/ Money

Pay now to rest in peace?

Grave stone and grave with coffin

Over the last ten years, growth in funeral costs has significantly outstripped inflation. Since 2004, the cost of the average funeral has increased by more than 70%. So are funeral plans a good option?

Pre-paid funeral plans offer an attractive proposition for those who want to be prepared. They allow you to pay for and organise your funeral in advance, while locking down the cost at today’s prices.

So far so good. Yet sadly, our research found that these plans aren’t always as good as they seem.

The creeping cost of funerals

Although all of the funeral plans we looked at guaranteed the funeral director’s costs in full, many plans did not cover important costs such as doctors’ fees, fees for a church, a minister, organists, a choir, grave digging and even a burial plot.

If you’re looking for a funeral plan to cover a burial, only the Co-operative and Family Funerals Trust offered to guarantee burial costs. However, neither included the burial plot, one of the priciest aspects of a funeral which costs on average £725, but potentially more.

The other providers offered a contribution towards costs in addition to those charged by the funeral director, which increase with the Retail Price Index (RPI). But even now, the cover offered is significantly lower than the average extra costs for a burial in 2012. If costs continue to rise, this cover will only become more inadequate.

However, if you want to opt for a cremation, funeral plans offered a much better deal. Age UK, Dignity, Family Funerals Trust and the Co-operative all offered to fully guarantee all core costs for a cremation, no matter how much they increase over time.

Are funeral plans worth the money?

We ran a survey of Which? members to find out what provisions they had in place to cover the cost of their funerals. Of those who had provisions, two-fifths said they’d put money into savings or investments, 28% had put into a funeral plan, 25% paid for life insurance, while 6% put into an Over-50s plan.

Each of these options has their pros and cons. For example, savings rates at the moment are averaging around 2.3% – a long way below the rate of inflation for funeral costs.

Have you opted for any of the options above to cover future funeral costs? Do you think these other products offer a better way of beating future funeral costs than funeral plans?

Comments
Profile photo of Figgerty
Member

Now this is one service we will all end up using so you should have plenty of members joining the conversation. I have very recently started enquiring about cemetry costs and they are extremely high for a plot AND the plot is leasehold for between 50 and 75 years. You don;t have to pay ground rent or service charges.

Profile photo of Figgerty
Member

Correction: cemetery not cemetry. don’t not don;t

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

I am in favour of the body being cremated and the ashes made available for a rembrance event. No time constraints as to when or where the event happens. I think around £700 all in.

Unfortunately in our family one member felt that day-time mid-week shortly after death at a Church was the only “proper” way. And a proper wooden casket. Given the deceased was not at all religious the taint of hypocrisy was felt by some.

Profile photo of CroydonGeorge
Member

Cremation is the only way to go! Cheaper too. Most people seldom go to church nowadays so only those who are devoutly religious have much cause to opt for all the paraphernalia of a full burial service. Cost of living is high enough but so is the cost of dying!

Member
Peter Lawley says:
17 June 2013

Writing from a ‘professional’ point of view as one who conducts funerals for a living, one should always look closely at the terms and conditions as to what is included in the cover, and what is not.
Usually most of things except the disbursements for adverts, organists, clergy fees and flowers should be covered.
In my personal experience, Golden Funeral Charter seems to get the balance about right.

Profile photo of Figgerty
Member

The following are prices for my local cemetery and it’s the first time I had any idea of the likely cost of burial.

“To purchase the Right of Burial for 75 years currently costs £1720 and the current interment price is £1685 (payable at time of burial). It has been illegal since 1964 to sell Burial Rights in perpetuity, so all Burial Authorities have to sell leases, usually between 50 and 75 years. There are quite a lot of different types of grave available within the two cemeteries, including a woodland area (burials in a wild area within mature trees, not with a tree planted on top). This might be more to your taste. The price for this option is currently £2955 to purchase the Right of Burial and £1685 to inter”.

I haven’t booked my plot yet, but plan to visit my likely resting place shortly.

I still don’t know if I wish to be cremated or buried. I do know that I want a bells and whistle funeral with a marker somewhere saying, Figgerty was here!

