What protection is there when a funeral director or funeral plan company goes out of business?
With normal prepaid funeral plans, there is no direct connection between the funeral director and the funeral plan company (even though it seems there is.) Unless they are acting illegally, the prepaid amount, after expenses, goes into a completely separate fund. This fund is either an Independently managed Trust Fund or a special fund managed by an Independent Insurance Company. In both cases, there are strict controls over how the money is managed. Just occasionally a small local firm may not understand the rules and set up a fund which does not comply with the law, but it is extremely rare in the UK, and one of the reasons we are cautious before recommending new funeral plan providers.
The time to ask questions is if when you are asked to make out the cheque to the undertakers rather than to the funeral plan company. Payments should always be made to the Funeral Plan Trust or to the underlying insurance company fund.
So what happens to protect funeral plan owners when an undertaker closes?
If the funeral director goes out of business, the funeral plan company simply appoints another firm to do the job.
If the funeral plan company goes out of business, most trust funds or insurance funds would simply appoint a funeral director to carry out the funeral – quite possibly the same one. Alternatively, they would arrange to transfer that responsibility to another funeral plan company. The only rather peculiar exception to this used to be the Co-op who would give the money back to you, less expenses thus totally destroying the whole purpose of the funeral plan. That was why we used not to recommend Co-op funeral plans. The Co-op is a wide movement so it must be said that we understand that they have removed this somewhat odd (in our opinion) unethical clause from their contracts, but please do read their terms of business extremely carefully before taking out a Co-op plan.
This question was original brought up by a consumers question:
What happens if my Funeral Director goes out of business?
As far as we can see, Hart Funeral Directors are still around, but that is not the point.
“I took out 2 Avalon funeral plans one for me and one for my mam on the 24/5/2016 and 26/5/2016. we paid in full and they said our funerals would be done by Hart funeral directors at Stockton-on-Tees County Durham I noticed that the Heart Funeral company wasn’t there anymore and I don’t know who will do our funerals now getting a bit worried about this now can you help please?”
Being eaten by mushrooms is not everyones idea of fun. But when it is part of an environmentally friendly burial, you may begin to see the point of the Infinity Burial Suit which is being trialled in the US and is already going into production there. This is there story (in US English!):
What is the Infinity Burial Suit?
Infinity Burial Suit
How does it work? The Infinity Burial Suit is a handcrafted garment that is worn by the deceased. The suit is completely biodegradable. It has a built in bio mix made up of two different types of mushrooms and other microorganisms that together do three things;
aid in decomposition.
Work to neutralize toxins found in the body.
Transfer nutrients to plant life.
The end result of being buried in the Infinity Burial Suit is that bodies are transformed into vital nutrients that enrich the earth and foster new life.
How do the mushrooms work?
We are using two different types of mushrooms edible and mycorrhizal. Edible mushrooms are scientifically proven decomposers. These mushrooms break down material by emitting enzymes. The mycorrhizal mushrooms deliver nutrients to plant roots.
Mushrooms break down toxins in two ways with organic toxins, the mushrooms break down bonds and thus neutralize the toxins. In other cases, the mushrooms bind the toxins through a process called chelation and in turn make the toxins innocuous.
These various processes only provide positive benefits that save energy and resources, improve the soil, and enrich plant life.
What toxins are found in the human body?
The Centers for Disease Control in the US says we have 219 toxic chemicals in our body. These include tobacco residues, dry cleaning chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, flameretardants, heavy metals, preservatives, etc. The CDC reports that the chemical BisphenolA (BPA), a synthetic estrogen and plastic hardener which causes reproductive and neurological damage, is found in 93% of adults age 6 and older.
Do the levels of toxins in humans really matter?
By being buried in the Infinity Burial Suit, you are helping the environment, which we believe is a valid cause, not matter how small the contribution.
If the mushrooms break down the toxins found in human bodies, do they become toxic? What if someone eats them?
By a process called mycoremediation, the mycelium actually can break down many organic toxins and even make many heavy metal toxins inert as well. Mycelium does not always fruit (making the mushrooms you see and buy) that is dependent on soil conditions, temperature, and moisture; however, they are still working underground.
We plan on doing extensive research on all facets of the process. But as for the edibility that is still an active area of research. Some researchers are still conjecturing about this. But we hope to know more soon!
Are you introducing non native mushrooms into the ecosystem?
