Planning and paying for a funeral in advance

Many people wish to plan their funerals in advance, and to know that they have set aside the money to pay for them.

Planning

A letter can be left with the Will specifying the arrangements for the next of kin to follow. It is also possible to discuss arrangements with the funeral directors in advance – requests will be lodged with the company. This can be an advisable move if there are no immediate relatives who will be available to make arrangements. The name of the funeral director can then be kept in a safe place with other important documents, such as the Will, so that whoever is left to deal with the situation can contact the funeral director.

Cost

If savings have been set aside for a funeral, and would now pay for one at current prices, that money, invested at the best rate of interest, may be enough to pay for the funeral when it occurs.

Choosing a scheme

It is important to compare details of schemes. The following are a few points you may wish to consider:

• price;
• specification of the chosen funeral;
• whether you have a choice of funeral director;
• which items are covered by the price and which are not, in particular
whether all disbursements, for example doctors’ fees, minister’s fee,
cremation service fee, the cost of a burial plot are included in the price guarantee, if not what the likely cost is of the disbursements which are not included;
• whether the funds are held in trust, with independent trustees, and trust deeds and names of trustees published.

Note: if you are in receipt of a means-tested benefit such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit then you should be aware that a funeral plan that is fully refundable could be considered as part of your savings and may affect the amount of benefit you receive. Even if the plan is not refundable, if you purchase a funeral plan while receiving a means-tested benefit, or before claiming, this could be seen as depriving yourself of capital if you bought it in order to reduce your savings and gain benefit. In this case you will be treated as though you still have the capital. If this occurs you may want to get advice about challenging the
decision.