Frequently Asked Questions

Below are questions that people frequently ask. General questions about our services, death and cremation and then frequently asked legal questions. Click on any below to view the answer.

Frequently Asked General Questions

Cremation is the process of applying heat to the body to reduce it to its basic elements, which are referred to as cremated remains. Cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes, they are, in fact, bone fragments. These fragments are then mechanically pulverized into minute particles and placed in a container. Only one person is cremated at a time.

The body must be enclosed in a casket or container made of wood or other combustible material It must be strong enough to assure the health and safety of those who must come in contact with it. The casket should meet minimum requirements for proper respect and consideration, and should be composed of a suitable material which is environmentally safe.

Our advise is to to place jewellry or other small items in the urn with cremated remains after the cremation is complete. Items may be placed in the container or casket prior to cremation providing these items pose no health and/or safety risk during cremation and are composed of materials that are environmentally safe. Personal items are not recoverable after the cremation.

We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is place a call to us at (519) 472-2200 or 1-877-472– 2204. If a death has occurred at home and you request immediate assistance, a funeral director will be there within the hour. You may wish to spend a short time with the person that has died to say good bye. Let us know and we will attend when your ready for us.

Embalming provides preservative and cosmetic value. Generally, if there is no viewing, ;or a reasonable length of time to cremation is anticipated then embalming is not necessary.

Often the repatriation of the deceased person from another country, health, and religious beliefs might make embalming prior to cremation either appropriate or necessary.

There are no regulations. When no urn is purchased, the cremated remains are returned in a black plastic box that is acceptable for burial if you do not choose an urn .

Every cemetery has its own by-laws. Contact the cemetery office for details.

Cremation is not a disposition. It is a method of preparing the remains for memorialization. Cremated remains can be scattered, intered in a plot or a niche in a columbarium in a cemetery.

Scattering cremated remains is allowed on your own property or crown land. However, keep in mind that a favorite place today may change ownership and development may take place. A dedicated place within a cemetery assures the site chosen will not be developed for other use at some future time. A scattering garden is available in Mount Pleasant or Woodland Cemetery.

The basic charge for cremation is somewhat less than traditional burial. However, with so many service options available to the family in the funeral services and in the mode of disposition, it’s not possible to make an accurate comparison. You have the option to select as much or as little as you wish. With cremation you have more options.

Yes. In recent years cremation has been increasing steadily in both the United States and Canada. Cremation is accepted by followers of most religious faiths today. Some people view cremation as a way of simplifying their funeral process and thus choose cremation to make their services as simple as possible.Yet another environmental concern, of sorts, is that traditional burial takes up a great deal of space.

Yes. Discuss your wishes and the needs to your family. It will make the decision making process easier at the time of death. Pre-arranging is a free, convenient service that we offer. If you wish to prepay, we have many guaranteed pre-payment options to freeze the cost.

Certain steps you should take in advance:

1. Make your wishes known to your family. Your Will is usually not read until after the funeral so don’t leave important funeral related information only in your will.

2. Consult with Ontario Cremation Services about arrangements than can be made in advance.

Frequently Asked Legal Questions

The executor is responsible for compiling an inventory all of your property at the time of your death, determining all your outstanding debts, paying all of your legitimate debts and then distributing the remaining property in accordance with the instructions provided in your Will. The executor is appointed as part of the probate proceeding and has the responsibility for guiding your property through the proceeding, subject to established probate rules and procedures. In many areas, the court has a considerable amount of control over the activities of the executor, and prior permission of the court is required for the executor to take action with respect to property in the probate estate. The executor also has full responsibility with regards to your funeral arrangements and could change those arrangements if he/she wants to. We take direction from the executor. If the executor is not available or there is no Will then the next of kin is responsible. Since your executor is given access to all property in the probate estate, the selection of a competent and trustworthy person is very important. It is wise to nominate someone who you trust implicitly to serve as your executor. Probably the most important qualification for an executor is to ensure that the person will follow through the obligations under the terms of the will. Some jurisdictions state that an executor must live in the same province. In addition to all out-of-pocket expenses in managing and settling the estate, executors generally earn a fee of about 2% of the value of the estate for their work. All fees and reimbursed expenses are subject to court approval. If a person is both the sole beneficiary and executor of the estate, and the estate is not subject to Federal Estate Tax, it usually does not make sense to take any fees as all fee income is subject to Income Tax.