No, the strains of mushrooms that are used in the Suit are found all over the world.
Will the mushrooms eat me while I am alive?
(Remember this was written for a US audience who may not realise that you don’t put a burial suit on until you are about to be buried ;-).
Trying the mushroom shroud on for size
No. The mushrooms we are working with are edible mushrooms, which prefer woodbased substrates. These mushrooms are selected for their capacity to digest dead human tissue. They are not being genetically altered and will not morph into a flesheating disease. Consider the following…at any given moment, there are a million fungal spores, bacteria, and even viruses in the air, on every surface, and even in your own body competing for nutrients. Your body, when alive, has a natural defense mechanism (your immune system!) to fight off these microorganisms. Your body, when dead, no longer has an active immune system and will therefore become food for any organism.
How will Coeio test if it works?
Our products are based off of well researched basic science studies. There have been a number of studies that have proven that mushrooms aid decomposition, remediate toxins and speed delivery of nutrient to plants. We are applying this science to burials and testing our patent pending application. Validation and transparency are really important values to the company, so testing is central to us.
I don’t plan to die anytime soon, but I want to use the Suit when the time comes.
How long will it last?
You do not have to be at need to order an Infinity Burial Suit. We are expecting our early adopters to take possession of the Suit, which will be packaged for long, stable shelf life with a guarantee.
Has anyone used it yet? Our first human adopter is Dennis White. He is terminally ill and has an Infinity Burial Suit. Coeio made a film about Dennis, titled “Suiting Dennis.” It is available to watch on our site. We hope you enjoy watching it!
Is it legal to use the Infinity Burial Suit?
Yes, it is completely legal to use. Where the confusion comes in is that some funeral homes and cemeteries require a traditional casket to be buried. While they make it sound like a legal requirement, it actually has more to do with their own commercial goals. This trend is changing however. In recent years, interests in green funerals have been on the rise, and a growing number of green funeral homes and burial grounds have emerged. If you are interested in these, simply Google green burial or check out the directory at the Green Burial Council.
Do I have to be buried in a special place when I use the suit?
A range of options are open to you, including traditional cemeteries, specially designated green cemeteries, green burial conservation lands, or even on private land. Providers are different, so we recommend contacting them to discuss your wishes and make arrangements. We find that green cemeteries and conservation burial lands are the easiest to work with and most aligned with our customers’ values.
To find one simply Google green burial locations or check out the directory at the Green Burial Council. For burials on private land, please be aware that laws are highly varied by municipality. Be sure to thoroughly research the options in your area.
Can you put the Suit into a coffin, or does it have to go straight into the ground?
It is fine to use the Suit in addition to a biodegradable container. It is also fine to bury the Suit straight into the ground.
How deep do I need to be buried? Will the mycelium work at those depths?
We suggest that the suit be buried at a depth of 4ft, not 6ft, for the mycelium. In natural or green cemeteries, 4ft is the common burial depth. Burial laws vary state by state, but legally most states require 18 inches of a soil buffer between body/container and the ground.
When can I get a Suit?
We plan to have the suits available for purchase later in 2016. How much does it cost? We are still working through production costs, but our target price for the suit is $1500.
Are you making a shroud?
Yes, in addition to the suit, Coeio plans to design a Infinity Burial Shroud.
We have asked them to keep us informed, some environmentalists might want to watch this space!
Half price funeral plans are not a reality. But there are ways of couples halving what they pay for a funeral plan. For example, we can arrange a joint funeral plan which can be used on the first death. If it were life insurance (and it is not) it would be a joint life first death funeral plan.
One Funeral Plan Two Potential Users.
After all the reason for taking out a funeral plan is mainly to make life easy for the survivor. So a small number of funeral plan providers (and we know which ones) will allow you to but a funeral plan which can be used by the first of the couple to die.
At that point, the funds may be available to invest in a second funeral plan – which would be ideal. Or it may be that the second funeral just has to be paid out of the assets of the second person to die. If there is enough money in the bank after the second death, then the bank will usually agree to pay the funeral directors bill direct. But they will NOT refund the undertakers fee if the family pay it first and ask for the money back. If that happens, probate will normally be required before the family can be repaid.
One Funeral Plan Many Potential Users.
Moving on from their, it is possible with some companies to transfer the use of a plan to a third party. Lets say you have wisely taken out a plan (with our free advice, obviously!) and your mother dies without a plan, or the cash to pay for a funeral. Some companies will allow you to use your plan for your mothers funeral. A worse scenario would be a child dying, and at least it would relieve you of the immediate financial strain, which is something.
