the real/estate blog

Have a coffee with your discussion of dying

Posted in End of Life Care,Estate Planning,Funeral planning by Cesia Green on July 9, 2013
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Have you ever heard of aCoffee shop death café?

Neither had I, until I read this article at the Globe and Mail last week. Basically, they are informal gatherings – sometimes at coffee shops, sometimes in people’s homes – where a small group can get together, enjoy tea and sweets, and discuss anything and everything related to death and dying. From having a green funeral, to fears about dying alone, to questions about organ donation. Nothing is off the table, and participants are able to have their questions answered in a non-judgemental and relaxed environment.

If you heard about a Death Café in your city, would you attend?


Making funeral planning easier

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning by Cesia Green on November 6, 2012

Back in June, I wrote a post called “Can you afford to die?” After publishing it, I was contacted by Sandra Bento from the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services, who offered me a great deal of information on what the provincial government is doing to assist Ontarians with funeral planning. Unfortunately, real estate got busy and the email got buried in my inbox, and I did not follow up with a post about this as I had intended to do. With a few quiet days last week, however, I rediscovered her email and thought it would be a good time to follow up and write that post.

In a nutshell, there is a new law that came into effect in July called the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002. (Yes, it just came into effect. It’s the way of laws to be outdated in name before they even start. In this case, it was updated from an earlier law.) The changes are designed to provide more transparency in planning a funeral, including for pre-planning. You must be provided with certain pricing information and documentation, prepaid contracts must be guaranteed, and you have the right to both cancel within 30 days at a full refund and re-sell interment rights (at least to the cemetery), among other points.

Preplanning a funeral can bring a lot of relief to a loved one, as they will know that the funeral is exactly how you would have wanted it. These changes will make it easier to be sure that your plan will go into place the way you want it.

Protect your assets – and your body

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning,Intestacy by Cesia Green on September 25, 2012

It’s a very poorly known fact, but in Ontario, your executor becomes the owner of your body at the moment of your death.

Morbid, yes. But that is how it is here.

I speak to so many people who don’t see the need to have their wills done because they don’t have anything, or because everything is joint, or because they just don’t see any urgency to something that won’t affect them for decades. If protecting your assets from taxes, inappropriate relatives, or minor children isn’t enough, think about Sherman Hemsley: the actor and star of The Jeffersons died in July and still isn’t buried because of a fight over his estate.

Choosing the proper executor also means a say in how – and when – you are buried.

Can you afford to die?

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning by Cesia Green on June 26, 2012
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I came across this fascinating, if a bit morbid, infographic today. Essentially, it strips funeral, cremation and other burial services down to their basic costs. I think what I found most interesting was the extreme rise in funeral costs from an average of $709 in 1960 to $6,560 in 2009 (all figures in USD but likely can be generalized to Canada).

There is a lot of very interesting stuff in there, and I would highly recommend taking a look through it. From unusual ways to be buried (turned into fireworks?) to some very relevant tips on having proper documents in place, it’s a very informative read on the state of the funeral industry in North America.

Time for some economy

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning by Cesia Green on March 27, 2012
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The New York Times published an article a little while ago about how the economic downturn has led to a rise in less expensive burial options. According to the Times, cremation has moved from almost nonexistent 50 years ago to the norm, encompassing over 40% of all burials in the United States (according to the article, this is somewhat lower than in Canada). The recession is hitting everywhere – including the funeral home.

Tax breaks for space burials

Posted in Funeral planning,Just for fun,Tax by Cesia Green on January 24, 2012
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Here’s a new one: the state of Virginia is considering offering a tax break for anyone who agrees to have their cremated remains sent into space.

The state is looking to increase revenues for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, and is considering tax breaks as a means to encourage people to use it as a burial method. Joining the ranks of Timothy Leary and James Doohan could end up saving you money.

You can read the LA Times article about it here.

This tech startup is deadly

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning,Miscellaneous by Cesia Green on September 27, 2011

Gerry Beyer at the Wills, Trusts and Estates Prof Blog posted last week about a very intriguing new tech startup: I-Postmortem.

I-Postmortem runs two services. The first, I-Tomb, costs $50 annually, and lets you create a virtual cemetery. You can upload photos, videos, etc., and create a multimedia memorial online. You can visit I-Tomb now and see the various “gravesites” that have been created.

I-Memorial, on the other hand, lets you create your own virtual memorial, including organizing messages for your loved ones for after you die. You can include funeral and burial instructions, and upload information on insurance policies and investments. This package costs $120 per year.

For those who like to plan, or who have far-flung families, these can be very valid options. Provide you can get over the squeamishness of them.

Human art

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning by Cesia Green on July 12, 2011

I have blogged before on various ways you can have your body dealt with after death. Here’s a new one: mixed with pigments and turned into art. Wayne Gilbert is an artist who took abandoned cremains and used them to create paintings.

The San Antonio Current published an article a little while back on Gilbert’s work, including a discussion of the almost blasé attitude he took toward using these materials for his art. You can see a full portfolio of Gilbert’s paintings at his own website.

Personally, if I were cremated I think I would prefer to be made into fireworks.

Ashes: not just for lakes and mountains any more

Posted in Estate Planning,Funeral planning by Cesia Green on November 9, 2010

The “Mental Floss” blog posted an interesting article a little while back called “Oh, the places your ashes will go!” As it turns out, there are many ways that people have arranged for a more unusual final resting place: mixed into ink and used to illustrate a comic book; mixed into fireworks; mixed into the plastic on a Frisbee; and into space. Some options that anyone can order (for a fee)? Have your ashes turned into an ocean reef or made into a diamond. These days, there are infinite possibilities for ensuring your memory lives on.