Funeral Costs

Overview

A supplement may be provided to pay necessary funeral costs of any person who dies in BC if the estate of the deceased person or any responsible person has no immediate resources to meet these costs. There is no requirement that the deceased person, or the person’s family, must be BC Employment and Assistance recipients to qualify for the supplement. Costs are to be recovered whenever possible.

This supplement is available under the Employment and Assistance Regulation. 

Policy

Effective:  November 8, 2013

Necessary funeral costs may be paid for persons who die in BC when no resources are available from the estate of the deceased person or from any of the responsible persons. If there are sufficient resources available to the responsible persons or from the estate, the ministry will not pay the funeral supplement. Co-funding may be considered when resources available to responsible persons or from the estate cannot pay the entire cost.

There is no requirement that the deceased person or the person’s family be BC Employment and Assistance recipients to qualify for the supplement.

Any funeral expenses paid by the ministry are a debt due to government and may be recovered by the ministry.

Ministry clients who were BCEA recipients immediately prior to their death, and who were temporarily outside of BC, but within Canada, may be eligible for a funeral supplement if prior approval is granted by the ministry.

The ministry does not pay for any funeral service costs that are incurred outside of BC if the deceased person was not a BCEA recipient. Funeral service costs for non-recipients may be paid if the body is transported back to BC at no cost to the ministry.

[For procedures to follow in determining eligibility for ministry assistance to pay funeral costs, see Procedures – Determining Eligibility for Funeral Costs.]

[For further details on the eligibility for funeral costs, see Additional Resources – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non Recipients.]

[For a checklist identifying benefits and services for survivors, see Additional Resources – BC Bereavement Checklist.]

Effective:  September 1, 2010

The legal representative, usually the nearest relative, is determined according to Section 5(1) of the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act, and is in the order listed below.
 

  1. the personal representative named in the will of the deceased;
  2. the spouse of the deceased;
  3. an adult child of the deceased;
  4. an adult grandchild of the deceased;
  5. if the deceased was a minor, a person who was a legal guardian of the person of the deceased at the date of death;
  6. a parent of the deceased;
  7. an adult sibling of the deceased;
  8. an adult nephew or niece of the deceased;
  9. an adult next of kin of the deceased, determined on the basis provided by sections 89 and 90 of the Estate Administration Act;
  10. the minister under the Employment and Assistance Act or, if the official administrator under the Estate Administration Act is administering the estate of the deceased under that Act, the official administrator;
  11. an adult person having a personal or kinship relationship with the deceased, other than those referred to in paragraphs (b) to (d) and (f) to (i).

If the person at the top of the order of priority is unavailable or unwilling to give instructions, the right to give instructions passes to the person who is next in priority.

If the right to control the disposition of human remains or cremated remains passes to persons of equal rank, the order of priority
 

  1. is determined in accordance with an agreement between or among them, or
  2. in the absence of an agreement begins with the eldest of the persons and descends in order of age.

The legal representative is responsible for making decisions (such as burial or cremation) related to the funeral arrangements and arranging for payment of the costs. If there are no relatives to assume this responsibility, ministry staff may assume the role and make arrangements for services and payment to the funeral home [see Policy – Disposition of Human and Cremated Remains].

The representative must first apply to the ministry to determine eligibility for payment of funeral services costs. Requests for payment of costs must come from the legal representative, not funeral service providers. Information required by the ministry includes all of the following:
 

  • name and address of the deceased
  • name of the next of kin
  • a statement of the deceased’s income and assets
  • a request to the ministry to cover funeral costs

Once eligibility for payment of funeral services costs has been established, arrangements can be made [see Policy – Eligibility Criteria and Procedures – Determining Eligibility for Funeral Costs]. The decision on how the deceased person’s remains are disposed is made by the legal representative. Once the decision regarding disposition is made by the legal representative, the ministry pays the necessary costs up to the maximum limits established by the ministry.

Effective:  September 1, 2010

Where the ministry has control of disposition as outlined in the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act (CIFSA), (a ministry staff member is the legal representative), the ministry will choose immediate disposition and cremation unless the rules, practices and beliefs respecting disposition held by people of the religious faith of the deceased are a factor, or the deceased has indicated a preference with respect to disposition as laid out in the CIFSA. [For information on what the ministry will pay for when cremation is chosen, see Policy, Cremation.]

