FUNERALS AND SPENDING: IT’S YOUR CHOICE By April M. Forsberg Most of us have been to more than a few funerals, and may have to plan one in the future. The process can get confusing if you fall victim to funeral hype or limit your information sources. Luckily there is an unbiased source of planning information well worth looking into. There is a modest membership fee, but no strings attached, and no self-serving sales pitch. That was my introduction to the Funeral Information Society of Ottawa (FISO), which makes planning a funeral extremely easy and worry-free. With about 3,000 members, FISO dispenses unbiased information about the death industry in Ontario. The aim is to help members plan simple, dignified funerals at a cost they choose themselves. FISO members are privy to current financial information relating to actual funeral provider services and related charges. Your best intentions – and those of the deceased - can be wrung out of shape when under the stress of grief. FISO steps you through the planning procedure: logically and without overwhelming emotion. The details and financial options are entirely up to you. Preplanning of funeral arrangements is the only way to ensure your wishes are carried out. The process begins with you sitting down with a family member or good friend to decide what YOU want, and get your wishes on to the funeral pre- arrangement forms provided with your membership. This is not a legal document, and can be changed at any time, with a simple phone call. Once your wishes are decided, several options are open for consideration, with current related costs revealed up front. There is no pressure, no hurry, and no obligation. This helps avoid over-doing costly details, the possible embarrassment of asking, “How much is that?” or succumbing to purchase pressure at time of grief. Best of all, the pre-planning process relieves your survivors of having to wonder, ‘Did we do the right thing?’ It’s important to remember that we all leave a paper trail through life, and it is correctly completed paperwork that paves the way for a worry-free exit. Part of FISO’s service to members is helping to provide necessary information to comply with the Vital Statistics Act – in other words, documenting who you say you are. It’s not complicated, but must be done before a funeral can proceed. Members are guided step by step through the documentation process. A single phone call will satisfy any questions you have about FISO its dealings and options – including consideration of lower-cost options – and frank, honest and unbiased answers. Where to start? Go to, email or call (613) 828-4926. Membership has its privileges. Saving part of your inheritance by being pre-informed is one of the best. As in all-important things in life, and death, “It’s your choice.” In addition, speakers are available, free of charge, for presentations to service clubs and other organizations. April M Forsberg is a FISO board member and former advertising/marketing writer. This article was first published in English and French, in the Spring 2011 issue of ON GUARD. A newsletter produced by the Ottawa Branch of the National Association of Federal Retirees. From The Toronto Star May 2014 When a person dies, expenses can quickly start adding up: hiring a funeral director and staff, transporting and storing the body, paying fees for administrative paperwork and a proof of death certificate. High-end mahogany caskets can cost more than $10,000, and the concrete burial vault it sits in can cost more than $3,000. Ontario’s Board of Funeral Services, which regulates all funeral homes in the province, pegs the average cost of a service at about $4,500, plus more than $2,000 for a casket and another $1,000 for the vault, according to 2012 data. That doesn’t usually include the cemetery plot, burial and headstone, says Doug Simpson, the registrar of the Board of Funeral Services. “So many thousands of dollars can be spent on a funeral, and we’d rather see that money go to our family and friends and favourite charities, instead of into a fancy pine box,” says Adamson, who is the chair of the board of trustees of the Toronto Memorial Society. Memorial societies have been encouraging simpler, lower-cost funerals for decades. Toronto’s chapter was founded in 1957. From The Ottawa Citizen November 5 2011 The Cost of Death