So one funeral plan could be used for any family member. It isn’t always the oldest one who dies first sadly. The convenience of prepaid funeral plans for couples which can also be donated to other family members in the event of an unexpected death cannot be over estimated,
These features are only available in a few funeral plans, so our Independent Advice just could be even more critical than just wasting a few hundred pounds on a funeral plan with no advantages over a much less expensive one. But that sort of advice is our province, so why not contact us today?
Golden Charter Funeral Plans are to raise their fees substantially, and where the go others are sure to follow.
With buying a prepaid funeral plan, there is never a better time to buy than right now.
Why? Because funeral inflation is normally much higher than general inflation. It is currently running at 8.7%. That means that a plan currently costing £2,500 will have risen to £3,210.91 in just three years time, £3,793 in 5 years time and a staggering £5,757.91 in 10 years time if inflation stays the same.
Do you savings give anything like that return after tax?
Do your savings qualify for full Inheritance Tax relief, potentially saving a further 40%?
Should you transfer some of your savings into a funeral plan?
As specialists, once you have completed our enquiry form, it is our job to trawl the market and review the prepaid funeral plans based on your criteria to find the plan which offers you the best value. With plan prices being increased regularly by funeral plan providers – Golden Charter is just the latest – best buys are changing all the time, so we have to work hard to stay up to date. It is often the tiny little detail that we capture from a discussion with you after you have returned the funeral plan enquiry form which enables us to pick the plan which is just perfect for you.
Common funeral plan wishes:
Green funerals – there are many different options here, not just one as the PR would have you believe.
Faith funerals – different religions have specific rules about how the process is undertaken – for example, burial only, burial within 24 hours, no embalming.
Extra limousines – “because my friends are blind.”
“I want to tour the town before I go.” Well, perhaps they are not all common!
Anyway, with the Golden Charter prices increase about to hit, there has never been a better time to download our enquiry form and start thinking about all the trouble you can save your family by preplanning your funeral.
Anyone who is thinking of purchasing a Golden Charter funeral plan used to pay for their funeral in advance and which, upon death, reduces the financial impact on their family has an opportunity to save some money by acting now, following an announcement by one of the funeral industry’s leading companies, Golden Charter Funeral Plans.
The firm has announced that, from 1st April, it will be increasing the cost of its funeral plans to meet the rising costs of funerals. By making this price change known to the public, Golden Charter Funeral Plans (www.golden-charter.co.uk) are offering a chance for those considering a plan to save some money if they make their purchase by March 31st.
Jim McDermott, Communications Manager for Golden Charter Funeral Plans, explains:
“We are very aware of the current economic situation and the fact that many people are facing financial challenges. Unfortunately, as with many other things, the cost of funerals has been increasing. For example, in 2004 the UK national average funeral cost was £1,920; in 2008 it was £2,549, an increase of 32.8%, and costs are still on the up. We have to adjust the price of funeral plans to take account of such increases, which are driven by factors such as local authorities increasing the cost of cremations and burials.
“We have three Golden Charter Funeral plans that offer different levels of provision to suit individuals’ different requirements, but all will cover the costs of a funeral director’s services.
“If someone is in a position to purchase their plan before 1st April they can make a significant saving and know that, no matter what happens, the costs of the funeral director’s services will be met at whatever time in the future this is required.
“There are currently over 650,000 people in the UK who have already recognised the surety that having a funeral plan can bring, and the trend to purchase them is increasing. In the USA around 30% of funerals are prepaid and in Continental European countries such as France and Germany it is 50%.”
– Prepaid Funeral Review comments: “Different providers increase their prices at different times of the year, so it is very much a case of the sooner you transfer your savings into a prepaid Funeral Plan, be it Golden Charter or another, the more you’ll have left to spend! Why not get in touch today?”
Editor’s notes: 1. Golden Charter is the leading provider of funeral plans to independent funeral directors in the UK, with over 200,000 plans issued. 2. The three Golden Charter plans offer different elements to suit an individual’s preferences, e.g. quality of coffin, but all cover the cost of the funeral director’s services. 3. A contribution towards the cost of additional items such as flowers, catering, crematoria, newspaper notices etc (collectively called disbursements) is also included in the plans.