Only a minority of people are making any effort in planning for funeral costs, says the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). According to trade paper the Funeral Times their survey of 1,000 people 18 and over. More than half admitted never having considered how they might pay for their funeral. Nearly a third of over 55s had given the matter no thought at all.
Just 14 percent could make an accurate estimate of funeral costs (typically between £3500 and £4000 in June 2016). Two in three underestimated the cost, many thinking the cost of a funeral would be less than £2,500.
Why they hadn’t considered planning for funeral costs:
They found it too depressing.
Or they were too young tio die.
Others had other more pressing financial priorities.
In effect, they had left the problem to their family.
Planning for funeral costs.
Despite a widespread reluctance to think about planning for funeral costs, there are many people who are thinking ahead.
Family Funeral Plan – use our enquiry form to the right.
Over a quarter have either purchased a (proper) funeral plan, life insurance policy or put money aside in savings for their funeral (and watched it shrivel through inflation!) When asked why they had put the plans in place, 51 percent of those respondents said they wanted their affairs to be in order as they are getting older. They might have further benefited from our special bonus of Legal Planning Vouchers (you will have to check if it is still available).
31 percent said they like to plan for everything financially including their funeral.
19 percent had experienced the death of loved ones with no funeral plan, and wanted to avoid that happening again
18% didn’t think the family would have the cash unless they made financial plans themselves. They didn’t want to make matters worse.
Graeme McAusland, CEO of the FPA commented on the survey: “Although the research suggests that many are putting off thinking about how they would pay for their funeral, it is encouraging that those who are considering it are actually taking action and making proper financial arrangements.
“The figures show an emerging group of financially astute over 45s are either buying funeral plans, life insurance policies or putting aside savings. This backs up what we are seeing, and that is that demand for and general interest in prepaid funeral plans is significant, particularly, but not exclusively among over 60s.”
Being world beating in The Quality of Death stakes is a bit of an odd thing for the UK to be a world leader in. But it is comforting, especially with all the fuss about the NHS. Death happens to all normal folk, but planning for it is often non-existent. No up to date Will, no Powers of Attorney (so the family stay in charge right up to the end). And no prepaid funeral plan, so the family get stuck with stumping up several thousand pounds at a weeks notice or no funeral and extra costs.
Yes, it is distressing to talk about and in many cultures is taboo. we are fortunate in the UK to have a great NHS (not perfect, just great) and lots and lots of hospices to help people – and their families – towards the end. (If you are a hospice, contact us about our fund raising service.) Too often such care is simply not available. According to the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, while more than 100,000,000 people annually would benefit from hospice and palliative care (but less than 8% of those in need access it).
Funeral Plan Quotes
Few nations, including rich ones with cutting-edge healthcare systems, incorporate palliative care strategies into their overall healthcare policy. This despite the fact that in many of these countries, increasing longevity and ageing populations mean demand for end-of-life care is likely to rise sharply. Globally, training for palliative care is rarely included in healthcare education curricula. Institutions that specialise in giving palliative and end-of-life care are often not part of national healthcare systems. Many rely on volunteer or charitable status. Added to this, the availability of painkilling drugs—the most basic issue in the minimisation of suffering—is woefully inadequate across much of the world. This is often due to concerns about illicit use and trafficking. The result of this state of affairs is an incalculable surfeit of suffering, not just for those about to die, but also for their loved ones. A deeper embedding of palliative care into broader health policy, and the improvement of standards of end-of-life care will raise the “quality of death.” And will also yield significant gains for humanity’s quality of life.
With this in mind, the Economist Intellience Unit was commissioned by the Lien Foundation, a Singaporean philanthropic organisation, to devise a ”Quality of Death” Index. This ranks countries according to their provision of end-of-life care. To go with the Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit interviewed experts around the world. It also reviewed existing research on the topic of end-of-life care for the white paper. It addresses issues on the Quality of Death as quantified by the Index rankings. Not all the complex cultural, ethical and sociological issues connected to dying could be included in the Index. The White Paper also puts the Index findings into context and attempts to define the issues that must be considered when policymakers seek to improve the quality of death faced in their countries by those with incurable illness. Their conclusion:
The UK leads the world in quality of death. Many developed nations must work to catch up. The UK has led the way in terms of its hospice care network and statutory involvement in end-of-life care, and ranks top of 40 countries measured in the Index. This is despite having a far-from-perfect healthcare system (indeed, it ranks 27th on the Basic End-of Life Healthcare Environment sub-category, which accounts for 20% of the overall score). But the UK is top in the Quality of End-of-Life Care sub-category, which includes indicators such as public awareness, training availability, access to pain killers and doctor- patient transparency (and accounts for 40% of the overall score). However, in the overall score, many rich nations lag a long way behind: these include Denmark (22nd), Italy (24th), Finland (28th) and South Korea (32nd). In these cases the quality and availability of care is often poor and policy co-ordination lacking.
