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Eligibility Criteria: November 8, 2013November 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 Resources for Staff – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non Recipients.]
[For a checklist identifying benefits and services for survivors, see Resources for Staff or Resources for Clients – BC Bereavement Checklist.]
Legal Representative: September 1, 2010September 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.
- the personal representative named in the will of the deceased;
- the spouse of the deceased;
- an adult child of the deceased;
- an adult grandchild of the deceased;
- if the deceased was a minor, a person who was a legal guardian of the person of the deceased at the date of death;
- a parent of the deceased;
- an adult sibling of the deceased;
- an adult nephew or niece of the deceased;
- an adult next of kin of the deceased, determined on the basis provided by sections 89 and 90 of the Estate Administration Act;
- 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;
- 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
- is determined in accordance with an agreement between or among them, or
- 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.
Disposition of Human and Cremated Remains: September 1, 2010September 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.
Funeral Provider's Service Fees: April 1, 2010April 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
- Use of facilities and equipment of a funeral provider including:
- preparation room,
- 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.
Transportation: April 1, 2010April 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 Resources for Staff – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non-Recipients.]
CasketsDecember 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].
Burial: April 1, 2010April 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 Resources for Staff – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non-Recipients.]
Cremation: April 1, 2010April 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 – 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 Resources for Staff – Eligibility for Funeral Costs for BCEA Recipients and Non-Recipients.]
Additional Items: September 1, 2010September 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.
Burial Outside of the Local AreaDecember 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
Burial on a First Nations Reserve: April 1, 2010April 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 more information about burial or cremation on reserve, see Resources for Clients - First Nations Social Development Society.]
[For answers to specific questions about burial or cremation on reserve, see Contacts – Burial on Reserves – AANDC's British Columbia Regional Office.]
Cost Recovery: April 18, 2007April 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 Resources for Clients]
- WorkSafeBC (if related to the workplace) [see Resources for Clients]
- Crime Victim Assistance Program (if a homicide) [see Resources for Clients]
- Last Post Fund for veterans
Last Post FundDecember 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.]