It may be the last thing you think about when faced with bereavement, but the cost of a funeral can be enough to drive some families into debt. So how can this be resolved?
Unsurprisingly, according to the campaign group Dying Matters, only 18% of British adults (PDF) say they have asked a family member about what they want to do once they have passed on.
Talking about death and dying is hardly the best conversation starter around the family dinner table on a Sunday afternoon, and it’s not quite how I envisaged my debut on Which? Convo either. But it’s an important subject that we all have to deal with at some point.
Dealing with death
Today’s report ‘Support for the bereaved’ published by the Work and Pension Select Committee (PDF) examines the current state of the funeral and bereavement sector in the UK.
The report examines the experiences of people who’ve organised and paid for funerals, how people looked to get the best deal, and if the lack of competition for funeral directors in the sector is leading to higher prices.
It turns out dying has become an expensive business. According to our own research in the report Dying Better (PDF), the cost of a funeral is set to be over £6,000 by 2020.
The Select Committee’s report found that in some areas the lack of competition for funeral directors led to increased costs. In fact, it found the cost of organising a funeral rose between 4.9% and 1.8% since 2014. Competition was also being impacted by the number of funeral directors in particular areas. As you can imagine there may be more choice of funeral directors in urban areas, than in rural areas.
In one area of the UK the cost of a funeral service ranged from £990 to £3,012 – a massive £2,022 difference for the same funeral service including coffin and other necessities.
‘Shopping around’ in an effort to save money on the last send-off for a loved one may not sit right with many people. But why is that?
Funerals are obviously emotional events. Our decisions can be driven by our emotions, and this might be one reason why people do not want to shop around for the best deal.
The Department of Work and Pensions calls this ‘unusual customer behaviour’. I’d like to call it usual human behaviour at an emotional and distressing time. This raises the question; how can it be made easier for grieving loved ones to make better decisions?
So do you think it’s good or bad to talk about funeral plans?