Combating perceptions of death, and cultural taboos, is crucial to improving palliative care. Death and dying are stigmatised in some cultures to the point where they are taboo—as in Chinese culture. In Western societies death has become medicalised and curative procedures are often prioritised ahead of palliative care. In the US, discussion of end-of-life care often inflames religious sentiment that holds the sanctity of life paramount The issue is complicated by the perception that “hospice care” is often associated with “giving up”.
Public debates about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide may raise awareness, but relate to only a small minority of deaths. While debates about these issues gain the most media attention, they affect only a tiny proportion of the terminally ill. (Consequently, policies on these issues are not included in the Index, although the legal status of “do not resuscitate” orders is included.) Nonetheless, pressure brought on policymakers over these issues can be a catalyst for the improvement of palliative care services—as in Australia, where the federal overturning of a Northern Territory euthanasia law in 1996 led to increased national funding for end-of-life care.
Drug availability is the most important practical issue. Pain control is the point from which all palliative care stems, and the availability of opioids (morphine and its equivalents) is fundamental to quality of end-of-life care. But across the world an estimated 5bn people lack access to opioids, principally due to concerns about illicit drug use and trafficking. A lack of training is also a problem, with many doctors and nurses ignorant of how to administer them.
State funding of end-of-life care is limited and often prioritises conventional treatment. In many countries—even where palliative care treatment is available through national healthcare systems or insurance—end-of-life care bodies rely on charitable donations and philanthropic activity to support them. In the US, while palliative care is available through public medical insurance, patients must relinquish curative treatments to be eligible for reimbursements/ Unlike in the UK, for example, where both courses of treatment may be pursued.
More palliative care may mean less health spending. By increasing the proportion of community and homecare, palliative care can reduce costs associated with hospital stays and emergency admissions. In the US in particular, with the recent passing of a major healthcare reform bill, this is likely to become a focus of debate. In Spain, one study found that in 2006 a shift away from the use of conventional hospital treatment towards palliative care, an increase in homecare and lower use of emergency rooms, generated savings of 61% compared with expenditure recorded in a 1992 study. However, the costs associated with non-cancer palliative care are higher than for cancer-related care. And as the population ages, more end-of- life care will be needed overall.
High-level policy recognition and support is crucial. Pioneering areas in developing countries—such as Uganda, and the state of Kerala in India—show the importance of receiving high-level backing for palliative care strategies. Yet only seven countries in the Index have a national policy in place (another four are developing them). In other countries, awareness at a national level has not led to coherent national policies: high-level statements of support for a general position (such as that articulated by the Council of Europe) aren’t enough. End-of-life care must “get into the bloodstream of policy”, in the words of one interviewee. Deeper integration of palliative care into national healthcare systems is also vital.
Palliative care need not mean institutional care, but more training is needed. Much palliative care can be—and is—given at home; indeed more than 75% of those receiving such care in the US die at home. This is often representative of the patient’s wishes, which may be ignored in conventional curative medicine. However, capacity building, particularly training of caregivers, is necessary to enable homecare with suitably high standards. Technology will be of increasing importance in the provision of end-of-life care at home, whether to put those in developing countries in touch with doctors via mobile phones, or to enable remote monitoring of medical devices through advanced systems.
The Funeral Planning Authority has published the figures for the number of prepaid funeral plans both taken out and used during the last 10 years. They show a massive growth in the number of folk pre-paying for their funerals.
The actual figures will be higher as sales by unregulated prepaid funeral plan providers are not included.
Plan Sales in Period
Plans Drawn Down in Period
Plans Undrawn at End of Period
Registered Funeral Plan Providers’ Statistics
The FPA statistics show both the number of plans sold and the number actually used in each year. At the end of 2012, over three quarters of a million people had prepaid funerals waiting to be used, hopefully many years in the future.
The Funeral Planning Authority also said:
“Unregistered providers of funeral plans
Not all companies selling funeral plans are registered with the FPA. Some of these companies are known to the FPA, others are not (especially those that may contravene the legal requirements for funeral planning companies and that come to light from time to time).
There is no obligation placed on providers of funeral plans to register with the FPA but all providers are subject to the legal requirements of the Financial Services and Markets Act. Unregistered providers give concern therefore that there may be no independent check of their finances, documentation or processes and systems of operation. Their clients may equally be unaware of an additional risk of exposure to unscrupulous practices. Because the FPA is unable to identify all such unregistered providers and those that are known do not provide statistical information, the FPA does not know the size of this unregistered market but it is thought that Registered Providers account for something like 95% of funeral plans sold.
Other types of funeral plan
There are also other financial products described by sellers as funeral plans but these may not be “funeral plans” as defined in law (see Article 59 of the defining legislation). One such product is a whole of life insurance policy intended to provide the funds for the policy-holder’s funeral: these are marketed under a variety of names, for example, “50+ plans” and even “funeral plans.” These are designed to provide funds towards the cost of the funeral when required but they may or may not contain any arrangements for the conduct of the funeral.
Funeral plans outside the scope of UK regulation.
There are other types of funeral plan intended to deal with the repatriation of the deceased, in particular:
(a) a plan to cover the repatriation of the deceased from the UK to abroad; or
(b) a plan to cover the repatriation of the deceased from abroad to the UK.
