A prepaid funeral plan is something you might want to set up once you reach the age of 50 or so. By this time you are likely to be well on the way to paying off your mortgage and have less expense as your children have flown the nest. Although there are likely to many years still before you die, putting in hand the arrangements for your eventual funeral might be an important part of your planning ahead:
- by committing to exactly how you want your funeral to go, you save your family and friends the anguish of having to make those sensitive choices themselves; and
- by paying for your funeral in advance, at today’s prices, you are likely to get a rather better financial deal than waiting until inflation has done its worst and the price has escalated considerably by the time of your death – research by insurers Royal London indicates that families fall into an average of £1,601 of debt because of their having to pay for a loved one’s funeral.
Funeral plans meet precisely those objectives.
Where can I buy them?
Unsurprisingly, many funeral directors offer the option of paying for a funeral plan in advance.
But they are also sold by national providers – who have the advantage of offering rather closer security of the money you have prepaid by investing the funds into a specially set up, independent trust fund.
In that way, there is a guarantee that the money you have paid remains sufficient to cover the funeral arrangements you originally made and that an alternative funeral director may be found to replace one you chose, but which subsequently went out of business.
Between them, funeral directors and national providers of prepaid funeral plans offer a wide-ranging variety of packages – incorporating basic funeral services to those requiring more complicated planning and implementation. Not only are there a number of different providers, therefore, but each one typically offers a range of different plans.
The choice might prove overwhelming. To help you make such a difficult choice and to opt for the package most likely to meet your particular wishes and circumstance, you might want to consult an independent specialist who will compare funeral plans and arrange quotations on your behalf.
What do I need to know?
There are a number of considerations you might want to take into account before finalising the purchase of your funeral plan:
- is your chosen provider a member of a recognised industry association, for example – the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) is probably the leading one of these and member providers are bound by its strict code of conduct, designed to look after consumers’ interests;
- you need to be certain about the details of the nature and scope of the services for which you are paying – some plans may automatically include features, such as some of the funeral director’s disbursements, while others do not;
- you might also want to ask about what happens if you choose to cancel the plan – if you had paid for a funeral plan for a partner or spouse from whom you subsequently separate, for example – and whether any financial penalty is deducted from the refund of the money you paid;
- you also want to know about your payment options – do you need to pay in a single, lump sum instalment, or may these be spread out through monthly instalments over a longer period of time (and, if so, for how long)?
A funeral plans specialist may be best placed to answer these questions, compare the various plans that are available, and provide competitively priced quotations on your behalf.