From: Kings Court Trust
Arranging a funeral is a task that needs to be completed upon a death, but it can make an already difficult time even more stressful for those dealing with a bereavement. We appreciate that there is a lot to think about, so we have created this blog post to outline what is involved in arranging a funeral and how you can afford the funeral expenses.
Arranging the funeral
To start with, a range of decisions will need to be made by the deceased’s loved ones in order to arrange the funeral. Some of the main points of consideration include:
Whether the person will be buried or cremated
Where and when the funeral should take place
What readings and music you would like during the service
Whether flowers are required/welcomed and if so what kind
The deceased may have left a written record of their funeral wishes or discussed this with family and friends during their lifetime, so it is important to check this before beginning to arrange the funeral if possible. However, funeral arrangements sometimes start before the Will has been retrieved, which may detail their preferences for the day.
Most families will seek the help of a professional Funeral Director to take care of the arrangements. Funeral fees can vary considerably so it may be beneficial to shop around and obtain detailed quotes from various Funeral Directors.
We recommend checking whether the Funeral Director is a member of a trade association. Most Funeral Directors will be a member of either the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) or the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD).
How have funeral costs changed?
A report from SunLife shows that funeral costs were down in 2021 for the first time in years. From 2020 to 2021, the cost of a basic funeral decreased by 3.1%, averaging at £4,056. However, this is still significantly more expensive than it has been previously; in comparison, in 2005 it was possible to pay less than £2,000 for a standard funeral. Therefore, despite this recent decrease, it’s likely that funeral costs will keep rising in the future. This demonstrates why it’s so important to consider the cost of a funeral and how it will be paid.
How to pay for a funeral
Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?
Paying for a funeral is not always the responsibility of the deceased’s loved ones, as the estate can cover the cost if there are sufficient funds to pay the bill.
The relative or friend arranging the funeral may be able to access funds from the deceased’s bank account to pay for the funeral directly. However, this is not always possible due to the complexities that can arise when accessing the deceased’s account, in which case any reasonable expenses incurred can be reimbursed from the estate at a later date.
In some cases, the deceased may have already paid for their funeral or left money in their estate to cover it. If this is the case, the Executor (if there’s a Will) or Administrator (if there’s no Will) of the estate will typically take care of paying the funeral bill. Otherwise, as detailed above, the cost usually falls to a relative or friend, who can then claim this back from the estate.
Other options available when the above methods of paying aren’t possible include:
Public Health Funeral
If there are not sufficient funds in the estate to cover the funeral and the loved ones are unable to pay for the funeral themselves, financial help may be available. A Public Health Funeral may be arranged if there are no family members or friends available to make the arrangements and there is not enough money in the estate to pay for the funeral. If a Public Health Funeral is arranged, it will normally be a cremation with a short service and the date and time will be decided by the local authority. Any extras such as cars and flowers are not included but loved ones are allowed to attend the funeral.
Funeral Expenses Payment
A government scheme is also available to help those with low income. Close relatives or friends of the deceased may be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment if they receive certain benefits or tax credits. It is important to note that a Funeral Expenses Payment tends to be taken from any money you inherit from the estate, and it is not likely to cover all the costs of the funeral. Claims must be made within 6 months of the funeral, but they can be made before the funeral if an invoice has been received from the Funeral Director.
How you can plan for your funeral in your lifetime.
There are various options available to you when planning for your own funeral. These include:
Pre-paid funeral plan
A pre-paid funeral plan allows you to pay for a funeral service in advance of your death and at the current price point, relieving you and your loved ones of any future inflation. This agreement is made between you and your chosen funeral plan provider.
This option provides you with peace of mind, as you can rest assured that your family and/or friends will have some of the stressful bereavement tasks taken away from them. In addition, it allows an individual to have some say in the details of their own funeral, which is a comfort for many.
However, some funeral costs (e.g. services held elsewhere to the cremation) cannot be covered in advance or are not in the control of the funeral plan provider. Therefore, this does not necessarily relieve your family of all financial liability upon your death.
Over 50s plan
An over 50s plan/over 50s life insurance is a type of policy designed for those aged 50-80, providing them with an affordable way to leave funds for their funeral costs; a monthly premium is paid until you reach a certain age (dependent on the insurance provider) or pass away. Upon death, the whole amount is paid out to your loved ones.
This type of plan also provides peace of mind, as it is guaranteed that your family will receive the funds upon your death. These policies can have quite a low price point and the payout can be enough to cover the funeral costs and beyond in some circumstances.
Unfortunately, it cannot be guaranteed that the funds accumulated will cover the whole cost of the funeral, and unlike a funeral plan, this policy isn’t protected against future inflation.
Could you do with some FREE, sound advice on:
- Writing a Will – What do I need and how much does it cost?
- Creating Lasting Powers of Attorney – If I was incapacitated who can act on my behalf?
- Property Protection Trusts – Can these really save Care Home Fees?
- Pre-Paid Funeral Plans – With so many to choose from how do I decide which plan is best?
There is so much confusion on these vital areas of estate planning, that sometimes just a chat with an expert in the field can clear up misunderstanding and set out the way ahead, without all the legal jargon.
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