If the ministry has control of the human remains and the deceased has expressed a written preference in a will or pre-need cemetery or funeral services contract respecting the disposition of his or her cremated remains as outlined in the CIFSA, then the ministry will fulfill the preference of the deceased in accordance with the CIFSA and ministry policy. Where the ministry has control and chooses cremation, the ministry will follow cremation policy. 

Effective:  April 1, 2010

Funeral Provider’s Basic Service Fee

Where eligibility for service has been established, whether burial or cremation is chosen, the ministry will pay a funeral provider’s basic service fee up to the amount shown in Rate Table: General Supplements - Funeral Costs - Funeral Provider’s Basic Service Fee. This basic fee covers the cost of an immediate disposition and must include, at a minimum, the following:
 

  • Transporting a deceased person's body 32 kilometres or less within British Columbia
  • Completing and filing the registration of death
  • Obtaining a burial or cremation permit
  • Professional and staff services including:
    • counselling and co-ordination with the legal representative of deceased
    • co-ordination with the crematorium and cemetery
  • Preparing a deceased person's body for burial or cremation including:
    • basic sanitary care, and
    • casketing
  • Use of facilities and equipment of a funeral provider including:
    • preparation room,
    • refrigeration,
    • parking, and
    • service areas
  • Transfer of the deceased from the funeral home to the cemetery or crematorium

Other Items or Services Fee
 

  • Other items or services that are in addition and incidental to the services provided under the basic service fee. These services must be requested by the family and agreed upon between the funeral services provider and the legal representative of the deceased:
    • co-ordination of bereavement rites and ceremonies,
    • attendance of staff for services and visitation,   
    • preparation of the deceased including embalming, dressing, hairdressing, and
    • use of a funeral home or chapel facilities and equipment for a memorial and funeral services

Not all of these items will be requested all of the time. The funeral services provider may charge up to the maximum amount shown in Rate Table: General Supplements – Funeral Costs - Other Items or Services Fee. These additional fees are to be itemized on the Funeral Services Billing form HR2817.

Note: In regions that have funeral services contracts, follow regional procedures.

Effective:  April 1, 2010

Where eligibility for service has been established, whether burial or cremation is chosen, the ministry will pay for transportation of the body within BC. For maximum transportation fees within BC, see Rate Table: General Supplements – Funeral Costs - Transportation Fee.

For ministry clients who die in Canada and were BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) recipients immediately prior to their death, where eligibility for service has been established, the ministry may pay the cost of either:
 

  • preparing the deceased person's body for transport and transporting the body to British Columbia, if the burial or cremation is to take place in British Columbia, or
  • transportation within the Canadian province or territory in which the death occurred, if the burial or cremation is to take place within that province or territory.

The ministry will provide payment at the lowest reasonable cost and only if prior approval has been obtained. [For further information regarding out-of-province deaths, see Additional Resources – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non-Recipients.]

 

Effective:  December 1, 2003

Where eligibility for service has been established, whether burial or cremation is chosen, the ministry will pay for either or both of the following:
 

  • an Imperial #2 HP cloth-covered casket (or equivalent) at actual invoiced factory cost, plus a merchandising mark-up of up to 20 per cent, plus the cost of freight to the funeral home
  • additional cost of casket for oversized remains

A lower cost casket will be used when requested by the legal representative [see Policy – Legal Representative].

 

Effective:  April 1, 2010

Where eligibility for service has been established and burial is chosen, the ministry will pay the following in addition to the funeral provider’s service fee:
 

  • cost of a burial plot in British Columbia in an amount not to exceed the lowest reasonable cost:
    • where cemeteries in the local area offer different price ranges, the lowest priced burial plot is to be used
    • grave opening and closing fees
  • where required by the cemetery, the cost of a concrete grave liner, hermetically sealed rigid container, plastic body pouch, or outer grave box or liner

Burial outside the local area, but within BC, may be authorized when the total costs that would be payable for transportation, plot, grave opening and closing fees, grave liner, container, pouch and box are not greater than what would be paid for local burial. Regions may determine what is considered to be the “local area” for burial purposes.

[For information regarding out-of-province deaths, see Additional Resources – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non-Recipients.]

