What do I need to know about funerals in Ontario?

The process of planning a funeral following the death of a loved one can seem overwhelming.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you make arrangements.

What do I do when someone dies?

In Ontario, when a loved one dies there are certain steps you must take first before you can begin to make arrangements.

How can I find a funeral service provider?

In Ontario, funeral service, transfer service or crematorium service providers must be licensed. No matter which option you choose, a service provider is required to give you various options and price lists.

You can find a listing of service providers on the Ontario Funeral Service Association website.

Who has the legal right to make decisions?

One of the first things you must determine after someone dies is who has the authority to decide what will happen to the person's body.  Below is a list, in order, of who may act as legal representative:

  • Estate trustee (also known as executor) who is named in the will.  Alternatively, an administrator may be appointed by the court.
  • Spouse
  • Adult children

If there is no will you may wish to obtain legal advice before making any plans.

How much does a funeral cost?

The cost of a funeral can vary considerably and depends a lot on type of funeral services you choose. Service fees generally cover:

  • Funeral home staff
  • Vehicles
  • The facility
  • Embalming (if chosen)
  • The funeral service.

Burial details can add to your expenses. Try to get more than one quote for funeral services when possible.

Is financial assistance available?

If you do not have enough money to cover the funeral costs, you may be able to apply to your local municipality for assistance. Speak to your municipality before you sign any contracts to see what costs, if any, might be covered.

What if the deceased died outside of Ontario?

The funeral home you choose will need to coordinate with a funeral professional at the place of death and arrange for the preparation of the body for shipping back to Ontario. For more detailed information, you can visit the Canadian Funerals online website.

Do I have to use a funeral home or a transfer service?

You or your family may move the body or organize services yourselves. However, you must involve a cemetery or crematorium for burials and cremations. If you are going to move a body out of Ontario, speak to a funeral home or transfer service. If a body is being moved in or out of Ontario, the law requires that it be embalmed.

What can you do with cremated remains?

You can choose to keep the remains in an urn, or scatter the remains. Generally, if you scatter ashes you should check to see if you have permission from the owner of the land.  More details on regulations can be found on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services website.

Organ Donation

If you believe that your loved one wanted to donate their organs, you should contact the Trillium Gift of Life Network Provincial Resource Centre as soon as possible at 1-877-263-2833.  It is a good idea for people who want to become organ donors to register online in advance.

For More Information

This article contains information from the Ministry of Consumer Services.

Last updated: August 31, 2017 4001622