Have you found yourself suddenly responsible for making the funeral arrangements for a loved one, including paying for it? Managing unexpected costs can add to the stress during an already difficult time. Here’s some information to help you make an informed decision that best meets your needs and budget.

Talk to a funeral provider about your options

When making funeral arrangements, people tend to rely on a licensed funeral home to plan the funeral services. Funeral directors are licensed and trained professionals and funeral homes must meet certain requirements by law. If you have questions about what your options are or have concerns about your budget, your funeral provider is the best person to speak to about this. It’s also wise to contact more than one funeral provider as costs and services can differ.

The law in BC

Funeral services and cremation are governed in BC under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (and regulations) and the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act (and regulations). We oversee those laws.

While those laws don’t necessarily speak to the legal minimum requirements around a funeral, we have some information that can help you make informed choices following the death of a loved one.

Consumers in BC are within their rights to:

  • Register the death of a loved one.
    Consumers can register the death of a loved one themselves with Vital Statistics and can have additional copies of the death certificate certified through a bank, notary, or a lawyer.
  • Privately transfer remains.
    Consumers have the right to privately transfer the remains of a loved one. For example, if a loved one passes away at a hospital, the family member with the right of disposition can organize the transfer of their loved one to the funeral home, cemetery or crematorium themselves. They must first fill out an application to get a private transfer permit, and they must meet the private transfer requirements. Not all crematoriums or cemeteries receive remains through private transfers, so it is important to ask around and confirm what is permissible.
  • Supply their own casket or container.
    By law, consumers are allowed to supply their own casket or container for burial or cremation, as long as it meets certain specifications and also meets the requirements found in the Public Health Act. Consumers may also be interested in asking the cemetery if they have size restrictions or charge extra fees. Consumers can also supply their own urn or container for the cremated remains of a loved one and there are no legal requirements for what the container must look like.
  • Have access to pricing information.
    Funeral providers must have a copy of their prices for all services and packages available to the consumer onsite or on their website. The showroom must display at least six different containers (either as full or partial replicas), and one of them has to be their lowest-priced model. All the containers must have clear price tags. If the funeral provider doesn’t have a separate room to display their coffins and urns, they must share pricing information about the containers they sell in a public manner, such as in a book, in a brochure or online. 
  • Choose not to embalm or do a viewing.
    There are no laws that we are responsible for that require embalming or the viewing of a loved one. These are personal choices that are up to the family to make. If a consumer decides to decline embalming or a viewing, they may be interested in doing some research and finding a funeral provider that provides a package without those services.  

We encourage you to be aware of their rights around funeral services and take your time to decide on a funeral provider and plan that best meets your needs and budget. When planning a funeral, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a funeral home, they are happy to answer any questions. If you want to find out more about your rights, visit our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.

Did you like this? You might like these posts too!

Do you need a container when you are cremated?
Selecting a coffin or an urn – know your rights
What can be done with my ashes when I die?
Can I be buried on the family farm?
Steps to take following a death
Writing your will
Have you had “the talk”? Steps to take & 5 tips about funeral services
Cemetery and funeral services: do you know your rights?

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.