Buying a pre-paid funeral plan - consumer guide

A funeral plan is the most effective way of planning and paying for your funeral in advance. Buying a funeral plan, is a selfless and generous act. Helping ease the practical, financial and emotional burden at the most difficult time, taking away any guess-work for those left behind.

A funeral plan gives you certainty that you are fixing the price of your funeral – and services of a chosen funeral director or funeral services provider – at today’s prices. Protecting your loved ones from potential future rises in funeral costs.

Our guidance to consumers buying a funeral plan is as follows:

Decide what type of funeral you want.

Decide what type of funeral you want, hence the type of funeral plan you need. You don’t need to spend more than you want to. The cost is around £1,600 for
 a direct cremation plan and around £3,800 for a traditional cremation funeral plan including funeral director costs, hearse and 1 limousine.

Decide the type of funeral director or firm you would like to use.

The closest firm to where you live? An Independent funeral director or part of a national firm? Providing traditional funeral services or a direct cremation service with no funeral director involved? Highest quality or maybe just the lowest price? A firm that you know has a good reputation or maybe you have experienced before? Your answers will influence the funeral plan provider right for you.

Compare two or three plans

Look online and ring companies to compare their plans and prices. A cheaper price does not necessarily mean best value or quality of service. You can compare quality ratings for direct cremation funeral plans and traditional funeral plans at independent consumer finance site Prepaid funeral plans • Fairer Finance

Prepaid funeral plans • Fairer Finance

Ask the funeral plan company to tell you the specific funeral director or firm who will provide your service.

If you don’t like the funeral director (location, premises or people) or firm who is fulfilling the service when the time comes then consider using a different funeral plan provider.

Ask what happens if you pay for a long time and have to stop making payments.

Many funeral plans are paid for in a lump sum up front. But, if you want to pay monthly ask about interest rates you might be charged and also what happens if in the future you can’t afford payments. With a certain type of regular payment, if you have difficulty making payments and have to stop paying, you will lose everything you pay in even if you pay for many years.

Ask the following questions about the basic costs:

Funeral plans are designed to cover the core costs of a funeral. For a traditional plan it is for the funeral director costs and third-party fees (crematoria, officiant and doctor’s fee). For a direct cremation it is to cover the collection of the person who died, care and disposal or return of the ashes plus the third-party fees (cremation and doctors’ fees);

  • Are third party fees guaranteed or is it only a contribution to third-party fees?
  • What is the amount of the third-party contribution, is it enough to meet the costs in your area today?
  • Are doctors fees’ are included?

Ask if the following are included in your plan or charged as an extra cost (and what cost?).

If all the following were charged as extra (at today’s prices) it could amount to an additional £1,000.

Is there an extra charge for:

  • Collection of the person who died from home, care home, hospice or hospital.
  • Collection of the person outside of working hours.
  • Removal of pacemakers (if you have one fitted).
  • Return of ashes to your family or next of kin (if you want them returned).
  • Extra-large coffin (if you are particularly tall or large).

Finally, ask what the cancellation fee is if you change your mind after 30 days.

All plans offer you a minimum of 30 days to change your mind free of charge. After 30 days some firms still charge nothing to cancel your plan, others charge nearly £400 and with some plans you will lose everything you paid and get nothing back – even if you have been paying for many years. If, for whatever reason, you think you might need the money in the future you may want to avoid products with high cancellation fees.