The Executor of a deceased person's estate has the legal authority to deal with their remains and arrange the funeral. If an Executor has not been named, then the law sets out who will be considered an authorized decision-maker, in order of priority.
Under The Funeral and Cremation Services Act, the order of priority after the Executor is...
The Executor or authorized decision-maker is not required by law to obey the deceased's wishes regarding final disposition of the body or funeral arrangements. However, it is rare that such wishes are ignored. Generally, the known desires of the deceased person are considered when making decisions about what to do with their remains.
It's important to determine whether the deceased had pre-arranged their funeral plans and pre-paid for any services or cemetery plot. They may have placed a deposit for funeral services or they may have a guaranteed pre-paid funeral contract. It's important to determine what, if any, arrangements are in place before planning anything in this regard. Any receipts, contracts or other documents that relate to such arrangements should be brought to the attention of the Executor, Administrator, or individual authorized to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements.
Issues or questions that may arise with respect to burials or cremation may be directed to the Saskatchewan Funeral and Cremation Services Council.
In Saskatchewan, the burial of a human body requires a permit and a designated plot for interment. If a funeral director is involved they will apply for the permit and assist the family in choosing a place for burial that meets the requirements for a designated burial plot. When a funeral director is not involved the person who has taken responsibility for the body can apply for the permit and choose a place for burial. The burial place must, however, be a designated plot for interment.
Services available and prices for burial plots vary from community to community. Cemeteries often have regulations regarding the size and type of marker to be used for burial plots. It is best to check with the cemetery concerned before any commitments are made.
Cremation is an alternative to burial. There are several crematoriums located in Saskatchewan. The same type of caskets used for burial may be used for cremation. Sometimes one casket can be used during the service but a second, simpler casket or container can be used for the actual cremation. According to individual choice and depending on local municipal regulations, cremated remains can be scattered over fields or water, kept in a house, deposited in private gardens, or interred in a cemetery. Individuals may want to consult with the municipal authority before scattering cremated remains. If the deceased person had unrealistic wishes about how the cremated remains are to be disposed of, that may affect the decision on whether or not to cremate the body.
It's important to note that only an Executor or next-of-kin can authorize cremation.
The Canadian Pension Plan death benefit is a lump sum payment that may be paid to the estate of the deceased contributor if they made CPP contributions for a specified period. Where the deceased has no estate or Will, the payment may be made to the person responsible for the funeral, the surviving spouse or common law partner, or the next of kin, in that order of eligibility.
A veteran with documented military service may qualify for a full or partial burial allowance from Veterans Affairs Canada or from the Last Post Fund. Most large cemeteries in Saskatchewan have a Field of Honour or Soldiers' Plot. Veterans or members of the Canadian Forces can be buried in these plots when a discharge certificate or regimental number is produced. It may also be possible to have the spouse of a veteran buried in these areas, but some restrictions may apply. Family members should be on the watch for any sort of documents or other papers that indicate the wishes of the deceased, including whether they had any benefits that could affect how the body will be dealt with.
PLEA can provide you with information to help you understand many legal matters you, a family member or friend may be facing.