Funeral, burial, cremation, alkaline hydrolysis or scattering: your rights
Learn about your rights when planning a funeral, burial, alkaline hydrolysis, cremation or scattering.
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Under the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, you have certain rights when planning a funeral, burial, cremation, alkaline hydrolysis or scattering.
By law, cemetery, crematorium, alternative disposition funeral establishment and transfer service operators must be licensed.
To learn more about your rights, read the Consumer Information Guide: A Guide to Death Care in Ontario.
If you have questions or need to file a complaint against a service provider, contact the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.
To help you comparison shop, service providers must give you a price list of all the supplies and services they sell before a contract is made.
Service providers also need to tell you about certain business arrangements if they will benefit from recommending something to you or selling you a particular supply or service.
For example, they must tell you about any commission or benefits paid to them if you choose a particular florist shop. The service provider must also tell you if the owner of the business also owns another bereavement-related business within 100 kilometres.
After signing a contract for funeral, cemetery, cremation or alkaline hydrolysis supplies or services, you have 30 days to change your mind and get a full refund.
You may not be entitled to a refund for supplies and services that have been delivered at the time you cancel.
You may cancel after 30 days but a cancellation fee may apply. The cancellation fee cannot be more than 10% of the cost of the contract or up to a maximum of $350.
Guaranteed prepaid contracts
As of July 1, 2012, prepaid contracts are guaranteed. This means a service provider must supply everything specified in your contract when you need it without additional charges, even if prices have gone up.
If you tell a funeral, cemetery, crematorium or alternative disposition operator provider that you need material in an accessible format (for example, large print or audio format) it must be made available to you at no extra cost.
You have a right to ask the Bereavement Authority of Ontario if disciplinary actions have ever been taken against a bereavement-related business or its employees and if their licences are in good standing.
If you believe you have not been treated fairly by a licensed bereavement service provider, contact the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.
You may purchase interment rights to place human remains, (including from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis) in a grave, crypt or niche.
Cemetery operators do not sell the land but sell rights to be buried in a grave/ lot or plot. A plot is more than 1 grave/lot that is sold as a unit.
Some cemeteries also sell scattering rights — the rights to scatter remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis on a scattering ground in a cemetery. You also have the right to scatter remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis in other locations, but there are some restrictions.
Reselling interment rights
You have the right to resell your unused interment or scattering rights if the by-laws of the cemetery do not prohibit the resale.
If you can sell
If a cemetery’s by-laws do not prohibit you from reselling your interment rights, you are free to sell unused rights to a third party.
Only operators licensed under the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act are allowed to purchase interment or scattering rights with the intention of reselling them. This makes it easier for consumers to deal with one provider for all of their needs.
You cannot resell them for more than the market value on the price list for the cemetery. You must contact the cemetery before selling to or buying from a third party and the transfer of the rights must be done through the cemetery operator.
The cemetery operator will verify that the seller is in fact the interment rights holder, update the public register and issue a new interment rights certificate. Cemetery operators may charge an administrative fee for this service.
If you can’t sell
If the cemetery by-laws do not allow you to resell the rights directly, you may still have a right to cancel your contract. The cemetery is then required to refund an amount equal to the market price (not including any amount that was paid into the care and maintenance fund or account).
Cemeteries are not required to repurchase interment rights for an unused grave or lot that is located in a plot where one or more of the graves or lots have already been used.
Before signing a contract, always:
- make sure you are dealing with a licensed service provider (ask to see proof of their licence)
- review the service provider’s price list to make choices you can afford
- review the cemetery or crematorium or alternative disposition operator’s by-laws
- make sure the contract sets out the things you have agreed to buy or rent, such as:
- services, facilities and vehicles
- a casket, urn, vault, grave, crypt or niche and monument
- any other payments (for newspaper notices, police escorts, honorariums for religious officials, etc.)
- make sure the contract includes the taxes to be paid
- ask if the service provider is receiving any commission or benefit from other parties they’ve recommended to you
For your contract to be valid, both you and the service provider must sign it. Make sure you get a copy of the contract after it is signed.
Free copies of the Consumer Information Guide to Funerals, Burials and Cremation Services are available at cemeteries, crematoriums, funeral establishments and transfer services in Ontario.
Questions or Complaints
Contact the Bereavement Authority of Ontario if you are inquiring about:
- funerals, burials, cremations, alkaline hydrolysis and/or neglected cemeteries
- interments, scattering of remains or alternative disposition of remains
- issues with a licensed bereavement service operator