Funeral plans provide peace of mind to both you and your family. They can guarantee payment for certain aspects of your funeral, including the most critical parts, such as paying for preparation costs and funeral directors. This ensures your family won’t need to find the money to pay for your funeral after you die. Instead, they can enact your plan and organise the funeral with the provider's assistance.
Of course, funerals can be difficult to plan while we are alive, not just because of the subject itself but also because we can never be sure of how long we will live. Nevertheless, adults often take out a funeral plan as they get older simply because they help tick a box, helping their families avoid additional worries and financial anxiety while grieving.
Funeral plans aren’t just for families; they also allow us to control and organise certain aspects of the service ourselves, like whether we want a religious or humanist service or no service at all. Making these choices can provide peace of mind that our funeral will represent and remember us in the way we best see fit when we are gone.
So how do you go about choosing a funeral plan suitable for you?
1) Consider your funeral
What funeral do you want for yourself and your family? Will it be a traditional church service or a more modern one? Will it be religious or humanist? Do you want a service at all or just a simple cremation? It’s best to start by considering what type of funeral you would like.
Cremation or burial?
Most plans guarantee to cover cremation costs but will only contribute to a proportion of burial costs as these vary considerably throughout the UK. This contribution will usually increase every year in accordance with RPI inflation.
If you decide you only want or need a low-key funeral, then a direct cremation may be best for you - these are also the cheapest plans. These will also allow you and your family to make separate arrangements for a wake, reception, or service that will take place separately from the funeral itself.
Humanist or religious?
Most funeral plan providers accommodate both religious and humanist services. For some, you will have to contact them directly to organise a humanist service, whereas, with others, you can select it when taking out your plan.
This might limit you to fewer funeral directors. However, if you already have one in mind, you should contact the plan provider to find out whether they work with them.
Another aspect you’ll need to consider is attendance. Funeral plans can cater for services with smaller or larger attendances, which may affect the number of limousines you need for family members and friends. But, of course, even if you expect a large attendance at your funeral, you do not need to hire limousines if you do not want to.
Large funerals may be further limited to a smaller number of churches or other premises that can accommodate the numbers. Again, this will likely have to be discussed directly with the provider before taking out a plan.
2) Decide upon your budget
Budget is the most crucial factor for many. Funeral plans will cover any budget. Some are minimalist services designed for immediate family, and others are suitable for burials larger families will attend.
Amongst the major providers such as Age UK, Dignity, and Co-Op Funeral Care, there isn’t a huge variation in cost, with their simpler plans generally weighing in around the £3,000 mark and their high-end plans costing around £4,000 (in a one-off payment). Minimal plans that only cover preparation, and cremation costs, such as that offered by Pure Cremation, cost only around £1,600.
The most significant differences between cheaper plans and more expensive plans are as follows:
- A broader selection of funeral directors to choose from (including more humanist or specialist directors).
- Higher quality coffins.
- Greater flexibility on funeral dates. Cheaper plans may limit you to fewer funeral slots on only weekdays, for example, rather than on weekends. On the other hand, more expensive plans give you greater flexibility to choose the date, day, and time of the funeral, as well as the ability to make changes or amendments to the schedule ahead of the date.
- Extra limousines for transportation of family members and friends.
- Larger contributions to special requests.
- Extras such as thank you cards.
3) Decide how you want to pay
Tied closely to your budget are the immediate assets available to purchase a plan. Total costs will usually be more significant if you decide to spread payments - funeral plans are more economical when purchased upfront in full.
If you feel that you’ll need a more expensive funeral but can’t afford to pay for it upfront, then payment plans may still be the best way forward. Some providers may offer better rates than others when paying over a shorter 12 or 24-month term, so this is worth comparing.
On some plans, paying in monthly instalments from anything between 12 to 60 or even 300 months may be possible.
For example, the Dignity Standard Plan costs £3,750.00 as standard and rises to £7,475.44 when paid for over 300 months (25 years). The longer the period over which you pay, the more expensive it’ll be.
4) Research the company
Lastly, since a funeral plan is a significant investment, thorough research of the company is always advised. The Financial Conduct Authority has overseen the funeral plans
industry since July 2022, so your first port of call is ensuring your provider is regulated.
FCA regulation offers higher standards and consumer protection. For example, the rules ban commission payments to intermediaries and require the funeral plan to deliver a funeral unless you die within two years of taking out the ban. But even then, you will receive a refund.
Funeral plan providers will provide you access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which means you are protected even if your provider fails.
Many mainstream providers will fall under the above protection. But you always want to check to ensure you’re protected, especially if you opt for a non-mainstream funeral plan service.
5) Compare quotes
Once you know what you want and can afford, comparing plans is simple using online comparison websites. It’s possible to compare providers and the plans they offer, as each provider will offer a range of plans that cater to different needs and budgets.
When you research your quotes, always check the terms and conditions of the plan and its headline features.
It’s always best to ring up the provider and have a chat first, as funeral plans can be complex. It’s better to talk your ideas through before setting everything in place. This is especially important if you’re looking for a burial or have other special requests beyond the scope of a typical funeral plan.
Finding a suitable funeral plan
Funeral plans are an excellent way to provide peace of mind to you and your family. They are a cost-effective and straightforward means to plan most aspects of a funeral. Whilst they can be taken out as part of over-50s life insurance, taking out an individual funeral plan allows you to choose from many major UK providers, allowing you to select a suitable funeral plan.