What funeral assistance is available from the B.C. government?

When a loved one dies it is devastating, and dealing with funeral and burial costs is always a difficult time. In times of mourning, you may struggle with organizing and paying for the death proceedings. In these circumstances, you might be eligible for a funeral supplement. 

The British Columbia Government often helps to pay for funeral costs if they can’t be covered through the individual’s estate or family unit or there are no other resources available to cover this expense. These services are available to all residents of British Columbia if they meet the necessary requirements. 

If you want any additional information about these funeral assistance services, then read on, as we have outlined all the relevant information necessary for you in these difficult times. 

The expenses covered with the assistance fund include funeral provider’s service fees, casket or urn costs, cemetery or crematorium fees, burial plot costs, and funeral provider service fees. The funeral provider services include any bereavement rites or ceremonies, transportation of the deceased body (only within British Columbia), any costs when registering the death, the burial or cremation permit, and any counseling or coordination services. The fund also covers any costs when preparing the deceased body for burial or cremation, as well as any additional facilities and services required for the funeral. 

For the application, you need to include evidence that there are no resources for funeral or burial costs, which includes any resources available through the deceased estate, or their next-of-kin, or parent if the deceased was a minor. If the deceased was an immigrant, then you will need to prove that the deceased’s sponsor cannot cover the funeral or burial costs, or you will not be granted any assistance. 

If the deceased has a legal representative, they are eligible to apply for the supplement to cover funeral costs. These representatives are normally a relative, but if there is no eligible relative that can be a legal representative, the British Columbia government may make direct arrangements with the funeral home. 

As this supplement is a debt to the government, then the deceased estate may be used to pay for any services paid for by the assistance program.

The British Columbia government wants to ensure that every person in British Columbia is provided the basic respect and services required in the event of their death, despite the lack of funds from the deceased family or next of kin. If you are struggling to pay for the costs of the funeral of your loved one in British Columbia, then apply for the supplementary fund, and see if you meet the requirements. 

Contact us for questions and assistance. We’re available anytime to help.

Arranging a funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic

The past year has been a time of uncertainty and anxiety, and grieving a loved one during this period can only exasperate these feelings. However, you should feel as safe and secure as possible when planning a funeral or memorial service during the pandemic, so read on for some advice and guidance that will help you when grieving your loved one.

Throughout this pandemic, the importance of social distancing and reducing contact between individuals has been stressed time and time again. Everybody should be doing everything that they can to reduce any potential spread, and this is recommended for any funeral or memorial services you may be attending. 

Depending on the restrictions introduced by your government, you should always try to adhere to social distancing and masks wearing if there are any active coronavirus cases within your community. The higher the level of community transmission in your area, the more strict you should be with restrictions. If possible, you should also be avoiding any events held inside, so planning a memorial or wake in an outside area, or only in well ventilated indoor areas, would be preferable to reduce the risk of infection. 

You should also be practicing good hygiene wherever possible, so providing a lot of hand sanitizer, soap, multi-surface spray, and tissues at any events you plan is recommended. Making sure you disinfect anything you or anyone else touches reduces the number of infectious bacteria in any shared spaces, creating a safer environment for everyone around you. 

Additionally, a common practice during the past year for any events is to hold them on a virtual platform instead of in person. Whilst not ideal, having a virtual funeral or memorial will reduce the chances of infection to zero and will protect all of the deceased loved ones completely. With modern technology, it has become easier and easier to socialize and hold events online, and this would be an ideal setting for anyone who is high risk or lives in an area with a lot of infections. 

Another alternative to the traditional memorial services is having multiple, smaller gatherings for your loved one, to reduce any increased exposure. 

Grief is complex and often vast, and grieving during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of additional stress, sadness, and difficulty for loved ones. Being unable to grieve in traditional and normal ways can cause a lot of distress to individuals, but there are still safe and low-risk ways you can reach out and seek as much support as you require.

Whether the deceased loved ones’ are gathering virtually, or with restricted and socially distanced services, staying safe should be the priority. However, whilst the bereavement process should be altered to ensure it is as low-risk as possible, paying your respects is still possible, and encouraged, during these difficult times. If planning a funeral or memorial service, following the advice in this article will protect you and your loved ones as much as possible. 

At Alternatives, we can help you plan a COVID-friendly gathering. Please call us anytime and we can discuss options.

Do I need to buy a casket for the cremation of my loved one?

When preparing for the funeral of a loved one, there are a lot of things to plan for, and a lot of difficult decisions to be made. One question everyone must consider is whether they want a burial or cremation.

cremation casket for cremation
A coffin with a flower arrangement

If opting for cremation in Vancouver, you may be wondering about the process, and one of the biggest questions asked is whether you even need a casket for your loved one’s cremation.

