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aLifefter death?

Let’s be honest, when we think about planning our own funeral or even funeral plans, it’s a bit like asking a 20 year old if they have started their pension yet. We are always too young until we get to a certain age, and suddenly the familiar phrase used by our parents in our formative years “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” comes home to roost.

In this article we’ll be looking at funeral plans - are they worth the money? What are the alternatives? How much do they cost? And should I really bother as I have life assurance?

What exactly is a funeral plan?

In straight forward terms, it allows you to pay for, and organise your own funeral in advance, therefore relieving many relatives of the emotional stress that they might encounter at the difficult time of losing a loved one. Not all plans are the same and many offer some services that others do not, as with anything you need to take time and study the alternatives. You may even wish to discuss the different options with your own family or indeed your local Funeral Director.

One consideration by many people is “how safe is my money?”. The simple truth is that when there is finally a claim, you’ll clearly not be in a position to argue your point. Although funeral plans are a financial transaction involving a type of saving or monthly installment, it is important to note that funeral plans are not covered by The Financial Services Authority (FSA. However most of the well-known plans and funeral directors are members of the Funeral Planners Authority (FPA). On their website they include lots of helpful advice and information which includes a members code of


What’s included in a typical plan? You’ll need to spend some time studying all the different alternatives to see what is included in a plan and what’s not as no two plans are the same. There are many household names such as Age UK, & Co-op offering plans as well as smaller local companies. All offer differing packages with different items listed as included. For example a limousine might be included in one, whereas other similar plans for around the same amount of money might not include the limousine but may well include something else which could be more beneficial to you.

Most companies have their own websites featuring their plans that you can easily download. Others ask you to register in order to get

28 Life Begins

the information you require. It’s likely that once you have expressed an interest, some will contact you from time to time unless you say otherwise. Always remember good consumer advise and do not let the first sales person who calls sell you their plan. Instead get a selection in and take time to review them all.

You should take time to consider what is included in your plan and how this fits in with your own personal requirements. Some things offered are very small but do need to be considered. For example when we looked at the basic package for two well-known funeral plans they both offered transport of the deceased to a suitable place of rest or nominated funeral director. However one of the plans only offered this up to a 40 mile radius and the other plan offered it up to 50 miles, not a problem if you live in an urban area but in a rural area this ten miles could make all the difference.

Some things are the same on many plans, again on the two we looked at both offered a visit to the chapel of rest during normal working hours. If however, you wanted to visit the chapel of rest at any other time (subject to a pre-arranged appointment) then you would only able to do this on both company’s premier plans.

With the vast majority of plans we looked at, burial is always the dearer option and on some you need a special quote at the time of taking the plan out. Other things that will need looking at are church fees, doctor’s fees and in some cases repatriation. Repatriation is something to consider if you have a holiday home out of the UK and still wish to be buried/cremated back at home in the UK.

As with all plans, consider all your options carefully, the FPA’s own website warns: ‘The FPA recommends that potential purchasers of a funeral plan should exercise care when considering buying what they believe to be a funeral plan. They should ensure the plan provider is legitimate and financially viable and that the plan terms are designed to deliver the outcome that they desire.’ This warning is not designed to put you off plans but does suggest exercising care when considering your options.

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