Bleak news as Sun life Cost of Dying Report 2014 reveals ongoing rising funeral costs
Oct 21, 2014
The headlines from the Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2014 again paint a bleak picture when it comes to funeral costs and the overall cost of dying, which has seen a significant increase of over 10% to a whopping £8,427. But why are we still seeing inflation busting increases and what is responsible for the overall price hike?
A summary of the financial costs
Still above the rate of inflation, the average cost of a funeral has increased by 3.9% to £3,590 so it would appear that price hikes for these services are actually starting to slow down at long last.
Don't forget though, these are average figures that vary depending on what part of the country you live.
It should come as no surprise that London is the most expensive region with the average funeral costing £4,836; almost 60% higher when compared to the North West of England which averages £3,028.
It would certainly be worthwhile taking these regional variations into account if you are thinking of taking a prepaid funeral plan out.
Of course this just covers what is commonly referred to in the industry as ‘non-discretionary’ costs, which include the funeral director’s services, cremation or burial costs and the minister’s and doctor’s fees.
So called discretionary (optional) items such as flowers, catering, venue hire, memorial stones and additional Limousines come at an additional cost, the average of which has dipped slightly to £1,883. Is that because people just don’t have enough cash for the added extras once the essentials have been paid for I wonder?
Funeral costs aside, the largest increase in the overall cost of dying was in actual fact to the cost of administering the estate, usually performed by solicitors, coming in at a pricey £3,004; an eye watering 39% more than in 2013 which is why I guess more people are doing this for themselves.
Not forgetting the emotional costs
This year’s SunLife report also focuses heavily on the emotional cost funerals have on families when faced not only with the financial burden, all too often leading to debt for years to come but also in not knowing the deceased's final wishes.
It highlights how much more comforting it is for those who had both arranged a funeral and administered the estate to simply follow a set of wishes made by the deceased, rather than being put in the unenviable position of having to make all the decisions.
So how are people paying for funerals?
Well it looks as though some of us are finally getting around to putting plans in places as according to the report, 57% of people had made a financial provision before they died, of which 24% had purchased prepaid funeral plans.
Prepaid funeral plans have become more popular in recent years with over 136,000 purchased last year alone; hardly surprising given the consequences of doing nothing.
A prepaid funeral plan gives you the opportunity to pay for the funeral at today’s prices; effectively freezing the cost and therefore avoiding the very real risk of future price increases.
Another option many choose to help with funeral costs, especially those on a tighter budget is an Over 50 life insurance plan, which offers guaranteed acceptance and fixed monthly premiums starting from around £7 a month.
Whilst this option could help with budgeting and leaves a cash sum for the family to use when the time comes, it is important to remember that inflation will reduce its value and depending on how long you live, there is a chance you could pay more in than the cash sum paid out.
Of course many people still rely on savings to pay for their funeral; a viable option but only if you take into account increasing costs and are not tempted to dip into the funds on that ‘rainy day’.
Sadly some are forced to rely on credit cards, going into debt to meet the expense; a reality supported by a report this year that showed funeral costs as the UK’s single biggest credit card expense.
So what does the report tell us?
In general terms as always the Sun Life Cost of Dying report 2014 highlights two things:
• Funeral costs continue to rise
• Pre planning can help families left behind cope better both emotionally and financially
In a nutshell, if you can afford to put plans in place, then it’s a worthwhile thing to do, however money aside; just sharing your wishes or making a Will can make a real difference too.