What are funeral plans?

A funeral plan is just that – your plan for what happens when it is time for your funeral to be arranged.

There are very many different forms your funeral may take and your preference is likely to be guided by highly personal considerations:

  • it might be a very basic affair, for example, or something more elaborate;
  • it might involve the burial of your remains or the cremation;
  • you might want a burial in the consecrated grounds of a church or being laid to rest at a secular, woodland site;
  • your faith might call for the service to be conducted by an ordained minister of the church or you might instead opt for an entirely secular service.

Funeral plans allow you to specify in advance exactly what form you want your own funeral to take – so lifting that particular burden from the surviving relatives who are left with difficult and highly personal decisions to make in the midst of their grieving your passing.

Prepayment

Your funeral plan may be lodged with anyone of course. For some comfort and reassurance that your plan is carried out, you might not only lodge it with your chosen firm of funeral directors, but even pay for those services in advance.

Both Sun Life and Royal London insurers publish annual reports on the rising cost of funerals and neither forecasts any let up in prices that are significantly outstripping the rate of inflation. It makes great sense, therefore, to pay for your funeral now, at today’s prices, rather than in the future when costs are almost certain to have significantly increased.

A one-off prepayment of your basic funeral plan is likely to cost between £3,000 and £5,000 at today’s prices, says the Consumers’ Association’s Which? magazine. Alternatively, prepayment may be made in several instalments.

The option of prepaying funeral plans is frequently offered by many funeral directors. By taking up that option, however, you run the risk of any particular firm going out of business before your funeral actually takes place – leaving you with the difficulty, as a creditor, of trying to recover the money you paid.

Safeguarding your prepayment

You may avoid that risk by making your arrangements with a national provider of prepaid funeral plans – enlisting the help of a specialist broker to ensure that you choose a provider of plans suitable for your particular needs and circumstances.

Reputable national providers typically offer the security of safeguarding your prepayment by placing the funds in an independent trust or by using them for the purchase of a whole of life insurance policy, which pays out a guaranteed sum upon your death.

Funeral plans therefore offer the opportunity not only of choosing precisely what form your funeral is going to take, but also the chance to pay for your chosen plan in advance. By paying at today’s prices, this is likely to avoid the almost inevitable increases funeral costs are likely to see in the future, but also save the financial difficulties which the need to pay may leave for your surviving relatives – at a time when they are likely to be struggling to come to terms with your death.

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