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Funeral plans

Many families struggle to pay the cost of the funerals of their loved ones with a recent survey revealing that costs have risen 61% over the past seven years. According to insurance company Sun Life Direct, the survey found that a bereaved family would now need £7,248 to cover the funeral costs including probate and a headstone and many families just don't have enough money to meet these costs.

With the trend of rising costs likely to continue, by not planning and providing for their end-of-life costs, nearly one in five of those who are left to deal with the costs of a loved one's funeral will experience distress whilst struggling with the expense of it all.

Also, after a cremation, what are the rules about the disposal of ashes? Usually people want to scatter ashes in a place of special signifance to them  but, in recent study conducted by the Co-operative Funeralcare, many families are holding onto their loved one's ashes because they are unsure of the regulations involved. Three quarters of families were keeping the ashes for up to a year, the most favourite spot was the mantelpiece, but other sites ranged from the attic to the bathroom.

But this situation can so easily be avoided. Planning a funeral is never an easy subject to talk about, but pre-arranging a funeral is a very practical and sensible thing to do. People worry that when they die, they won't leave enough money for their own funeral but by arranging and paying for it in advance everything can be taken care of. You can arrange a funeral plan for your own funeral or for someone elses, as long as the funeral will be held in the UK.

Advantages of planning ahead

  • The cost is determined at outset and secured at today's prices no matter how much they rise in the future 
  • You make all the decisions and can include any specific wishes
  • It can bring peace of mind knowing that everything has been taken care of
  • It makes things easier for your relatives knowing that they are doing what you wish
  • Taking out a pre-paid funeral plan prior to Social Services assisting with care costs is not seen as 'deprivation of assets'.

 To arrange your funeral, you pay a lump sum or instalments to the plan provider, or to a funeral director who invests it either, into a trust fund with trustees, or in an insurance policy, which is then used to pay for the funeral whenever that turns out to be.

The reason that the plan providers invest in either a trust fund or an insurance policy is to safeguard your money until it is needed to provide for your funeral and because they use these safeguards, they do not have to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the UK's financial services regulator.

As the plan providers are not regulated by the FSA, its complaints and compensation arrangements do not apply to funeral plans that use trust arrangements or insurance policies for your payments but if your plan provider is registered with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) they will be subject to the FPAs arrangements for resolving disputes between its registered providers and their customers. Contact the FPA for a list of their registered providers.

Essentially

  • Check to see that the plan provider has a clear complaints procedure, and is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the industry's professional body.
  • Members must follow its standards when dealing with you and when considering any complaints
  • Make sure you have a written record of the arrangements, as you should receive a confirmation of the plan which you should keep in a safe place. Make sure that your family, attorney or executor knows that you have a pre-paid funeral plan and its details. 

Please click here if you would like further information on the Dignity/National Careline Guaranteed Funeral Plan.