1. Is the Quebec Death Benefit taxable ?

  2. What if the deceased left no instructions about a funeral ?

  3. Do I have to be embalmed?

  4. What if I have a special request?

  5. Am I better to have “Funeral insurance coverage” or a pre-paid funeral arrangement?

  6. Can I scatter my relatives cremated remains in my back yard?

  7. Does the Government help pay for funerals?

Is the Quebec Death Benefit taxable ?

A death benefit must be included in the income of the estate, not in the income of the deceased. The amount of the benefit must therefore be reported in the Trust Income Tax Return (form TP-646-V). However, if the death benefit is the only income to be reported in the trust return, the return need not be filed; instead, the recipient of the benefit must include it in his or her income. If the estate was refused, the person who received the benefit for the purpose of paying the funeral expenses is not required to include it in his or her income.

What if the deceased left no instructions about a funeral ?

 Article 42 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that, in the absence of instructions from the deceased regard­ing his/her funeral arrangements, the wishes of the heirs or successorsprevail and the latter are bound to act. Evidently, the timeframe between the death and the funeral rarely allows for the identification of heirs or successors, unless one has in hand a will that can be presumed, in good faith, to be the last will and testament of the deceased, or proof that there is no other will. Of course, it is impossible to know whether the heirs or successors will accept the succession. At this stage, one must therefore turn to the "successors" to identify the persons authorized to oversee the funeral of the deceased. By "succes­sors", we mean the persons who would normally inherit under the law, if there were no will. In principle, the order of succession is as follows:

a) If there is a spouse, bound by marriage or civil union, and children, the estate devolves to them;

b) If there are no children but one or more ascendants (father and mother and a spouse), the estate devolves to them;

c) If there are no descendants, and no father or mother, the estate devolves to the brothers and sisters and the spouse;

d) Finally, if there are no descendants, no ascendants, and no brothers or sisters, the spouse alone inherits.

With regard to their decision about the funeral, the successors must operate as a majority, with each having one vote. If a funeral director must sign a contract regarding the funeral and disposal of the remains, he should take minimum precautions as a professional in such matters, to ensure that the persons who are parties to the contract are autho­rized persons. Such precautions notwithstanding, it is preferable that the funeral services contract include a clause under which the signato­ries declare themselves authorized to oversee the funeral of thedeceased and that they have all the necessary permissions to sign this contract. The contract should furthermore stipulate that it is up to the signatories of the contract to seek eventual reimbursement from the estate for any sums they will have paid out for the funeral. What happens if, prior to the funeral or disposal of the remains, the funeral director receives proof that the per­sons who gave him the instructions and, worst case, signed the funeral services contract, are not really the heirs or successors, and that the true successors desire a different funeral? Evidently, if the funeral desired by the true successors can still be held, the funeral director will have to comply, billing the signatories of the initial contract for the arrangements that were made and must be cancelled. Nevertheless, in our opinion, the con­tract signatories may still be compen­sated by the estate for the expenses they incurred in good faith. It isimportant to note here that the funeral director, too, must always act professionally and in good faith, and inform the signatory of the funeral services contract of the scope of thecommitments that he/she is making. The funeral director should make it a habit to inform such persons that, before signing, they should consult the successors of the deceased if they eventually want to be reimbursed or, again, avoid being sued for damages and interest.

Do I have to be embalmed?

No. According to Quebec law a body does not have to be embalmed, however, certain preparation requirements must be respected. Also, if embalming is not performed, the law requires that the body be placed in a sealed casket and must be buried or cremated within 36 hours following death. If a family chooses to view the deceased, or if the body is to be placed in a public vault (when winter burial is not permitted) then embalming is obligatory.

For any other questions please call 819-564-1750 or e-mail us at cass@casshomes.ca

What if I have a special request?

In most instances, all special requests are honoured. It is not uncommon that a deceased may leave a special request in his/her funeral arrangements. These special requests may be as simple as a favourite hymn or scripture, or may include a request such as having a horse drawn hearse or having his or her golf clubs set up beside the casket or urn.

Am I better to have “Funeral insurance coverage” or a pre-paid funeral arrangement?

This depends on the age of the insured and his or her life expectancy as well as the premiums paid. If the person were to pass away within two to five years of taking out this insurance, it may be beneficial. On the other hand, if he or she were to live for another fifteen years, the premiums paid up will surpass the actual present-day cost of the funeral. A pre-paid funeral arrangement will cover the costs regardless of inflation or time. Furthermore, you can withdraw your pre-arrangement funds at any time. A cost-of-living amount will be included, however, some funeral homes may charge an administration fee up to ten percent of the contract amount. If a person is under sixty-five years of age, the purchase of an RRSP and postponing the pre-paid arrangements may be a better option financially, unless the death of that person is imminent.

Can I scatter my relatives cremated remains in my back yard?

Each Province and state have there own specific laws pertaining to the scattering of human cremated remains. In the Province of Quebec, ashes may be scattered at your discretion, providing it is not in a public waterway. Most families, choose to follow a more traditional route, and place the ashes in a columbarium or opt for burial in a family burial lot in a cemetery. Another option is to keep the ashes in your home, however many families find this to be very difficult emotionally.

Does the Government help pay for funerals?

The Government does have programs such as the “Survivors Benefit” program sponsored by La Régie Des Rentes du Québec which allows eligible persons or estates to receive a $2500.00 payment to help pay funeral expenses. Other programs, such as assistance for welfare recipients, individuals with limited financial resources or Veterans, are also available. Information pertaining to these programs, such as eligibility, can be obtain by contacting La Regie des Rentes du Quebec at 1-800-463-5185 or athttp://www.rrq.gouv.qc.ca/an/deces/07.htm Ministère de l’emploi et de la solidarité sociale du Quebec at 1-888-643-4721 or http://www.messf.gouv.qc.ca/securite-du-revenu/programmes-mesures/assistance-emploi/prestations-speciales/Index_en.asp or the department of Veterans affaires Canada at 1-800-291-0471 or http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/clients/sub.cfm