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Is a Funeral Policy Legally Binding?

Having a funeral plan can seem a little morbid, but they can make good financial sense as well ensure you get the send-off you want. Paying for your funeral in advance can be worthwhile in money terms, but are your funeral plans legally binding?

Having a funeral plan can seem a little morbid, but they can make good financial sense as well ensure you get the send-off you want. Paying for your funeral in advance can be worthwhile in money terms, but are your funeral plans legally binding?

Paying money upfront for something you're guaranteed never to see is a bit nerve-wracking. Of course, you want to make sure you know what you’ll get after to pop off to your final sleep. To put your mind at rest, we’re going to cover:

  • How to ensure you get the funeral you want.
  • Your rights to cancel your prepaid funeral plan.
  • What happens when your funeral plan provider goes bust.
  • The process when your funeral plan can't be carried out.

How Do I Make Sure My Funeral Wishes Are Followed?

The first thing that springs to mind to get the funeral you want is to put it in your will. Unfortunately, putting something like your favourite song in your will doesn’t guarantee it’ll get played. Funeral requests in a will aren’t legally binding.

Another issue with using your will for your funeral arrangements is timing. Your funeral will usually happen with a week or two of your death, but it can take weeks for your will to get read.

You can talk with the solicitor who’ll execute your will and draw up a “List of Wishes.” It'll cost money and still won't be a cast-iron guarantee of anything, but at least you've made it clear what you want.

With a prepaid funeral plan, you’ll sit down with a funeral director and lay out what you want. The type of plan you pick will cover things like:

  • The quality of your coffin.
  • How many limousines will be used.
  • Access to the chapel of rest.

Plus, you can get other details noted down, like the charity you want to benefit from donations in lieu of flowers. Your family and friends can change these details. For example, they might choose to upgrade your coffin.

The best course of action is to talk with the people you expect to be left behind. Have a chat with people about what you want at your funeral – if you want people in bright colours, and a boozy wake, make sure a few people know about it.

Can I Cancel My Prepaid Funeral Plan?

The Funeral Planning Authority regulates prepaid funeral plans. The FPA is a voluntary body that has rules and a code of conduct for all members. Under their rules, you can get a full refund of any payments within the first 30 days of agreeing on a plan.

After those 30 days, you can still cancel your prepaid funeral plan with charges. There are no set rules on what a funeral provider can charge to cancel; it's generally around £250 with the popular funeral plan providers.

Is My Funeral Plan Protected If the Company Goes Bust?

As long as your prepaid funeral plan is with a company registered with the Funeral Planning Authority, you should be protected. Under their rules, the funeral planners must do one of two things with your money:

  1. Invest it in an assurance policy to cover your funeral costs.
  2. Hand it over to a trust fund to protect your money.

If the funeral company goes out of business, the insurance company or trust would use your funds to reallocate your funeral. You'll likely still be covered by the same funeral director you initially chose.

What Happens When My Funeral Wishes Can’t Be Fulfilled?

Circumstances change and getting the funeral you want can't always happen. It's possible the graveyard where you wish to be buried doesn't have any plots left, or your ashes can't be scattered where you want them to be.

In this case, you need to trust that those you care about can make the right decision for you. There’s only so much planning that you can do. When you think about it, your funeral is about those you’ve left behind as well as what you wanted, so letting people make decisions after you’re gone shouldn’t be harmful.

By law, the final say in any funeral lands with the executor of the will or the administrator of the estate if you’ve not got a will. Concerned about family arguments over your funeral? Be sure to have a will and name an executor that you trust to carry out your will.

If My Plan Can’t Be Carried Out? Will There Be A Refund?

During the coronavirus pandemic, there have been strict regulations in place regarding funerals. We’ve seen caps on attendance, social distancing, and restricted access to chapels of rest.

In this instance, most companies dealing with prepaid funeral plans have been offering partial refunds. It’s likely the refund will go directly to your estate and managed in accordance with your wishes.

A plan covered by the Funeral Planning Authority has a disputes and complaints process available in any other situations. The people dealing with your funeral after you’re dead will be able to complain if they think your funeral wasn’t up to par and seek a refund if necessary.

Summing Up

Your funeral is your last chance to express yourself to the world. It's also a special time for those that loved you to bid you farewell. Of course, you want to get the whole thing right, so you want to be sure that your wishes are respected.

Legally, funeral wishes in a will aren’t binding. A prepaid funeral plan lets you lay out your funeral plan, but it can still get changed. The best way to get the funeral you want is to tell your executor and other family members what your funeral should look like.

You can cancel your prepaid funeral plan whenever you want, with penalties applicable after the first month. If your funeral plan can’t be enacted, there’s a chance your estate will get a refund, depending on the situation.

Joanne Rushton

Joanne Rushton

After working at the Co-operative Bank for five years, Joanne left to discover the world before returning to work helping customers understand their finances and get the most out of the banking. A career shift came after two more years, and she found herself working as a teacher in Hanoi, Vietnam before turning to her childhood of passion for writing.
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