Resolving Grave Disputes

By Jason Ward

“Resolving Grave Disputes”, by Jason Ward of WARDS LAWYERS, relates to the bereavement and funeral services sector in Ontario (as of 2018), and was initially presented at the 2018 Six-Minute Estate Lawyers’ conference in Toronto, Ontario on May 3, 2018.

Overview

Key topics include: the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002 (Ontario); bereavement sector (and regulation); funeral services, pre-needs, pre-planning and bereavement service contracts; decision-making authority for the disposal of human remains; rules for burial and cremation; interment and scattering rights; duties to follow for the disposition of human remains, including to family members; payment for funeral and burial expense and potential sources of funding; consumer protection for grieving and vulnerable consumer of funeral and bereavement products and services; the role of the Bereavement Authority of Ontario; unclaimed and abandoned dead bodies; exceptions to the right to immediate possession of a dead body; role of the coroner and the Coroners Act (Ontario); the expressed wishes of the deceased person; the religious, spiritual and other beliefs of the deceased person and his or her family members; alkaline hydrolysis, green burial and other alternatives to traditional burial and cremation; possessory claims for DNA and genetic materials from a dead body; disinterment and restrictions; scattering human remains; funeral expense insurance.


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About Jason

Jason Ward owns WARDS LAWYERSPC, a full-service, eight-lawyer firm in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario. He practices civil litigation generally, particularly estate disputes and employment law. Jason articled with Siskinds (London), before practicing commercial litigation at (the former) Ogilvy Renault, Toronto. After unsuccessfully running in the 2003 Ontario provincial election (Liberal candidate), he and his family relocated from Toronto to Lindsay, Ontario, his hometown, where he started his law firm. Shortly afterwards, his wife, Karissa, left her position as a business lawyer at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, Toronto, to join Jason to build their own firm, which today is one of the largest firms in the area.

Jason and Karissa, who have three teenage children, are dedicated to their community. Both have been awarded the Business Leader of the Year Award by the Chamber of Commerce. Karissa has also been honoured as the Extraordinary Woman of the Year in the City of Kawartha Lakes. Their law firm has been annually recognized locally as the favourite law firm in the area for a decade. Both Jason and Karissa serve on local boards and offer advisory services to local non-profit and charitable organizations. They are passionate about youth mental health, too. Their firm has, among other things, run a huge, month-long Hallowe’en event in their community, known as “Haunt Your Home”, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world to the contest Website. They also present the largest kids’ road hockey tournament in Ontario, if not beyond, raising money and awareness for youth mental health. In addition, they passionately donate and actively participate in many, effective youth mental health awareness initiatives in their area.


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