If an executor chooses to serve as executor, he may later resign and provide an accounting of what has been accomplished so far. The alternate executor named in the Will typically is then appointed by the probate court. If no alternate is named in the Will, or the named alternates die or are unwilling to serve, or a person dies without a Will, the probate court will appoint someone to serve. Often an accountant, financial advisor, or lawyer is also nominated as a second executor. This joint executor ensures that there is a solid degree of competence and experience which is especially important if there are substantial assets involved or Trusts to be administered.

Before the business and legal issues of the estate can be pursued, it will be necessary to ensure that you obtained Proofs of Death from Ontario Cremation Services. A Proof of Death signed and sealed by us is a legal document that is accepted by most institutions in the province. We provide each executor or next-of-kin as many as is required to settle the estate. Most agencies will only accept originals and not photocopies, but once they have seen an original, many will make a photocopy for their records. These certificates are used to transfer the title on a house, automobile, and bank accounts, applying for insurance, pension, cancelling health, social insurance, telephone and cable tv or rental agreements. A Certified copy of the Medical Certificate should only be required when there are holdings outside of the province or country, a large insurance policy, transporting cremated remains or a body out of province. There is a small fee to obtain this document and it could take up to 8 weeks. Ontario Cremation Services can provide you with the application if necessary.

There is currently no law that requires the use of a lawyer; however probate is a procedure that requires systematic applications and cancelations. This may lead to frustration and can cause everything to come to a grinding halt or expose you to liability. Consider this to be a very emotional time and to add the burden of estate settlement can be overwhelming. A lawyer can be a neutral voice to deal with and remove any opportunity for family confrontation. Minor matters, or any delays or inconveniences can be upsetting, pose issues of fairness, and create unfounded tension among family members. If you choose to do it yourself, most of all keep in mind that while it is important to take care of all of these activities, it’s more important to move slowly at a pace that is comfortable for you. At first it may appear overwhelming. Sorting through all the details may be confusing because many of the terms are unfamiliar.

Banks are subject to both provincial and federal regulations; procedures can vary greatly from bank to bank and province to province. Some banks have been known to automatically freeze joint bank accounts when one of the joint owners dies. To avoid problems, contact your bank directly to learn the procedures. Keep in mind that, whatever the procedure may be, it is there to protect you. Your first visit to the bank upon death should be with a Proof of Death Certificate and a copy of the Will indicating that you are the executor.

A Will is a document that is created to direct the distribution of assets at the time of death. A Will may also name a guardian to care for young children if something was to happen to both parents. Most people are aware that a will is of great importance, but the majority, about 70%, don’t have one. People procrastinate for many reasons, but it’s important to know that writing a Will doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Once a Will is completed, there is a better chance that wishes will be carried out upon death.

Without a Will, a person dies intestate. Property must go through a probate process in order to have the legal title to property changed. Provincial legislation regulates the distribution of personal property and these regulations have many variations for determining who gets property distributed from an intestate estate. An example of an intestate estate distribution rule: If married, the spouse will receive 100%, but only one-third or one-half, as children, parents, and any issue of children or parents, can share in the distribution. – If unmarried (this includes widows and widowers), the property may be distributed to relatives in the following order:

  1.  All to your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc., if there are any. If none, then
  2. All to your parents (equally), or to the surviving parent, if any. If none, then
  3. All to the issue of your parents (your brothers and sisters, then your nieces and nephews, etc). If none, then
  4. All to your grandparents (equally) or the surviving grandparent, or the issue of your grandparents (your aunts and uncles, then your cousins, etc.). If none, then
  5. All to the issue of any predeceased spouse (your step-children). If none, then
  6. All to your next of kin. If none, then
  7. All to the parents of a predeceased spouse (your mother- and father-in-law), or the issue of the parents of the deceased spouse (your brothers- or sisters-in law).