Effective:  April 1, 2010

Where eligibility for service has been established and cremation is chosen, the ministry will pay the following in addition to the funeral provider’s service fee:
 

  • cremation fees
  • an urn at a cost of up to the amount shown in Rate Table: General Supplements and Programs – Funeral Costs – Cost of Urn
  • cost of a cremation plot in British Columbia in an amount not to exceed the lowest reasonable cost
    • where cemeteries in the local area offer different price ranges, the lowest priced cremation plot is to be used
  • grave opening and closing fees
  • where required by the cemetery, the cost of a concrete grave liner

Burial of the cremated remains outside the local area, but within BC, may be authorized when the total costs that would be payable for a cremation plot, grave opening and closing fees and grave liner are not greater than what would be paid for local burial. Cremated remains may only be returned to the legal representative [see Policy – Legal Representative] of the deceased.

[For further information regarding out-of-province deaths, see Additional Resources – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non-Recipients.]

Effective:  September 1, 2010

The ministry will only pay for the items and services listed in Schedule F – Burial and Cremation Costs of the Employment and Assistance Regulation. 

Anyone, including responsible persons, who wish to purchase additional goods or services (i.e., those not listed in Schedule F), may do so.

When responsible persons purchase upgrades to goods and services paid for by the ministry, (for example, upgrades to a casket or plot), the cost of these upgrades will be deducted from the amount payable by the ministry. Co-funding may be considered when resources available to responsible persons or from the estate cannot pay the entire cost. For example, if the spouse of the deceased wishes to upgrade the casket, the funeral supplement will be reduced by the amount the spouse spent on the upgrade. However, if the spouse wishes to buy a special flower arrangement, eligibility for the supplement is not affected. If the deceased person’s brother wishes to upgrade the casket, eligibility is not affected since he is not included in the definition as a responsible person.

Effective:  December 1, 2003

When the deceased is buried outside of the local area and two funeral directors provide services, the fees will be divided between the two directors as follows:
 

  • 60 per cent of the funeral provider’s service fee will be allotted for preparation of the body, certification of death, and casketing in the area where the death occurred
  • the remaining 40 per cent of the funeral provider’s service fee will be paid to the funeral director in the burial area
  • the cost of the casket will be paid to the funeral director in the area where the death occurred

Effective:  April 1, 2010

Where eligibility for service has been established, if the person was residing off of a First Nations reserve at the time of death, and burial is to take place on a reserve within BC, the ministry will pay any or all of the following:
 

  • 60 per cent of the funeral provider’s service fee to a local funeral director for preparation of the body and certification of death
  • the cost of the casket to the local funeral director
  • transportation of the body to the reserve

The balance of the funeral service costs will be the responsibility of the agency that issues assistance on the reserve.

The ministry does not provide funeral costs for persons living on reserve at the time of death. [For answers to specific questions about burial or cremation on reserve, see Contacts – Burial on Reserves.]

Effective:  April 18, 2007

Requests for ministry funding for funeral costs are often diverted when legal representatives are made aware of alternative sources that may be available to the deceased person’s estate. It is essential that ministry staff initiate cost recovery whenever possible. Under no circumstances may the amount recovered from any source exceed the amount of the funeral services costs paid by the ministry.

If the deceased person was a recipient of BCEA, the assistance cheque for the month of death is the property of the estate, and any subsequent cheques are to be reclaimed from the estate.

Whenever possible, the ministry staff member will request reimbursement from the legal representative [see Policy – Legal Representative] for all funeral services costs paid by the ministry. To assist the legal representative in locating and accessing the financial assets of the deceased, the staff member will provide the information needed to discharge the legal representative’s responsibilities. This information may include any of the following:
 

  • name and address of next of kin
  • statement of income and assets
  • location of any safety deposit boxes

The following may be potential sources for payment or recovery of funeral costs:
 

  • assets of the deceased person (including bank accounts, RRSPs)
  • Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit
  • alternative sources related to the cause of death, such as:
    • Insurance Corporation of BC (if motor vehicle accident) [see Additional Resources]
    • WorkSafeBC (if related to the workplace) [see Additional Resources]
    • Crime Victim Assistance Program (if a homicide) [see Additional Resources]
  • Last Post Fund for veterans

Effective:  December 1, 2003

The Last Post Fund (LPF) operates in co-operation with, and is financially supported by, Veterans Affairs Canada and provides funeral and burial services for war veterans or civilians who meet wartime service eligibility criteria. Deceased veterans may be entitled to burial arrangements through the LPF. For information on the LPF, contact Veterans Affairs Canada.

