Pre-paid funeral plans
You can pay for a funeral plan either in one lump sum or in regular instalments over a set period.
A funeral plan will also allow you to plan certain details of your funeral. Though this varies between providers and the type of plan you choose, most prepaid funeral plans will allow you to take care of the following arrangements:
- Funeral director fees
- Type of coffin
- Transport arrangements
- Whether you want to be buried or cremated
- What you want to happen at your funeral
After you die your funeral will already be paid for and all the major decisions will have been made. This means your family will have one less thing to worry about as they begin to cope with their loss.
Are funeral plans a good idea?
- Are there any health restrictions for funeral plans?
No, there are no health restrictions. Your acceptance is guaranteed regardless of your health or lifestyle.
- Are there any age restrictions on funeral plans?
Unlike over-50s plans or other types of life insurance, anyone over the age of 18 can buy a funeral plan and your age does not affect how much you pay.
- Are funeral plans regulated by a governing body?
Funeral plans are regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA).
The FPA are the only organisation recognised by the government’s Money Advice Service and exist to help protect consumers’ interests when purchasing a funeral plan.
- What exactly is included in a funeral plan and what is not?
The costs covered by a prepaid funeral plan vary depending on the type of plan you choose. It is essential to understand exactly what your chosen funeral plan will cover once you die.
Most basic funeral plans will cover:
- Funeral director fees, including care for the body until the time of the funeral
- Use of a hearse for transportation to the funeral
- A basic coffin
Basic funeral plans may not cover things such as burial or cremation fees, floral tributes, celebrant fees or other third-party costs, whereas other, more extensive plans will. Speak directly to your provider to find out what costs are covered.
- Can I buy a green funeral plan?
A green funeral aims to minimise the environmental impact of a funeral service and burial. People who choose a green funeral for themselves or a loved one often do so in order to reduce their carbon footprint, conserve natural resources and cause minimal environmental damage.
There are various ways you can make your funeral more eco-friendly:
- Choose a burial in a designated woodland burial site. These sites only allow fully biodegradable coffins or shrouds made from sustainable materials and graves are often left unmarked so they have no impact on the natural beauty of the landscape.
- Use eco-friendly funeral transport, such as horse-drawn, bicycle or electric hearses, avoiding the use of motor vehicles which use fossil fuels.
- Choose a fair trade coffin made from sustainable materials.
If you would prefer your funeral to be environmentally friendly, you can lay out your wishes and pay for some elements of the service in advance with a pre-paid funeral plan.
Some plan providers allow you to choose a green prepaid funeral plan. This means that the money you use to pre-pay for your own funeral is placed in a fund that only invests in green and ethical investments, both in the UK and globally.
Whether you want an entirely carbon-neutral green funeral, or simply wish to include elements that address environmental concerns, Funeral Guide recommends that you discuss your options with your plan provider.
- What happens if there are costs not covered by the prepaid plan?
If there are other expenses which are not covered by the funeral plan, the executor of your estate or your loved ones must pay for these by another means. This may include cash savings, the estate’s assets, or insurance policies.
- Who will inform my plan provider that I have died?
After your death, your loved ones or the executor of your will should contact the funeral plan provider. This is why is it vital to tell your closest family and friends that you have taken out a funeral plan, as well as provide details in your will.
- What happens if I die abroad?
Most standard funeral plans do not cover the cost of repatriation (bringing your body back to the UK). Some holiday insurance may have repatriation coverage.
Some funeral plan providers offer repatriation funeral plans for specific countries. These are ideal for those who spend a lot of time in a foreign country, or those who have emigrated but wish to be laid to rest in the UK.
- Is it possible to cancel a prepaid funeral plan? Are there any charges involved?
Cancellation policies can vary between providers, so it is essential that you check the terms and conditions before committing to a funeral plan.
Some funeral plan providers allow you to cancel and obtain a full refund within 30 days of taking out the plan. After this 30-day period you may be charged a cancellation fee, which will be deducted from the refund.
- If I pay by instalments, for how long will I be making payments?
Payment options differ, but funeral plans usually offer the option to make monthly funeral plan payments. This could be over several months or years, depending on the provider and your preferences.
Bear in mind that paying upfront may be slightly less expensive than paying in instalments.
- What happens if there are outstanding instalments at death?
If you have not finished making payments when you die, most funeral plan providers will require your loved ones or executors to pay the balance before funeral arrangements can begin.
The alternative is to cancel the funeral plan. However, this may involve a cancellation fee, and some providers do not allow a plan to be cancelled after the death of the plan holder.
- If I choose a national funeral plan provider, can I choose which funeral director will be used?
If you choose to take out a funeral plan with a national provider, you will usually have a choice of which funeral director you would like to oversee your funeral arrangements.
In the case that you move home, you should be able to update your plan with a new funeral director closer to your new location. Check with your plan provider that they have policies in place to deal with a change of address before committing to a plan.
- Can I change the details of a funeral plan after purchase?
Tailored funeral plans, which allow you to plan your funeral in detail, may allow you to amend or update the plan if you change your mind – for example, if you decide you would rather be cremated than buried. Check with your funeral plan provider, as some providers may require an administration fee for making amendments.
More basic funeral plans may not allow you to make substantial changes after taking out the plan. However, some providers do allow you to ‘upgrade’ your plan, which may give you greater flexibility.
- Can I buy a funeral plan for someone else?
Yes, you can buy a funeral plan for anyone, for example a parent or partner. You will be the plan purchaser, responsible for making payments, while your loved one will be the plan holder.
It is advisable to speak to your loved one before taking out a funeral plan for them, as they may already have a plan in place.
- What is a joint funeral plan?
A joint funeral plan is designed for two people, usually a married couple or civil partners, used to pay for the funeral when one person dies. It differs from a standard funeral plan as it allows for two people to be named as the funeral policy holders.
Joint funeral plans will only pay out for one person’s funeral, usually the first plan holder that dies.
If you have taken out a joint funeral plan, it is usually not possible to change this to a single plan later. Cancellation fees and conditions may apply, so check the specific terms of your joint plan if you are worried about later changes in circumstances.
- What happens if my chosen funeral director or plan provider goes out of business?
The money you use to pay for your funeral plan is not held by the funeral director or plan provider. It is either placed in a trust or used to buy an insurance policy on the life of the plan holder. The [Funeral Planning Authority (FPA)](http://funeralplanningauthority.co.uk/) helps regulate this process. This is done so that your money is safe, even if your provider or funeral director closes.
If your chosen funeral director goes out of business, most plan providers will offer to transfer your plan to another funeral director. It is advisable to ask your plan provider what their policy in case of closure before committing to a funeral plan.
If a funeral director or plan provider goes out of business and you have trouble getting replacement services, contact the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA).
- Can the funeral director make changes to the type of funeral I have planned?
There are many different types of funeral plan, from basic costs to fully-tailored. What you choose and pay for is what you receive upon your death. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before committing to a funeral plan so that you and your loved ones understand what is covered by the policy and what to expect from the funeral director.
If your loved ones feel that a funeral director or plan provider has not provided the services outlined in your funeral plan, they should contact the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) to lodge a complaint.