Funeral Plans

About 20% of funerals are now paid in advance with a funeral plan.

Funeral Plans

When you’re searching online for cheap funeral plans you want to know that you’re getting the best possible deal and service for yourself or your loved one. In general, anyone over 18 can take out a funeral plan, although some companies restrict the age to over 50 and under 80.

The main selling point of a plan is that the cost is fixed; so that if for example you were to die twenty years after taking the plan out, your next of kin would not have to pay any extra costs. However, not all plans cover burial (plot fees) and cremation fees. These third-party costs can increase significantly over the years, so it’s important to see if your plan does cover these fees.

Paying for a plan over many years is often not a good idea as you are normally charged interest. However, the exception to this is if you were to die within two years of paying for the plan. In this case the plan provider has to offer a full refund.

Since the 29th July 2022 funeral plan providers have to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This also means that intermediaries such as funeral directors can no longer receive commission payments for selling funeral plans.

If you are going to buy a funeral plan check the Financial Services Register (FSR) to see if the plan provider is listed and has permission to “enter into a funeral plan contract”. This can be found in the section “what can this firm do in the UK”.

If it is not on the list, it could be a representative of the plan provider. If this happens find out who the plan provider is, and check that they are registered on the FSR. You could find out who is the plan provider by asking the company selling the plan.

If you need to complain about a plan provider contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Key points when comparing different funeral plans

A funeral plan is generally worth taking out if

  • You do not have to borrow money – To take the plan out, and you can pay the fees without any interest (if paying by installments).
  • You want to be cremated – Most plans include cremation fees – Your next of kin or family would find it difficult to deal with sorting out a funeral and likewise paying for one. Either they would not have enough money, or you would not have left enough to cover the cost of a funeral.

It’s generally not worth taking out a funeral plan if

  • You intend to move area – Most plans will allow you to move, however, may have to pay increased fees with a new undertaker local to where you are moving.
  • If you have to get into debt to pay for the plan – Avoid debt where ever you can
  • You intend to move abroad – The plan will not cover you
  • The plan repayments are over many years which include interest payments – The total cost may outweigh what the plan is worth.

What is generally included

  • Transporting and caring for the deceased
  • Visiting the deceased in a chapel of rest
  • Coffin and funeral director fees
  • Hearse to transport the coffin to the service
  • An allowance towards or all of the cremation fees

What is not generally included

  • Burial plot fees – These can be literally thousands, so it’s important to make inquiries and check different council burial fees.
  • Church service
  • Headstones and memorials – These again can literally be thousands
  • Order of service booklets
  • Flowers
  • Catering for a wake

Fees which often vary between being included or not

  • Spokesperson to read the service
  • Embalming
  • Limousines for mourners
  • Doctors fee of £82 for cremations – Not applicable in Scotland

Possible restriction

  • The day and time of day for the funeral.

It is very important to see what is covered and what is not covered when comparing costs. For example one provider may seem cheaper as their advertised cost may start at a lower level than others, but then say plus additional services. When these extra services are added on they may total more than another plan provider for a like-for-like service.

The other thing to bear in mind is that some plan providers may be cheaper at offering a cremation, but their burial service may be significantly higher than others.

Plan with Grace (PWG) offers both cremation and burial funeral plans. Their aim is to provide clients with quality low-price local funeral plans in the UK.

In common with other providers PWG offers:

  • Guaranteed acceptance
  • No medicals
  • Pay-in-full
  • Monthly payment funeral plans

For example PWG “Tulip” cremation service includes, nationwide collection, dressing of deceased in chosen clothes, family support & guidance, choice of day and time of service, undertaking fees, hearse, bearers, spokesperson fees, doctors fees, cremation fees, and return of ashes as standard.

They also offer a free will service when you take out a plan. When taking out a free will service it is important to check that it is not a condition of the free will that you have to use the chosen solicitor as an executor of the will. This would mean that the solicitor would charge for all work as an executor carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Normally a family member is appointed as an executor.

In the UK, writing a will can be carried out by anyone who is over 18 years old and is of sound mind. However, a will must be written correctly to be legally binding. Solicitors are qualified legal professionals who can provide expert advice on wills and estates. If no will is left then probate has to be applied.

However, as plans and costs can change it is always a good idea before buying a plan to shop around and compare other leading plan providers such as:

Golden Charter Funeral Plans – Standard Plan

Avalon Funeral Plans – Standard Funeral Plan

For example, Golden Charter offer burial or cremation on their Standard Plan. If you were thinking of burial this may work out cheaper than other plans, depending on what you would like included.

Important points for a funeral plan

Check that your chosen plan provider is listed on the FSR and provides national coverage.

Searching for funeral plans can be overwhelming. Inquire if the plan provider uses local undertakers relative to each area, as this is often best for the customer.

Additionally, check if a provider can offer easier payments by arranging monthly instalment’s. PWG for example, offer up to two years interest free, or a one-off payment. PWG instalment payments between three and five years are presently charged at 6.5% interest.

For further helpful information covering different aspects of funerals from poems, flowers, bereavement gift ideas, what to wear at a funeral, low-cost headstones and much more, visit the Save Funeral Costs™ blog.

SW Barratt
Founder: SW Barratt

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