforts made by Depp to plan Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral after his passing in February 2005.

Thompson, well known for authoring Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas had made requests prior to his passing to Depp, a close friend, as to how he wanted his ashes to be scattered.  Depp stuck to his word and took steps to ensure that Thompson’s last wishes came true and made sure that “his pal was sent out the way he wanted to go out”.

As such, Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon that was placed atop a 153-foot tower shaped like a double-thumbed fist, clutching a peyote button, on Thompson’s Colorado farm.  Yes, apparently Thompson loved explosions.

The total cost of the funeral was $3 million, which apparently, was funded entirely by Depp.

The surviving spouse, Anita, Thompson, supported Depp’s decision and even went on to state that the grounds where the cannon stood, remains a meditation labyrinth that is used every day at Thompson’s Colorado farm.

In Ontario, an estate trustee has the paramount legal authority to determine the place and manner of burial.  There is no legal requirement for the estate trustee to follow the wishes expressed by the deceased (or the family of the deceased).  Where a Will includes burial instructions, such instructions are precatory and not binding on the estate trustee.

Find this topic interesting?  Please consider these related Hull & Hull LLP Blogs:

Noah Weisberg

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