The short answer is no. However, all bodies, when being cremated, must be in a container that is sturdy and fully combustible. This does not necessarily mean a casket or a coffin is required, and any sturdy container that can be burned is acceptable.

An appropriate container is completely mandatory to meet the requirements of all crematoriums, as there are multiple different safety considerations to keep in mind.

First and foremost, the container protects the deceased during the entire process, from the transfer to the crematorium until the final cremation. It also protects the workers of the crematorium, enabling them to work safely, as well as allowing both the deceased and the worker as much dignity as possible.

However, a sturdy container does not always mean a casket is your only option. A lot of caskets are expensive, and for the environmentally conscious they aren’t always the best option available.

Whilst a lot of people use caskets for both the funeral service and cremation, some companies will allow you to rent a casket just for the funeral service, and you can use a different, less expensive, or more environmentally friendly container for the cremation.

However, choosing between the different containers is a process within itself. There are a lot of different options to consider when choosing which container to use for your loved ones, and we will be outlining all the different strengths and weaknesses with each available option.

There are many different options for renting out caskets, and renting allows you to choose a casket that, if buying, would be too expensive or otherwise inaccessible to you and your family. Renting a casket does not provide any hygiene risks either, as the deceased will be placed inside a removable wooden box within the casket, and will be removed for the cremation after the funeral.

Opting for a cardboard or wooden cremation container is becoming a very popular option when choosing cremation. It is the most environmentally-friendly choice, and all the caskets are fully combustible and suitable for your deceased loved one.

Additionally, many cardboard or wooden containers can be designed to look like a traditional casket or coffin, eliminating the need to rent a casket for the funeral whilst also saving you the extra cost of buying a casket outright.

Cardboard and wooden containers are much more environmentally friendly, and this option ensures that there are no wasted resources or trees when not entirely necessary. It is a completely natural material that won’t add any pollution to the earth or air, whilst also being extremely durable and appropriate for both the funeral and cremation processes.

Additionally, with cardboard or wooden containers loved ones are fully permitted and encouraged to include personal items to accompany their loved ones, as long as they are fully combustible.

The biggest benefit to using a cardboard or wooden container for most people is the money saved, as many caskets can cost from $5,000 up to $10,000 if buying them outright. You can spend thousands of dollars less when opting out of using a casket. The use of a affordable, more environmentally-friendly, and also recycled material for the cremation container makes for a much cheaper option.

However, if you choose to use a casket for both the funeral and cremation then that is also perfectly fine. Ultimately, you can choose whatever you are most comfortable with, and this process should be easy, dignified, and considerate for both the deceased and their loved ones.

Preparing your estate before you die – for your executor

Everybody who dies needs an executor of their estate, which can be seen as an honor, but also a very complicated and high-pressure task. You should choose the executor of your state carefully, picking someone you trust and care about, but you should also make sure their job is as stress-free and straightforward as possible. 

More often than not, the executor of your estate is someone who is close to you and cares for you a great deal. This is the person likely to be grieving the most after you die, and you should do everything in your power to make sure that their role is easy to act out. 

One of the most important things you must do to prepare for your death is to make a Will. Making sure there is a document that can be referred to when organizing your funeral and passing on your estate will make the end of your life much easier and stress-free for both you and your loved ones. Your Will is also a great way to show your friends and family how much they mean to you, by leaving them important keepsakes and messages that mean a lot to them. 

After you compile your Will, this is also a great moment to make sure all of your documents are together in one safe space. Having all the required information for any relevant accounts and certificates, such as your bank accounts, death certificate, or pension account, makes it much simpler to organize any post-life finances and personnel. 

Additionally, having a list of all your assets will make it a lot easier for your executor to assess the value of your estate, as well as knowing who exactly you want to bequeath each asset to. This also reduces any potential arguments or disagreements of who your valuables, jewelry, heirlooms, real estate, etc., will be given to. 

If you have underage children, then preparing your estate is vital. You need to outline who you want to take guardianship over your children in the event of your death, or else they might end up living somewhere you never intended. This also ensures that they are financially taken care of, and they don’t need to worry about any expenses. 

When you pass, there is no such thing as too much information. Your executor, family, and friends will be grateful for anything you leave behind to help them, especially if you include any sentimental instructions or letters. Keeping your memory alive will bring comfort and relief to anyone mourning your death, and anything that makes your demise as easy as possible is preferable. 

Make sure that your estate and documents are prepared and organized before your passing, and if you need any additional help in what exactly you need to arrange then multiple different companies have all the appropriate experience and expertise you need. 

At Alternatives, we can gladly answer any questions about wills and estates.