[For information on who to contact about the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit and about the Last Post Fund, see Contacts.]

Procedures

Effective:  November 8, 2013

To determine eligibility for ministry assistance with funeral costs for a deceased person, complete the following steps:
 

  1. Contact the deceased person’s legal representative and review the funeral arrangements that are being requested. [For further details on legal representatives, see Policy – Legal Representative].
  2. Review the financial situation of the deceased person with the legal representative and advise the legal representative that if there is eligibility for the CPP Death Benefit, the ministry will recover the Funeral Costs supplement directly from the CPP Death Benefit program.  A provincial/federal checklist is available to assist staff and legal representatives identify benefits and services for survivors.  Ensure the legal representative is informed of the existence of this checklist.  [see Additional Resources or Additional Resources-BC Bereavement Checklist]
  3. Confirm what resources are or may be available for funeral costs, including the deceased person’s assets, resources available from any of the responsible persons, contributions from family members, and possible alternate sources of payment for funeral costs.
  4. Contact Service Canada regarding eligibility for the CPP Death Benefit. Staff are to review the request for funeral services with the legal representative if Service Canada advises there is eligibility for the CPP Death Benefit. Staff are also to confirm with the legal representative whether there are resources to pay out of the estate or from any other sources for the funeral costs prior to applying for reimbursement from Service Canada. If there is eligibility for the CPP Death Benefit and the legal representative verifies there are no immediate funds to pay for the funeral services, staff are to proceed with the application. If there is no eligibility for the CPP Death Benefit and the legal representative confirms there are no available resources, proceed with application [See Procedures – Cost Recovery].
  5. Determine allowable funeral costs as set out in Schedule F – Burial and Cremation Costs of the Employment and Assistance Regulation, non-ministry financial resources that are immediately available to pay for the costs, and the balance (if any) to be paid by the ministry [see Policy – Eligibility Criteria].
  6. Provide the legal representative and service provider with information on how upgrades and co-funding may impact the amount of the funeral supplement [See Policy – Additional Items].
  7. Advise the legal representative and the service provider of the eligibility decision regarding funeral costs and the funeral arrangements.
  8. For costs approved by the ministry, advise the service provider to submit a Funeral Services Billing (HR2817) [see Forms and Letters], an original or certified true copy of the invoice/contract and, if available, an original or certified true copy of the Death Certificate [see Additional Resources] if available. In a cost recovery situation, staff may apply for a death certificate if an original or certified true copy is not available [See Procedures- Death Certificate].
  9. If the deceased person was a recipient, note the following information:
  • Name, contact information and relationship of the legal representative
  • Verification of available income, assets and available resources
  • Available supporting documentation, such as a will
  • Funeral arrangement requested
  • Eligibility decision

Payment after the fact should be very rare and will only be considered if the funeral costs have not yet been paid and the responsible persons can prove there are no resources available to them (for example, the money was borrowed or the responsible persons must repay a 3rd party and there are no available resources with which to do so).

Effective:  September 1, 2010

If the ministry has control of disposition as outlined in the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act (CIFSA), follow these steps:
 

  1. Verify if there is written preference or direction provided on the deceased person’s remains and fulfill the preference. If no preference or direction is indicated, staff should consider services in accordance with religious or cultural beliefs and traditions of the deceased person. If uncertain, staff may consult with their supervisor or PPIM for guidance.
  2. Choose immediate disposition and cremation if no preference, direction, religious or cultural belief is indicated.
  3. Choose a local cemetery or crematorium for the cremated remains at the lowest reasonable cost.
  4. Inter the cremated remains in a manner which allows for recovery of the remains in the future.

[For more information see Policy – Disposition of Human and Cremated Remains.]

Effective:  September 1, 2010

To process payment for funeral costs, follow these steps:
 

  1. Review and complete the Funeral Services Billing (HR2817) form [see Forms and Letters] for accuracy and authorize payment by completing the coding block including Section B: check for funeral director’s signature. [Funeral provider’s basic service fees are shown in Rate Table: General Supplements – Funeral Costs – Funeral Provider’s Basic Service Fee.]
  2. Scan and profile the HR2817. Where there is no case, place a copy in the office burials file.
  3. Forward the HR2817 and the original or certified true copy of the invoice/contract to  Service Delivery Division, Accounts Payable [see Contacts].

