Pre-arranged Funeral Contracts

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If you want a certain kind of funeral or to save your loved ones the trouble of organizing your funeral, you can buy funeral services in advance. This is what’s called “pre-arranged funeral services” or “pre-arranged funerals”.


Two Contracts

Pre-arranged funerals consist of two contracts. 

1. The Funeral Services Contract

This contract mentions the funeral services that will be provided at the time of death. It can include the purchase of goods, such as a coffin, urn or headstone, or services, such as embalming, cremation, a religious ceremony, etc. 

 2. The Sepulture Contract 

This contract is for the purchase or maintenance of a sepulture, that is, the place where the body or ashes will be deposited. This could be, for example, a cemetery plot, columbarium or mausoleum.


Content and Copies of the Contracts

The two contracts must contain this information:

  • names and addresses of the following people and companies:
    • the funeral services company
    • the company’s representative
    • the buyer
    • the person to whom the seller of the goods or services must give a copy of the contract
  • contract number and date of signature
  • description of each item and service purchased, including taxes
  • method and terms of payment
  • rules on the collection and management of  money paid to the funeral services company, for example, where the sums will be deposited, who will receive the interest, etc.
  • rules for cancelling the contract

The funeral services company must give the buyer a copy of the contracts. The company must also send a copy to a person chosen by the buyer within 10 days of signature, unless the buyer says in writing that this is not necessary.

If the contract does not contain the information required by law and the missing information causes you real harm, you can ask a court to cancel the contract.


Management of Money Paid in Advance

The funeral services company must keep 90% of the money you paid in a trust account, which is a special separate account. It must deposit the money in this account no later than 45 days after you make your payment. However, money paid for goods and services already been delivered or performed do not have to be kept in this account.

Within 30 days of the deposit, the financial institution that keeps the money will notify you, in writing, of the date and amount of the deposit.

Money deposited in a trust account cannot be withdrawn by the funeral services company for its own use. Even if the company goes bankrupt, the money will be kept separate.

But the funeral services company can keep the interest on money deposited to compensate for inflation. The company cannot ask for any more money at the time of death, even if prices have increased. 


Cancelling a Pre-arranged Funeral Contract

Whether a pre-arranged funeral contract can be cancelled, with or without a penalty, depends on the type of contract, the place where it was made and the time that has passed since the buyer got a copy of the contract.

The contract can be cancelled by sending the form attached to the contract to be cancelled, or by sending a written notice to the funeral services company or its representative stating that you want to cancel the contract.

Type of Contract Place Contract Was Solicited, Negotiated and Made Whether it Can Be Cancelled Penalty
Funeral Services At one of the funeral services company’s places of business Yes Maximum of 10% of the value of the goods and services not yet provided
Elsewhere Yes

No penalty for a cancellation done between 0 and 30 days from receipt of a copy of the contract

Afterwards: a maximum of the value of the goods and services not provided

Sepulture At one of the funeral services company’s places of business Only by agreement with the company Penalty mentioned in the contract
Elsewhere Yes: between 0 and 30 days from receipt of a copy of the contract  No penalty 
Afterwards : only by agreement  with the company Penalty mentioned in the contract

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.