Generally, these plans are outside the scope of UK regulation because (in the case of (a)) the legislation refers to “…a funeral in the United Kingdom ….”) or (in the case of (b)) because financial arrangements entered into outside the UK are generally considered to be outside UK regulation.
Warning to purchasers of a funeral plan.
The FPA recommends that potential purchasers of a funeral plan should exercise care when considering buying what they believe to be a funeral plan. They should ensure the plan provider is legitimate and financially viable and that the plan terms are designed to deliver the outcome that they desire. “
Funeral Inflation – More Than DOUBLE General Inflation!
Funeral inflation rose by 6% on last year as almost a fifth of people struggled to pay. That is more than double the general rate of inflation of just 2.6%. Funeral plans on that basis are stunningly good value, says the Prepaid Funeral Review.
Sun Life says a basic funeral is now £3,284, 6.2% up on 2011 and a considerable up 71% on 2004 – just 7 years ago. Burial costs made up the largest part of funeral inflation this year (9.6%) while cremation was up 6.6% and funeral directors’ fees by 5.3%. By contrast the total cost of dying including probate, headstones and flowers went down by 1.9% to £7,114, mainly because legal costs for probate dropped.
Sun Life found that one in six struggled with the cost of the funeral, one in five used a credit card, one in ten borrowed money from a loan provider and nearly as many were forced to sell belongings.
The Social Fund Funeral Payment Scheme, designed to help for the most vulnerable, was also struggling to meet mounting demand, with the situation likely to deteriorate as costs increased, economic austerity continued and the population continued to age and grow, the report said.
But the study found discretionary spending had increased on items such as memorials (up 7%), flowers (up 7.6%) and limousines (up 7.1%).
Sun Life Direct spokesman Simon Cox said: “We must encourage people to look ahead and start planning in advance. The industry needs to ensure that suitable options are available for people to take financial responsibility for their own funerals.
“Debt, despair and distress are common hallmarks of arranging a funeral and there is no light at the end of the tunnel to suggest that funerals will become more affordable. Moreover, a difficult economic climate and increasing demand on public services make further state support unlikely. The vulnerable are too poor to die and we cannot let this situation continue.”
Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Bath, said: “There is still a sense in some quarters that their death is someone else’s problem. As a forward-thinking nation we should encourage and help people to take responsibility for their own circumstances.
“National debate on social care in old age is focusing on the role of the individual in financial provision and the matter of funeral cover should not be left out of this conversation. The number of deaths each year is expected to rise by 17% over the next 15 years and the issue of funeral affordability deserves urgent attention if we are to give our loved ones the send-off they deserve.”
Julie at the Prepaid Funeral Review said “There has never been a more sensible time to invest in a prepaid funeral plan – they come in all shapes and sizes and can fit most pockets.”
Funeral Inflation – More Than DOUBLE General Inflation!
We would humbly suggest that the Legal & General over 50 life insurance plan is a good range of plans. However, it may well not be the best plan in your circumstances. Other plans are of course available to those under 50. Do read the notes at the end of the Legal & General Press Release!! Many people who have such a plan bought off the page will be shocked!
Legal & General is launching three new guaranteed acceptance life insurance plans for the over 50s:
Fixed Plan – fixed monthly premiums and a fixed cash sum paid out on death
Increasing Plan – benefit increases in line with inflation
Funeral Plan – protects against rising funeral costs
All three Over 50s plans are only available direct from Legal & General online, by post or over the phone. The plans are available to anyone aged between 50 and 80 and applicants are guaranteed to be accepted for cover. Monthly premiums stop aged 90 although cover will automatically continue until death*. The benefit and premiums for the Increasing Plan and Funeral Plan are reviewable annually in line with inflation, as measured by the Retail Price Index. However, policyholders can choose to freeze their sum assured at any time and not increase it any further. The Funeral Plan covers the cost of a cremation funeral, provided through Dignity, the UK’s largest funeral plan provider.
Alan Ferguson, Director of Marketing and Channel Development said: “People traditionally take out this type of life insurance to provide their family with funds to go towards funeral expenses or unpaid bills, or as a gift for children or grandchildren. We’re launching three different plans to give people the flexibility to choose the product which best serves their needs. If inflation is a concern, then two of our plans are index-linked and the Funeral Plan is specifically designed to help with funeral costs. Over 50s plans can provide valuable peace of mind at a difficult and emotional time.”
Policyholders are guaranteed a payout after two years if they die, as long as the premiums are paid when due. If death occurs within the first two years the premiums will be refunded in full unless the death is the result of an accident in which case the full benefit amount will be paid. None of the plans have any cash-in value at any time.
*Depending on how long they live, policyholders may pay in more than Legal & General will pay out in benefit. Premiums stop on the policyholder’s 90th birthday but cover continues to be reviewed for their life, for the Increasing and Funeral plans. • Legal & General Assurance Society Limited. Registered office: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. • The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be relied upon by private investors or any other persons to make financial decisions.