Funeral plans: Everything you need to know

If you’re considering buying a funeral plan, you’ll likely have several questions about how they work and maybe even if they’re worth having in the first place.

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about finding a suitable funeral plan for your needs and a little about how you can find one with LawPlus Solicitors.

What is a funeral plan, and how do they work?

Having a funeral plan means you pay for your funeral before your death, so your loved ones don’t have to – and don’t need to worry about getting the funds from your estate.

Given that the average funeral cost in the UK is over £4,000 as of June 2022, taking out a funeral plan can give you and your family peace of mind that costs are covered. In addition, funeral plans are protected from inflation, so what you pay now is what your funeral will cost even if you don’t die for another 30 years.

The only additional costs may come from things that funeral plans don’t typically cover, like the full cost of a burial plot, flowers, or the catering for your wake.

What do funeral plans cost?

It depends on several factors, including where you buy it. Generally, you can buy your plan from a specialist funeral plan provider or directly from a funeral director.

You can also choose whether to pay for your funeral plan in instalments or as a single lump sum.

Finally, it will depend on the type of funeral plan you choose. For example, a direct cremation plan is typically the cheapest option. In contrast, a comprehensive plan might include a higher-quality coffin and a more elaborate funeral service.

In general, most funeral plan providers will provide the following options, ordered from least to most expensive:

  • Direct cremation
  • Direct burial
  • Basic funeral plans
  • Standard funeral plans
  • Comprehensive funeral plans

Each option generally comes as a package, although you will often have the opportunity to create a bespoke package, which will reflect what you pay for your funeral plan.

One thing to consider when searching for a funeral plan is that what one provider calls standard, another might call comprehensive. As such, the composition and price of funeral plans might vary significantly between providers.

What do different funeral plans cover?

Except for direct cremation and direct burial plans, most funeral providers and plans will, as standard, cover costs related to:

  • Use of a hearse
  • Care of your body, including transportation from your place of death to a funeral director
  • The funeral director arranging and supervising your funeral

While the specifics of each funeral plan differ between providers, many of them will have similar common features, which we explore below.

Direct cremation plans

With a direct cremation, you wouldn’t have a funeral. Instead, your body would be cremated following a brief service usually only attended by the funeral director and their team. Your family will receive your ashes after cremation.

Direct cremation plans are becoming increasingly popular, as they allow you to take care of the essentials and give your family the freedom to arrange a memorial or something similar independently from the stress and anguish of planning and attending your funeral.

With a direct cremation plan, there is also no provision for your family to view your body in a chapel of rest.

Direct burial plans

A direct burial works like a direct cremation; only you’d be buried instead of cremated.

While direct burial plans themselves are cheap, they generally don’t cover things like:

  • A burial plot
  • A headstone
  • Gravedigger fees
  • Options for an eco-friendly or woodland burial

As such, you’d need to make alternative arrangements for covering these costs, such as leaving a specific sum of cash in your will.

Basic funeral plans

These are typically the cheapest available plans.

Basic funeral plans may not guarantee covering the total cost of a cremation or burial; some may only cover a cremation and not offer a burial option.

These plans also don’t generally include things like following limousines, and you may be limited to the days on which your funeral can happen. However, your family and friends will typically be able to view your body in a chapel of rest, albeit potentially only at specific times.

Standard funeral plans

On top of the typical features available from a basic plan, a standard funeral plan will generally have a higher coverage limit for cremation and burial costs and will cover the cost of at least one following limousine for mourners.

Comprehensive funeral plans

Comprehensive funeral plans may go even further in covering cremation or burial costs. However, their most common features are providing an additional limousine for mourners and giving more flexibility around the days your funeral can happen.

What costs do funeral plans not cover?

When choosing a funeral plan, you must note what level of cremation and burial costs are covered. While few funeral plan providers 100% cover and guarantee burial costs, more offer this feature for cremation. Although a critical selling point of funeral plans is that they’re protected from inflation, the only way you can truly enjoy such a benefit is to find a plan that guarantees full cover of cremation or burial costs.

Remember that even if a funeral plan covers the cost of a burial in full, this may not include the cost of the burial plot itself.

Other costs a funeral plan won’t cover generally include:

  • Floral tributes
  • Venue hire and catering for your wake

What if I die before I’ve paid for my funeral plan in full?

The easiest way to avoid this scenario is to pay for your funeral plan upfront and in full. While this will also save you money, many people go for an instalment plan because it’s more affordable, which brings this scenario into play.

The answer to the question is: it depends on your provider.

Some providers underwrite their funeral plans. If you have a plan with such a provider and you die before paying for it in full, they’ll make a claim and cover the total cost for you and your family. However, if you have a funeral plan with a provider that doesn’t underwrite plans, your family would need to cover the shortfall if they wanted to use it after your death.

Is my money safe in a funeral plan?

Yes. Depending on the provider and plan, your cash will either be put into a trust fund or invested in an insurance policy that pays out when you die. If you pay for part of your funeral plan using a credit card, you may also have some protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

From 29th July 2022, funeral plans will come under the Financial Conduct Authority’s remit. This means you’ll be able to get your money back from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should your plan provider go out of business.

Choose LawPlus to find your funeral plan

Whether you’re looking for a funeral plan as part of wider estate planning or individually, we can help you find the ideal funeral plan for your needs and circumstances.

Get in touch to discuss your needs and take the first step in finding your ideal funeral plan.

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