Are you shopping for prearranged funeral services? The following tips may be of interest to you.

Prearranged funeral services and prepurchased sepultures involve considerable sums of money. Take the time to learn about these services thoroughly before making a decision.

Why purchase prearranged funeral services?

You can deal with the details of the funeral services and the purchase of sepultures in advance. These arrangements will respect your wishes. You will prevent your family from having to make difficult decisions generally required within a short period of time and while they are still dealing with grief.

You will pay the current price of a service that will be rendered at a later date. Even if many years go by before the services are rendered, no supplementary fees can be charged.

The vendor must deposit 90% of the amount you pay for future services into a trust account. The vendor must deposit the entire amount if it pertains to a prepurchased sepulture. These amounts are protected should the business shut down or the vendor go into bankruptcy.

Facts to consider when purchasing prearranged funeral services

Funeral services can be provided a long time after they are purchased. During this period, you may want to modify or cancel the contract for various reasons. This could lead to penalties of up to 10% of the amount of your contract.

You cannot cancel a prepurchased sepultures contract that is entered into at the establishment of the vendor. You must be sure of your choice before signing any document. If the contract was negotiated or signed elsewhere than at the vendor’s establishment, you have a period of 30 days to change your mind.

Register of prearranged funeral services contracts and prepurchased sepulture contracts

The Register of prearranged funeral services contracts and prepurchased sepulture contracts was implemented on January 18, 2021 in order to make it easier to locate any “prearrangement” contracts a person may have entered into before death. Among other things, this register will ensure that your final wishes are respected after death. It could also help your loved ones avoid having to pay for agreements that already exist.

For more information, refer to the page titled Knowing About the Existence of the Register.

By law, only a vendor who holds a funeral services business licence issued by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux may negotiate or enter into a funeral services contract.

To check whether a vendor holds a licence, you can consult the Répertoire des entreprises de services funéraires (directory of funeral services business licences - in French only) on the website of the Ministère.

Caution: Insurance for funeral expenses

A prearranged funeral services contract and a prepurchased sepulture contract are different from an insurance for funeral expenses contract, which is prohibited under the Civil Code of Québec. An insurance contract whereby a person (or a business) undertakes to provide goods or services upon the death of the insured person is null and void.

However, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy can, after the death of the insured person, legally use or spend, in whole or in part, the money from this insurance policy to pay for this person's funeral expenses.

In Québec, vendors who enter into prearranged funeral services contracts and prepurchased sepultures contracts must respect certain rules of conduct. You are protected from any form of abusive solicitation.

Ask about the rules pertaining to solicitation in order to exercise your rights while you shop around.

Before entering into a contract of prearranged funeral services and prepurchased sepultures, you must know what the contracts are required to contain. The page about the Contract content provides you with this information and informs you about the obligations of the vendor after the contract has been signed. It will help you make sure that the contracts are compliant and that the vendor respects the prescribed rules.

Many years can pass between the signature and the execution of a prearranged funeral services contract and a prepurchased sepultures contract. You may have to amend or cancel these contracts for various reasons.

Find out more about the amendment and cancellation terms. They are different for these 2 types of contracts and differ based on whether they were entered into at the vendor’s establishment or elsewhere.

When entering into a prearranged funeral services contract and the prepurchase of sepultures, please inform at least one person of your course of action. It is a way of ensuring that the contracts will be well executed at the time of your death.

Leave a copy of your contract

When a contract is signed elsewhere than at the vendor’s establishment, the vendor or his representative is obligated to urge you to send a copy of your contract to the person of your choice.

Consult your family

Think about discussing it with your family before making a decision. Your family can help you with your last wishes and help you make the right choices. You can also ask someone to accompany you to the meeting with the vendor in order to get an outside opinion.

Prearranged funeral services and the prepurchase of sepultures are important contracts. Take all the time you need to make the best choice.

Compare establishments

Get information from several establishments in order to compare prices. Vendors are under the obligation of presenting you with a detailed price list.

Many vendors offer packages, i.e. a combination of services that are established in advance and cannot be separated. If you are not interested in some of these services, negotiate a price reduction that is equivalent to the deal.

Enquire about the reputation of the establishments that interest you most and visit them. You will be able to check if they meet your expectations.

Get more information

Protégez-Vous magazine suggest resources to help you shop around. On the Web site of the magazine, you can read the special report on “prearranged funeral services” (in French only) as well as the Guide pratique sur la succession (in French only) prepared in collaboration with Éducaloi and the Chambre des notaires du Québec. Some content is reserved to subscribers. You can consult the French hardcopy version of these magazines at your local library.

The register of prearranged funeral services contracts and prepurchased sepulture contracts was implemented on January 18, 2021 in order to make it easier to locate “prearranged” contracts a person may have entered into before death.

Checking the register before purchase

If you are shopping for prearranged funeral services, either for yourself or a loved one, the vendor is required to consult the register before entering into a contract with you. 

This consultation is carried out to check whether you or a loved one has already entered into a contract in the past for the person to whom funeral products and services are intended. This will avoid you having to spend money on agreements that already exist.

Proof of consultation

The vendor is required to give you proof of consultation of the register. This proof can be provided in 3 different forms, based on the search results:

The vendor can only give you the proof of consultation in French. However, to help you fully understand its contents, an English version is available here.

Contracts found in the register

The consultation in the register, through the vendor, will make it possible to find the following contracts, if they exist:

  • Prearranged funeral services contracts, which among other things include the embalmment, the viewing (wake), decorations, transportation, the coffin or urn, the funerary monument, the ceremony, the funeral service (funeral), the cremation and the interment.
  • Prepurchased sepulture contracts, which include the purchase, leasing, reservation and/or maintenance of a compartment or any other space in a cemetery (concession, lot, etc.), a columbarium (niche), a mausoleum or other space used for such purposes.

Gradual implementation

The vendor has 45 days to enter the contracts mentioned above in the register. This applies to contracts entered into on January 18, 2021 or later.

Contracts entered into before that date that have not yet been honoured (or only partly honoured) will have to be entered in the register by the end of 2023.

It is therefore possible that, in the meantime, the search in the register yields no results or only partial results. In such a case, you can continue your search by contacting funeral service establishments before entering into an agreement.

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Last update : November 22, 2022

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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.