Protect Funeral Wishes in Wills

Estate trustees could overturn a loved one’s funeral plans unless they take the extra steps needed to protect their final wishes. Talk to your family today about confirming funeral arrangements in writing. 

Why leave close family and friends gravely disappointed when you could plan a funeral their estate can afford? Axess Law includes brief funeral instructions when we prepare a basic Will — we pioneered video calls for Wills.

Our Wills lawyers charge far less than traditional legal services. Loved ones get what they want, without the added cost they would pay other law firms. When you’re worried about estate wealth, we help your family save on making a legal Will in Ontario.


Burial Costs in the GTA

Every little bit helps. Before your family member gets too carried away with planning a traditional exit, remember their estate will be paying for it. 

Joining insulin discoverer Sir Frederick Banting in Mississauga’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery may cost as much as $33,000. That doesn’t include the casket, vault cover, their final attire and funeral director fees. 

Average funerals cost Ontarians between $20,000 and $50,000 for: 

a burial plot or columbarium

casket or urn

funeral home charges

going-away outfit

flowers at the service and gravesite


lunch or reception

honorariums for the service.


Respecting Their Final Wishes

Don’t despair if next-of-kin plan a grand funeral but their estate is modest. You may qualify for death benefits to offset the cost. 

Besides, funeral instructions in Wills in Ontario are not legally binding. Personal representatives or estate trustees are responsible only for administering the estate according to the resources available to them. (Our probate lawyers explain your role.) 

Executors are wise to ask the family for their consent before proceeding. A less extravagant funeral may be fine if it means the estate can pay outstanding taxes, settle debts, compensate the executor and have left over residue for family. 


Taking an Estate Trustee to Court 

In a serious dispute, beneficiaries can take an executor to court. 

Courts are reluctant to interfere in a deceased’s final wishes, but they may side with the family when an executor has been reckless with the money. It is up to an Ontario court to decide if an estate trustee has overspent. 

Estate trustees are personally liable for their decisions. If investments aren’t performing as well as when the Will was written, the executor’s role is to exercise restraint before making financial commitments on the deceased’s behalf. (Read How to Settle a Small Estate for probate advice.)


Protecting Funeral Plans in a Will

Pre-paying for a funeral can take the burden off the estate trustee. Consider adding a memorandum or annex to a Will stating how your loved one wants their funeral organized. Setting limits on how much an executor can spend clears up potential disputes and makes  decisions easier.


What Happens If You Can’t Afford a Funeral in Canada

From getting the death certificate to transportation, pre-casket preparations, holding a memorial service, family receptions and buying a plot or cremation urn, you can expect the high cost of dying in Ontario to keep going up. 

Here’s what to do if the cost is too much for you. 


Burial vs Cremation in Ontario

Over 60% of deceased Ontarians are taking another path.

Just over 40% of those who choose cremation cite the cost compared to a formal burial with graveside prayers and polished wooden casket (cardboard for the environmentally sensitive).

A niche of your own is $5,435 and up at Mount Pleasant. Scattering grounds rights start at $1,760. GTA (Greater Toronto Area) burial and cremation services like Affordable and Aftercare charge about $1,500 to $2,000 for simple cremation plans.

A word to the wise: check local bylaws before scattering ashes outside cemeteries or a crematorium. Gathering at the seaside or in a park for an informal goodbye may not be legal.

And some religions insist on burial to allow for resurrection and show respect for the dead.  


Funeral Relief for Canadian Military

Depending on your loved one’s final wishes, serving military may qualify for a Department of National Defence (DND) paid civilian or official funeral. Estate trustees are responsible for the arrangements. The DND will pay just around $15,000, adjusted annually for cost of living increases, for funeral and burial expenses. The estate pays the rest. 

A temporary wooden marker with the deceased’s service number, rank, initials, surname, branch or regiment, date of death and age can be provided until a DND gravestone is ready. Or you can buy a private gravestone.


Government Funeral Assistance (Ontario)

When there is no estate, Ontario Works may cover the funeral expenses, even if the deceased didn’t receive social assistance from that agency or other government programs. Apply through your local Ontario Works office, but inform the funeral home before you make plans or sign any contracts. Wait until Ontario Works approves your application to ask the funeral home to “waive the contract” for a social assistance funeral.


Funeral Home Arranged Funding 

When your loved one received an Ontario Works or Ontario Disability cheque or Assistance for Children with Severe Disability, tell the funeral director you want a social assistance funded funeral. The funeral home will contact the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services for approval. 

The Ontario government typically pays for modest funeral and burial or cremation costs. That includes a grave marker and perpetual care costs, but not a tombstone. The final costs may come out of CPP or OAS benefits for survivors or any estate residue your next-of-kin may have had. 


Who Pays for the Lost or Homeless

Ontario municipalities pay millions a year for funerals for transients, when coroners can’t identify a body or the deceased goes unclaimed in hospital or long-term care. Local agencies prepare and transport the bodies and arrange the funeral and burial or cremation.


Probate an Ontario Estate With or Without Wills

If you’ve been appointed estate trustee by an Ontario court, Axess Law’s probate lawyers can give you legal advice on how to distribute the estate with or without a Will. (See common questions we get about what is probate.)

Use our convenient online video calling to speak directly with licensed probate lawyers near you at our Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa locations. Make a virtual lawyer or in person appointment by calling toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or our 647-479-0118 lawyer line in Toronto. Our online booking form is easy to use — it takes just minutes of your time.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s probate law services.