Being Clear on Funeral Plans

Apr 28, 2017
how funeral plans work

It’s good to see more people are coming to terms with the prospect of planning their funeral in advance with a funeral plan but there is obviously still some confusion over certain aspects; be it with the actual funeral plans themselves or funeral planning in general, so I thought it would be helpful to shed a little light on some of the more frequently asked questions.

What is a funeral plan?

Quite simply a funeral plan gives you the opportunity to arrange and pay for your funeral at today’s prices, removing the stress from your family of having to arrange everything when the time comes and saving money by avoiding future inflation. When you consider that funeral costs have doubled since 2004 from £1,904 to a whopping £3,897 and unfortunately look set to continue in a similar vein, a prepaid funeral plan could save your family a considerable about of money.

In general terms a prepaid funeral plan will guarantee to cover the cost of your funeral directors services and either cover or include an allowance for your cremation or burial fees - you can click on the link here for more information on how funeral plans work.

 What is a funeral insurance policy?

A funeral insurance policy could be one of two things; either a prepaid funeral plan as mentioned above or a whole of life insurance plan.  Whilst not specifically a funeral insurance policy, a life insurance plan pays out a cash sum to the family that can be used to help with funeral costs.

If you are looking to arrange and pay for a funeral at today’s prices so your family just need to make one call when the time comes, then the chances are a prepaid funeral plan is what you are looking for. If you want to leave a cash sum to your family so they can use it how they want, then it may be worth considering an over 50s life insurance plan.

Depending on the type of plan you go for, you pay a fixed premium on a monthly basis in return for a cash sum when you die. You are covered after the first one or two years, again depending on the plan but pay you premiums either for life or until you die, so there is a chance that you could pay in more than the cash sum paid out.

How much does an average funeral cost in the UK?

Although I have already answered how much an average funeral costs in the UK in the ‘What is a funeral plan’ section, I still thought it was worth including this question in its own right as funeral costs vary, in some cases drastically by region.

Also the answer will differ depending on whether you want to know how much does it cost for a cremation or how much does it cost to be buried?

As already mentioned, the average cost of a funeral in the UK is currently £3,897 but to give you an idea of how this varies, here are some of the more regional figures:

Regional Variations Average Cost of a Funeral
Northern Ireland £3,277
Scotland £3,716
North East £3,744
North West £3,381
Yorkshire & the Humber £3,834
East & West Midlands £3,878
Wales £3,627
East & South East £4,080
London £5,529
South West £4,011

And in answer to the questions about cremation vs burial costs, the average cost of a cremation funeral is currently £3,437 whereas the average cost of a burial is £4,356.

What is the cheapest funeral you can have?

If you are looking for the cheapest funeral then to cut out some of the costs you may want to consider a DIY funeral as there is no legal requirement to use the services of a Funeral Director. Do consider what this means though and research carefully using websites such as the Natural Death Centre as the funeral director plays an important part in the whole process such as taking care of the deceased; it’s not just about the funeral service.

Sourcing and choosing your own coffin can save money but you will need to check this is acceptable with your chosen funeral director as some prefer to use their own coffins.

One of the best pieces of advice is to make your own funeral arrangements in advance, whether that means shopping around for the best funeral director or choosing a funeral plan. The reality is that when the time comes, families don’t usually choose to shop around so the only way you can be sure of getting the cheapest funeral is making the arrangements yourself.

How much is a Prepaid Funeral Plan?

The cost of a prepaid funeral plan will depend on the company you choose and also the level of service you opt for but in general terms you should expect to pay the following:

  • A standard plan - £3,300 - £3,500
  • A midrange plan - £3,600 - £3,800
  • A superior plan - £3,900 - £4,200

The main difference between the plan levels tends to be the quality of the coffin and whether a limousine is included for the family but for more information, please click here.

Some companies do offer more basic cheap funeral plans but these will have certain limitations or omit some crucial services. For example some plans will restrict the time that the cremation service can take place to earlier in the morning or late afternoon where as others will not include any payment towards cremation fees, so do check the detail before buying a cheap prepaid funeral plan.

Are Funeral Plans regulated?

The UK has one regulatory body for prepaid funeral plans which is the Funeral Planning Authority.

There are other bodies but they are more associated with the funeral directors and not funeral plans. Companies can choose to be registered with the Funeral planning Authority but in order to do so they need to show they operate in accordance with the high standards demanded by their Rules and Code of Practice which is then tested on an annual basis.

This is why we always recommend you only ever look at plan providers who are registered with and regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA).

The list of questions of course is endless so no doubt I will write more on the topic soon but if you have any burning questions (not perhaps the best choice of words), do let me know so I can be sure to include them.

How do funeral plans work

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Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

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