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Frequent Questions


Click on the questions below to reveal each respective answer.

This is the legislated "Line of Authority" in Alberta:

  • the personal representative designated in the will of the deceased
  • the spouse or adult interdependent partner of the deceased if the spouse or adult interdependent partner was living with the deceased at the time of death
  • an adult child of the deceased
  • a parent of the deceased
  • a guardian of the deceased under the Dependent Adults Act or, if the deceased is a minor, in the Child Welfare Act or the Domestic Relations Act
  • an adult grandchild of the deceased
  • an adult brother or sister 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 8  and 9 of the Intestate Succession Act
  • the Public Trustee
  • an adult person having some relationship with the deceased not based on blood ties or affinity
  • the Minister of Human Resources and Employment

When a friend has suffered a loss, it’s sometimes difficult to know how to help. Funeral professionals tell us there is no substitute for a sincere, heart-felt expression of sympathy.

Attend the funeral if you can – your presence will be a great comfort to those who are grieving. It’s not necessary to say much – even “I’m sorry” will mean a lot. Don’t try to come up with something profound about life and death, and don’t say “I know how you feel” because everybody experiences grief in their own way.

If you cannot attend the service or visitation, send a sympathy card with a little note and talk about special things you remember about the deceased. Your perspective or story will likely provide family with fresh memories they may not have known.

Other expressions include:

  • sending flowers to the service, or a plant to the home
  • offer to phone friends and colleagues to notify them of the death
  • provide babysitting for the family while arrangements are being made
  • pick up relatives at the airport
  • provide baking for the reception after the service, or provide a casserole for the family
  • offer to answer the door or phone for the family, and keep a record of those who called on the day of the service, offer to stay behind to ensure the house is not empty, as a precaution against theft of memorial contribution.

Sometimes, grief can be so overwhelming that even normal responses can leave a person feeling as though they are going crazy.

The best way to cope is to recognize grief as a normal reaction to death. Draw on the support of friends and family, and share your honest feelings. You should be able to mention your loved one’s name without fear of ruining someone else’s day.

Grief is a very necessary process on the path to healing, so be patient with yourself. Counselling should be considered when a person seems to have changed or is acting differently – like becoming unusually withdrawn, fearful or suspicious, acting overwhelmed, expressing a wish to die, or drinking to the point that it’s interfering with their daily responsibilities.

Your funeral director will have information about support groups in your area, or you can contact a clergy member, mental health professional or a crisis telephone line for guidance. You may be surprised to find your experiences are completely normal.

Many families rely on the deceased’s regular life insurance policy to help cover the cost of a funeral. After a death has occurred, find the original policy, as it will be needed to settle the claim and receive final payment from the insurance company. The company may request a copy of the Funeral Director’s Statement of Death. It’s best to apply right away, as it can take a few weeks or months for the funds to arrive. 

Financial assistance for funerals is also available from the Worker’s Compensation Board, when a work-related death occurs. Although certain criteria must be met, the Board will pay up to $1,300 for costs resulting from the work-related death, and up to $8,150 for burial, cremation, funeral or memorial services for the worker. An additional $500 to $1,000 may also available for transportation of the deceased.

The Worker’s Compensation Board also pays monthly survivor’s benefits  to a maximum of $2,285 per month, and $179 per month for a dependent child. Alberta residents should call the Worker’s Compensation Board in Edmonton at (403) 427-1216 (collect) for more information.

The Crimes Compensation Board also awards benefits for victims of violent crimes which occur in Alberta. To receive the benefit, an application must be filed, and a decision is made by the Board after a review hearing. Forms are available from the Crimes Compensation Board in Edmonton by calling the toll-free government operator at 310-0000 and asking to be connected to 427-7217.

In the province of Alberta, no one is ever denied the dignity of a funeral. If a family is unable to pay, the government department of Alberta Family and Social Services can provide assistance for basic funeral services, a casket, and cemetery or cremation fees.

