Many people assume that the cost of the funeral will be paid from the proceeds of their estate.

This is certainly a possibility if the payment can be deferred until the estate is finalised but this may not be the case and indeed many people do not want their benefactors to be burdened with the cost of their funeral.

An increasingly popular solution is to opt for a funeral plan. By signing up to a funeral plan this means you can agree to take out a plan for a specific type of funeral and pay for your funeral in advance; either with a lump sum payment or regular monthly contributions over a period of years, usually up to 5 years.

Most companies will offer you a range of funeral types with an equal range of exotic names!   Names such as Ivy, Holly and Rowan or Balmoral, Windsor, and Sandringham or Standard, Select, and Premier or Bronze, Silver and Gold.  I suspect you can guess the most expensive in each category!

As with any such product there are plenty of market comparison sites out there and it is clear that what is included and what isn’t included can vary enormously by plan.

What is usually included in a funeral plan?:-

  • Moving the body to the funeral directors premises
  • A coffin plus a single hearse and funeral director assistants
  • A minister/celebrant to conduct the ceremony
  • Visiting the body in a chapel of rest
  • Crematorium fees

Expect extra charges for the following items:-

  • Doctor’s fees
  • Minister’s or celebrant’s fees
  • Embalming
  • Limousines for mourners
  • Memorial,death and funeral notices in the local paper
  • Order of service booklets
  • Flowers
  • Burial fees including cost of burial plot
  • Catering for mourners
  • Headstone

Things to watch out for:-

Most people may need extra cars for mourners.

The funeral plan policy may be confined to a particular funeral director.  This is important if you might move house or area.

Fees for the crematorium chapel may be included in the plan but check the time allowed for the service. Services in crematoria for example are often only for 30 minutes and an extra payment may be required for a longer service.

The market for funeral plans isn’t a regulated market, if the company goes bust you could lose your money.

If you anticipate needing a funeral quite soon it is not a good option to take out a funeral plan.

If you are planning many years in advance make sure that the cost of things you have chosen are guaranteed under the plan giving you the benefit of protecting the plan against inflation.

Review your plan occasionally to see if it is still reflecting your wishes, people do change their minds.

If you are opting for a less expensive funeral option, no burial, or perhaps a direct cremation, most plans do not reflect this option, they usually provide for traditional solutions and reflect the increasing costs often being charged by funeral directors.

Nobody would buy insurance for a car before they have chosen the model that they want and yet funeral plans are often sold well before the funeral is actually planned in detail.

From my own experience, if buying a plan is a route that you wish to adopt I would suggest that you actually find a local funeral director that offers a solution that appeals to you and first go to visit them. Most funeral directors are happy to show you around their business and talk in detail about your wishes. In that way the funeral can be designed very specifically around your own personal requirements and the director can then offer you a payment plan to deliver this solution.

For comparisons on funeral plans the following links may help

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/prepaid-funeral-plans/

https://www.which.co.uk/money/insurance/funeral-plans/funeral-plans-reviewed-a4uzt4g0d0sf

 

Alternative ways to pay for my funeral:

Over 50s plans:-

Such plans are effectively insurance policies that pay a lump sum on your death which can be used to pay for your funeral. Only available to people aged over 50.

Whilst some policies are for a specific term many are payable until you die.

In such cases if you take the plan out at 50 and die at 90 with an average payment of £30 per month you will have paid over £14000 into the plan!

Life insurance:-

Policies pay out usually on death if you die within the period covered but as you get older these policies may become more expensive and may put an age limit on the years of cover available.  Clearly they wouldnt pay out if you died after this date.

As with many events in life, your first car, your first home, your wedding, holidays etc, you can save for these events in a variety of ways using savings, investments, ISAs etc.

Saving money to pay for your funeral is no different except that people are often encouraged to enter into complex plans sometimes clearly unfit for purpose when they haven’t really thought through what they really want to happen when they die.

Something to note! I have approached three funeral planners in the last month to try and set up a plan for myself…….none of them could offer me a plan that pays for a direct cremation.  I was even told by one company that they considered such an approach to be barbaric! They thought it was much better to use a normal funeral director … or perhaps it was just more profitable?

Time to start the conversation!