A will that will accomplish what it’s intended to do isn’t nearly as complicated as many people fear. Here are just a few simple rules.

  1.   Age: To make a Will, you must either be at least 18, or an “emancipated” minor.
  2. Mental State: You must be of “sound mind” to make a valid will. The standard interpretations require that you: Know what a Will is and that you’re making one; understand the relationship between yourself and those persons who you would normally provide for, such as a spouse or children; understand what you own and be able to decide how to distribute your property.

It is better to have a Will drafted with the assistance of a lawyer. A Will rarely involves complicated legal rules and most people are capable of drafting their own Will with the help of a legal Will kit. You just need to know what your assets are, who your beneficiaries are, and a good resource to guide you like a legal Will kit. However, if questions are left unanswered by the resource you’re relying on, a lawyer’s services are recommended.

The following are a few requirements for a Will to be legal: • The Will must be typewritten or computer generated. In some cases, A legal Will kit may allow a handwritten Will to be acceptable.

  • The document must expressly state that it’s your will.
  • You must date and sign the will.
  • The will must be signed by at least two witnesses. They must watch you sign the will, though they don’t need to read it. Your witnesses must be people who won’t inherit anything under the will.
  • You don’t have to have your will notarized. In many locales, though, if you and your witnesses sign an affidavit (sworn statement) before a notary public, you can help simplify the court procedures required to prove the validity of the will after you die.

A will doesn’t need to be recorded or filed with any government agency. Keep it in a safe place and be sure the executor or your family know where it is. Wills are generally kept by the law firm that prepared the Will or in the home of the person who made the Will. Most law firms that hold the Will keep the Will in safe keeping free of charge. The Will can be picked up by the executor upon your death. Keep in mind that a Will at a residence is susceptible to theft, fire, or misplacement. Keep the Will in any other secure place and ensure that your executor is aware of its location.

Challenges to invalidate or contest a Will are usually by potential heirs or beneficiaries who got little or nothing. Questions on the validity of a Will must be filed in probate court within a certain number of days after receiving notice of the death or petition to admit the Will to probate. Typical objections:

  1. The will was not properly drawn, signed or witnessed, according to formal requirements.
  2. The decedent lacked mental capacity at the time the Will was executed.
  3. There was fraud, force or undue influence.
  4. The will was a forgery. If the Will is held invalid, the probate court may invalidate all provisions or only the challenged portion. If the entire Will is considered invalid, then generally the assets are distributed under laws of intestacy. Needless to say, if there is even the possibility of a Will contest, then you will be required to consult with an experienced probate lawyer.

A guardian should be in place if there are young children. This is someone capable and willing to raise them in the event that the parents can‘t. A Will can include the name of a person to be the personal guardian. In the event that no one is mentioned in the Will, a court must step in to appoint a guardian. In this case anyone who is interested can ask for the guardianship. The judge then must decide, without the benefit of a parents opinion, which person will do the best job of raising children.

Relay information about children with special needs to your lawyer. A Trust Fund often addresses the setting aside of a sum of money to sufficiently care for a child. After the payment of all debts, the Trustee who is appointed in the Will to receive funds will be directed to use a certain amount of money from the Estate for the “special needs” person. It is very important when a Trust Fund is established in a Will that you receive competent legal advice. The amount of the Trust Fund may be large if the child is to be looked after for an extended period of time. You must be sure that the Trustee is not only trustworthy but of a reasonable age to care for the child for an extended period. As an alternative, the Trust may have a provision for the replacement or addition of other trustees over time.