This assistance is available to those not eligible for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits, and in most cases is offered to persons already receiving assistance from Alberta Family and Social Services. Assistance may also be offered to persons who are under the Assured Income for Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.

The Canada Pension Plan offers two kinds of financial assistance for families of contributors:

Death benefit to cover funeral expenses.

The one-time death benefit payment is paid to the deceased’s estate, up to a maximum of $2,500, based on the length of time contributions to CPP have been made.

Monthly pension for survivors.

Surviving spouses and dependent children may receive a pension if the deceased contributed to CPP for three consecutive years or more (some restrictions apply).

For those who qualify, surviving spouses may receive:

A maximum pension of up to $451 per month (depending on age, whether they receive other pensions, and length of time contributions were made)

Up to $171.33 per month for each dependent child – a dependent child is defined as being under 18 years of age, or between 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at school, college or university

Benefits from the month after the contributor’s death

These benefits are paid only to those who apply, and although back payments may be made, failure to apply within a year of the death will result in lost benefits. Applications may be made to Health and Welfare Canada, Income Security Program. Call toll free 1-800-277-9914

If you are a veteran who served with the Allied Forces during World War I, World War II, or the Korean Conflict, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs may cover some expenses for funeral services.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

The total value of the veteran’s estate must not exceed $12,015 for a married veteran, plus $2,060 for each dependent child

Eligibility is calculated using both the veteran’s and spouse’s assets after funeral expenses, excluding the value of the house and one automobile

A veteran who is widowed, divorced or separated is treated as a single person and is eligible to an estate maximum of $5,000

Similar financial assistance is offered to deceased members of the National Defence of Canada to cover funeral expenses to a maximum of $4,190.

Even though this may be the furthest from your mind, there are a number of financial matters that need to be settled fairly soon after a death:

Make an estate inventory, or a complete record of all important business and personal documents, detailing where each original document can be found

Notify financial institutions of the death, starting with personal and joint bank accounts

Consider keeping joint accounts open for a few months, to allow the spouse the option of continuing to deposit cheques in the deceased’s name

If accounts are not joint, funds could be frozen until the estate is settled, so you may need to draw on other investments temporarily

Check outstanding balances on credit cards or loan agreements and make arrangements for payment

Find the deceased’s original life insurance policy and contact the agent

Check if you are eligible for death benefit payments or pensions, as failure to apply could result in lost payments if you are eligible (see other questions on this site, or contact Wombold Family Funeral Homes for information on benefits available)

Ensure an individual tax return is filed for the deceased according to Revenue Canada's requirements

Financial advisors, accountants or lawyers should also be contacted for more information on any of these subjects.

The following are four basic areas to consider when discussing costs with a funeral director:

Fee for professional services.

Professional services vary depending on the funeral service requested, but usually include items such as: transportation of the deceased; securing burial or cremation permits; embalming; consultation with the family, clergy or cemetery staff; providing staff for the funeral service; use of the funeral home’s chapel and facilities; personalized service cards, guest register & stationery; and the use of funeral vehicles and other specialized equipment.

Purchase or rental of a casket and/or cremation container.

Depending on whether the deceased will be buried, cremated, or placed in a mausoleum, the purchase of these items, and a monument will need to be arranged. 

Cemetery costs

In Alberta, burial must be made in registered cemeteries. Costs vary widely, so ask your cemetery or funeral home about burial costs and options. If cremation is requested, there are fees for cremation, and placement of the deceased in a cemetery or mausoleum.

Additional options

These include newspaper notices, musicians, clergy honorariums, and flowers. Each service is a personal reflection of the life of the deceased, so costs can vary considerably.

If you are comparing different funeral homes, remember there is more to consider than costs – some funeral homes offer more services than others, or unique services to better serve the family. It can also be a good idea to visit the funeral home facilities before making a decision so that you are better informed.

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