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Funeral Guide Helper
Funeral Guide Helper

Are funeral plans safe? How secure is your money?

When you walk into a shop and buy a product or service you can expect two forms of understanding. 

  • If you pay on monthly payment terms as you might with a pre paid funeral, you'd take the goods with you and pay for the term, if you don't you'd return the product or once payment fully completed the product is yours to keep.
  • The second is a guarantee, a warranty, it may be for ten years or three years, it might refer to parts and labour or simply parts.

    When you purchase a funeral plan you are also offered a guarantee on parts, the coffin type and the labour, a service cost. Except in this instance the guarantee of service is for the rest of your life.

When someone asks if a service or product is safe we tend to look at who provides oversight, who is the controller of laws, the trade body, the ruler and regulator.

 

In the provision of pre paid funerals it is the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA), itself set up by HM Treasury in 2002 to offer scope across the funeral plan industry.

 

There is no law that suggests a Funeral Director or financial institution must join or show the trust mark of the FPA. However it is realised by many that to provide adherence to a genuine set of Rules and a Code of Practice it offers customers peace of mind and a collective feeling of responsibility.

 

Which is why you will discover some are not FPA approved. The FPA provides safety and security in so much as it states how a trust fund should be managed to protect not only the customer’s money which may be paid in instalments but also that the final sum meets the needs of the funeral services purchased.

What Does A Funeral Plan Offer And Ensure?

It may at first seem complicated to pay in advance for a product; a funeral, that you will not actually receive yourself but as a form of assurance product it is atypical of what you will receive upon death akin to a life insurance payout that you may also have contributed towards.
  • The basic concept is you pay for a funeral at today’s monetary value, ensuring that when you die the detailed funeral expenses are paid for in advance, so that your partner does not have to find the money urgently or your estate value dipped into.
 
  • While a funeral in the future may be two, three or four times the cost of today, it is index linked to inflation through an investment fund or as an insurance policy, ensuring it increases over the time period to meet the costs.
 
  • Rules instigated by the FPA to those members registered ensure that a trust fund is managed separately and audited to meet the fund’s promised aim.
 
  • Funds remain in a trust account in a bank until required, until the trustee acknowledges the death certificate and releases funds to the appropriate Funeral Director.

We are concerned with how safe and secure your final pre paid funeral total amount is. 

 

It is clear that any FPA member is audited regularly and that all monies are tied up in legal trust funds that cannot be accessed under any circumstances other than at the time of you death and only to pay for your agreed funeral costs.

 

It is important to understand also that even though such a pre paid funeral plan may be organised by a known local funeral director, perhaps a firm that has been used by the family for generations. That even if they go out of business, the funds are held securely and funeral costs will be paid to an alternative local director at the time of death.

Are Funeral Plan Providers Regulated At All?

In the UK industries tends to fall towards their own trade bodies for rules and regulations as it is more preferable than the Government and Politicians intervening which usually sees business strangled with red tape and unnecessary rules.

 

In the case of the FPA, they draw up Rules and a Code of Practice that itself is constantly reviewed so it remains fit for purpose. From these standards the members whether be Funeral Directors or financial companies running trust funds and investments aim to keep within those rules.

 

Should a company fail the annual review of their trust mark award they will be unable to show they are part of the FPA’s conduct. 

 

Thus gamesmanship enables customers who purchase pre paid funeral plans to know they are protected by a set of guidelines, that their trust fund money is safe and that the the full amount is made available “when the time comes for delivery of the agreed funeral in accordance with the plan specification.”

Are There Other Trade Bodies Which Regulate Funeral Plans?

Read more about why the FPA and not the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the body which involves itself in complaints about financial misdemeanour or shortfalls in pre paid funeral plans.

 

There are multiple trade bodies that support and provide oversight to the wider funeral service industry. A particular company could be a member of one or more institutions.

 

Some individuals form themselves a body so as to increase standards or make for fairer competition. The trust watermarks and a link to the relevant body can usually be found on their website.

National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)

 

Inaugurated in 1905, this is a well established movement that sees its membership cater for almost half a million funerals on an annual basis. 

 

They elect a President and offer a Code of Practice which all members should abide by for the benefit of themselves and customers.

 

The NAFD represents approximately 4000 funeral directors both in the UK and abroad, as well as companies that supply services to the trade, such as pre paid funeral plans. So their remit is quite wide and applies to almost 80% of funeral business in the UK.

National Association of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)

 

Some members of SAIF may also be allied with NAFD. It is more concerned with representing privately held firms, family businesses that have been in operation centuries and the recently formed. To protect their interests as well as the wider public when it comes to the supply of funeral services and associated services.

 

Forming in 1989 and with approx 900 members aligned with their rules of conduct, you might choose to rely on such a trust watermark due to ‘SAIF Care.’ 

 

A promise which offers a range of assistance to the bereaved, as well as funeral packages to those on a low income. Family run, community led.

National Association for Prepaid Funeral Plans (NAPFP)

 

Organisations don’t just appear overnight or without reason. 

 

The FPA, the main and only body to oversee pre paid funeral plan providers was set up by this association of firms, which itself was begun in 1993 to ensure their industry was run properly. 

 

The Office of Fair Trading aided in drawing up their Code of Practice. To protect consumers and make guarantees their money would be safe and reach the expected financial outcome when needed.

National Federation of Funeral Directors (NFFD)

 

Occasionally disruption is required in an industry to bring awareness about certain issues to the fore. Such an incident occurred when the NFFD was formed in 2010 to “force through price awareness and cost-transparency.”

 

They have the usual trade body schemes but go one step further with a Fair Price Charter. Some funeral director review websites report that it has one member. 

 

In 2014 NFFD set up the Funeral Directors Register where each of their members can be searched upon. Trade bodies are also about motivating their membership to promote the wider membership for their own gain and their customer’s benefit through better practices.

It Would Appear Pre Paid Funeral Plans Are Secure

  • By all means choose a Funeral Director that holds membership of a known trade body and with practices that you agree and feel comfortable with.
  • Understand however that Funeral Plans tend to be a separate entity to that of the actual service.
  • Monies are held in trust and not held by a funeral home. In fact no single company receives the due funds until you die and a named next of kin acknowledges who should receive that payment.
  • It is the FPA that deals with oversight and any problems that arise from pre paid funeral plan expectations and to which complaints can be conferred.
  • Under the guise of the FPA your monies should be secure within a funeral plan.
  • Each year every plan provider is thoroughly investigated and reviewed.
  • They need to provide details pertaining to trust funds and access and ensure they follow Rules and a set Code of Practice.

The following companies are registered with the FPA:

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