When it comes to choosing the best funeral plan it really does boil down to your own personal situation and requirements. Budget of course plays a big part but so does what you want to achieve. Do you want an all singing all dancing funeral plan that covers everything, or are you happy just paying for the essential funeral costs and leaving the rest until the time comes?
Choosing the right funeral plan can also depend on where you live – whether funeral costs in your area are cheaper or more expensive than the average funeral costs for the UK, or perhaps whether there is a specific funeral director you prefer - although do keep in the back of your mind that life can change so do any of us really know where we are going to end up in years to come?
Aren’t all funeral plans the same?
In the last few years the variety of funeral plans available has increased, so when it comes to choosing the best funeral plan for you, it helps to know the different types of plan available. One thing is for sure, not all funeral plans are the same, so it’s important to know what you are looking for which is where we can help.
The fully guaranteed funeral plan
A fully guaranteed plan is one where all of the funeral services included in the plan as listed are completely guaranteed. This means that once you have paid for the plan, your family will have nothing more to pay for the services included – no matter when it is in the future.
There are only two funeral plan providers in the UK that guarantee all of the services included for a cremation funeral – Dignity and the Coop funeral plan.
If you are looking for a plan that ensures you family will have nothing to pay then this may be the best funeral plan for you.
The contribution style funeral plan
The majority of funeral plans available are allowance or contribution style funeral plans. This type of funeral plan guarantees to cover the funeral directors services as listed but only pays a contribution of usually between £940 to £1,100 for the disbursements. These essential third party costs currently consist of:
For cremation - cremation fees, ministers charges and doctors fees for providing a second death certificate – although the latter won’t be applicable in the near future when the law changes
For burial – the burial fees and the minister’s fees (burial plots aren’t included in any plans but some plan providers will allow you to use any excess allowance to help purchase a plot if there is any money remaining).
Basically an allowance type funeral plan means that if the third party or disbursement costs are higher than the allowance included in the plan, the family will need to pay the shortfall.
To put this into context, the average cost of cremation fees and minister’s fees across the UK is currently £946, which actually already exceeds the allowance in some funeral plans. It is worth mentioning that the allowance provided in the these types of funeral plan does increase in line with either RPI or the trust fund depending on the provider, however cremation fees alone increased by an average of 8% last year, so it is easy to see how families could pay more at the time of need.
These types of funeral plan are provided by companies such as Golden Charter, Golden Leaves and Avalon and perhaps would be better suited to people who want to ensure most of the funeral costs are covered. In addition they may also be the best funeral plan if there is a specific local funeral director you prefer who only accepts plans from one of these plan providers.
The restricted funeral plan
A number of companies such as Dignity, Co op have brought out funeral plans that cover the essentials but have limitations which make them a little cheaper to buy. Typically name the ‘Limited’, ‘Restricted’, ‘Affordable’ or ‘Simple Funeral Plan’, these plans will usually restrict the times and dates of the funeral service – utilising crematoriums for example earlier in the morning or later on in the afternoon when they are quieter. In addition, they tend to include more basic coffins or perhaps have a restricted availability of funeral directors.
If you are looking to cover the essential funeral costs, on a tight budget and happy with the restrictions included, then this may be the best funeral plan for you.
The funeral directors costs only funeral plan
Another cheaper funeral plan is one where only the funeral directors costs are covered. This means that the family would need to pay for either the third party cremation fees, or burial fees as listed above at the time of need.
If you are wanting to make a contribution towards funeral costs but can’t commit to the full amount, then this may be the best funeral plan for you.
The direct cremation funeral plan
The Direct Cremation Plan is a relatively new option which provides cover for a cremation only with no funeral service. With a direct cremation plan, the person who has died is picked up and taken to a crematorium, often of the direct cremation providers choosing. The cremation then takes place with no family or friends in attendance, and then if required, the ashes are returned upon request.
At around £1,600, a direct cremation plan is considerably cheaper than a more traditional funeral plan, so it would certainly appeal to those who want to cut the funeral costs down as much as possible. Having said that, direct cremation isn’t suitable for everyone as some families would be upset at thought on not having a more traditional funeral service with the chance to pay last respects and say good bye. It is therefore important to talk to the family before deciding on a direct cremation as your preferred option.
A Direct Cremation therefore may be the best funeral plan option for those who don’t like the thought of a traditional service or perhaps would rather their families held a separate celebration of life or memorial service at a later date.
Of course in addition to funeral plans, you also have funeral insurance or life insurance which pays out a cash sum when you die that can help with funeral costs. If you would like to also understand more about these types of funeral insurance plans, just click here.
So choosing the best funeral plan is all about personal choice and budget. The all important thing whichever option you choose is to ensure you read the terms and conditions and clearly understand what is and isn’t included in your chosen funeral plan.