It is only by finding out the likely total cost of your desired final journey, that you can assess if a funeral plan is adequate for your type of funeral. If I end my years in daisy pines care home and have already arranged a funeral plan, then at least I will have a good send off. If all your assets are used towards your care who pays for your funeral. Do you get a paupers funeral?

Profile photo of John-3
Member

I was advised by someone, in the business, to have the cheapest coffin without the commonly used plastic handles, which are only there for decoration. At the end of the day buried or cremated you are dead and the box will either burn or rot away. I do find it a mystery why non-religious/ non church goers have a church funeral – it is a bit late by then. Costs can also be cut by having a DIY funeral conducted by friends or family in deceased home and then straight up to the point of burial or cremation. Funeral are too expensive and most of it can be done without a funeral director.

Profile photo of CroydonGeorge
Member

John, you are SO right.
Funerals are mainly for the living; the deceased is just that: DEAD.
S/he is not going to know anything about this funeral event, whether buried or cremated so I do not see the point of wasting thousands of pounds on this expensive disposal system.
Think of the hundreds of thousands who died on the battleground, or in the air, or on the sea. None of these gallant humans were given much of funeral and yet so many seem to “need” all the paraphernalia of our shuffling off this mortal coil.

Profile photo of ashe
Member

John,
Well said. My solicitor was horrified when making out my will and my response to his request for my required funeral arrangements was met with “However my family wish to dispose of my body – I won’t be there.” He could not believe that I did not wish for bells, whistles and all the modern frippery that seems to accompany funerals these days.

Profile photo of Figgerty
Member

If my family decide on a cheap or DIY funeral for me, I shall haunt them for eternity. I want to have a plain wooden coffin without gold ornamentation – all in the best possible taste. The ones who have church funeral services are probably the same ones who were christened and married in church and they want a religious service at the end of their life. Even if this is their only ever religious service, who are we to deny them. I have attended both religious and non religious funerals and I believe most non religious services are a poor celebration of a life, and a very sad send off.

Profile photo of jimbo123
Member

Hi everyone some 12 years ago i had a cabgx4 and all my insurance companys cancelled my policies they got the info off the hospital i had the opp they sell the info so because no one would insure me looking at the costs then they were about 3k so i decied to save up myself i saved 12k and put it away so i could relax i am 56 now and am dew to go and have it again i also have a failing kidney type 2 diabetas and just been told i have prostate cancer the problem ihave is that my son got himself in to debt with a credit card company and like a fool i lent him all the money since i was told about the cancer i have tried in vane to get my money back but my son says he hasnt got it where do i go from here???

Profile photo of RochelleDShapiro
Member

I want my body to be used to benefit others after my death, and am currently investigating whether bits can be removed and the rest given for medical students. I have been told that they desperately need real bodies When I arranged this for my 104 year-old father we just had a form of celebration after his death and the medical institution cremated what was left of him later, thus avoiding all funeral problems That’s how I want to go too.

Profile photo of StewartHerring
Member

A friend of mine did that with his father.
The trouble came after a couple of years, when the institution wrote to him say “We’ve finished with him. You can now collect and dispose of the remainder.”
Talk about reopening old wounds!

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Stewart- Due to a big “kick-up ” by the mothers of fetuses/etc removed for social/medical reasons , widely publicised in the media, hospitals+ institutions are legally obliged to offer back parts of peoples bodies for burial/cremation I should know when I worked for the NHS parts were disposed of in the hospital incinerator , this changed .

Member
Kathy Mc Anallen says:
26 October 2016

This morning I called a funeral provider and was frankly shocked at the amount of money I need to pay to set up a funeral plan. I am a church attender and thought I wanted the full church service and burial. But having read about the different options, I am ready to consider something else. Grateful to all of you for giving me food for thought as to what can be done without my loved ones (or me!) being fleeced! the DIY sounds great. My church doesn’t charge for the service, which I would want, so I am already off to a good start. Thank you again for enlightening me with your suggestions.

Member
Derek Brown says:
23 November 2016

I want a plan that can be configured to my specific requirements only. Cremation, no religious involvement whatsoever, no mourners and my ashes sent for scattering at another crematorium.

Member
Cliff says:
8 February 2017

I think it’s sad that all comments apart from Figgerty’s, who threatens to come back and haunt his family if they opt for a cheap funeral, assume that death is the end of everything.