Effective:  February 28, 2012

If the deceased person had a will, the executor is responsible for paying for the funeral costs from the deceased person’s estate, and the ministry is rarely involved. Prior to making an eligibility decision in cases where a will exists, ministry staff must obtain a copy of the will, and most recent bank statements and a profile of the deceased person’s financial situation from the financial institution in order to verify the need for ministry assistance with funeral costs.

For deceased persons without a will, the legal representative [see Policy – Legal Representative] has the primary responsibility for accessing sources of funds for paying funeral costs. Ministry staff are responsible for following up with the legal representative to initiate recovery of funeral costs paid by the ministry from funds that may be received for the deceased person’s estate following the funeral.

Canada Pension Plan 

If the deceased person may be eligible for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Death Benefit, a claim should be completed by staff with the family's permission as soon as possible, (where appropriate) and directed to the nearest CPP office [see Contacts] using Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) Application for a Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit (ISP1200) [see Additional Resources]. If there are no other recoveries [see Policy – Cost Recovery], the claim should be sent with the CPP Death Benefit Claim Letter – No Other Contributions (HR3481).  If it is a reduced claim (recoveries from other assets have been received or costs are lower than eligibility amount), then the claim should be sent with the CPP Death Benefit Claim Letter – Other Contributions (HR3482). For general information on eligibility for the CPP Death Benefit, contact HRSDC. [see Contacts]

Death Certificate

A death certificate or a certified copy of a death certificate is required for claiming the CPP Death Benefit and for assisting the legal representative with accessing the financial assets of the deceased. A death certificate should be obtained if it is needed to access financial assets or if the deceased is eligible for the CPP Death Benefit.  

To apply for a death certificate, a designated staff member uses the online Electronic Vital Statics Services (EVSS) application process. In situations where the online application is not available, ministry staff may provide a paper copy of the Application for Death Certificate.

Payment should not be sent with the form. These payments are processed through  Service Delivery Division, Accounts Payable. This office does not require a copy of the death certificate.

Electronic method

To process an online death certificate application, ministry staff with online access follow these steps:
 

  1. Sign in to the EVSS and complete the online application form.
  2. Print off completed form.
  3. Submit the electronic application form.
  4. Note the order confirmation number on the printed form.
  5. Scan and profile a copy of the electronic form on the client’s case.

Paper method

Clients applying for a death certificate complete the Application for Death Certificate, and provide it to ministry staff for processing. This form is unique to the ministry and cannot be downloaded from the internet. The correct death certificate paper application form has “Client # HR 99999” printed in the top right corner and has a space for the ministry office address stamp.

A supply of the application for death certificate forms may be kept in each ministry office. These forms may be photocopied, obtained from another ministry office or requested directly from the Vital Statics Agency in your area.

To process an application for a death certificate, ministry staff follow these steps:
 

  1. Sign the Application form in the bottom margin
  2. Scan and profile a copy of the form.
  3. Send the form to Vital Statistics Agency at:

Vital Statistics Agency
PO Box 9657 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9P3

 Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective:  December 1, 2003

Service provider is responsible for:
 

  • completing the Funeral Services Billing (HR2817) form [see Forms and Letters] and submitting it to the ministry

Employment and Assistance Office (EAO) is responsible for:
 

  • reviewing the HR2817 for accuracy
  • authorizing payment
  • forwarding the HR2817 to  Service Delivery Division, Accounts Payable
  • initiating cost recovery procedures where applicable

 Service Delivery Division, Accounts Payable is responsible for:
 

  • issuing payments to service providers

 Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question   The burial or cremation supplement is referred to in the EA Regulation but not in the EAPWD Regulation. Does that mean that clients with PWD designation or their dependents are not eligible for this supplement?

Answer   No it doesn’t. EA Regulation, Section 65 states that the ministry may provide a supplement for necessary funeral costs if the deceased person’s estate or responsible persons have no resources available to meet those costs. It does not specify that the deceased person, or the person’s family, or responsible persons must be receiving income assistance to qualify for the supplement. That means any family in BC without sufficient resources may be eligible, including those receiving income, hardship, or disability assistance; or those receiving no assistance.

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