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sun life over 50

Funeral Bills Getting Very Large – What To Do

January funeral bills could exceed £495million.

Provisions left by the deceased will only cover 70% of their funeral bills.

January typically sees highest death rate in the year with 60,888 deaths registered in January 2015.1

  • Provisions left by the deceased will only cover 70% of their funeral bills.
  • Friends and family are left to pay £2,449 each which could total £150 million.
  • One in seven will be forced into debt as a result of paying for loved ones’ funeral costs.
Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

January is a tough month thanks to almost six weeks between pay days, Christmas to pay for and many of us thinking of booking our summer holiday. Now, new research from SunLife has found it’s also the month with the highest funeral bills of the year. And, because we only make sufficient provision to cover 70% of our own funeral bills, loved ones could be faced with a £150m funeral bill this month putting even more pressure on family finances.

SunLife’s research2 shows that two in five (42%) don’t make any financial provision for their own funeral, and of those that do, only 70% of the total cost is covered, which leaves friends and family are left to pay the shortfall – £2,449 on average – putting one in seven into financial difficulty.

Of those, half have to borrow money- either from friends or relatives (21%), the bank or a loan provider (8%) or via a credit card (21%) – while one in seven (14%) had to sell belongings.

Graham Jones, Commercial Director at SunLife said: “It can cause loved ones a great deal of added stress at a difficult time if no provisions are in place so it’s important to consider making some plans.”

“There are a number of options – the most popular is through savings and investments (60%), while prepaid funeral plans are becoming more popular – 27% had one in place compared to 24% last year while just over a quarter (26%) had a life insurance plan in place.”

ENDS

1. Deaths registered in England and Wales, ONS

2. SunLife’s annual Cost of Dying 2015 report found the cost of dying is now £8,126, while the cost of a basic funeral is £3,693

£8,126 (cost of dying 2015) x 51,940 (average deaths Jan 2011-2015) = £422,064,440

£8,126 (cost of dying 2015) x 60,888 (deaths in Jan 2015) = £494,775,888

£2,449 (shortfall) X 51,940 (average deaths Jan 2011-2015) = £127,201,060

£2,449 (shortfall) x 60,888 (deaths in Jan 2015) = £149,114,712

Cost of Dying Goes Through The Roof….

Cost of dying rockets in 2014.

Prepaying for a funeral becomes far more attractive as Sun Life report that the cost of dying has risen 7 times more than the cost of living in the 12 months to October 2014.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

So it won’t be long before the cost of new prepaid funeral plans rises to catch up – with some rises already on the cards. So save more by contacting us promptly, even if that means you need to spread the cost.

Cost of dying rises from £7,619 to £8,427 in just 12 months

– that is an extra £807 for the family to find.

The costs other than the funeral itself include probate, headstones and flowers.
The funeral cost (accounting for less than half the total cost of dying) has also risen sharply at more than twice the rate of inflation to £3,590 (a rise of 3.9% since 2013 and a staggering 87% higher than in Sun Life’s first survey in 20043).

Over half “save” with DIY Probate to reduce cost of dying.

More than 50% now choose to carry out the probate / estate administration themselves (and more are using DI Probate help to make it easier.)

DIY funeral planning

A 39% rise in estate administration costs contributed significantly to this year’s total cost of dying increase. The average cost of hiring a professional, such as a solicitor to help manage the affairs of a deceased loved one, now accounts for more than a third of the overall cost. (For those who don’t want to do it themselves, The Probate Department Ltd offers pretty reasonable terms and is happy to let the family help.)

The Report says that 52% are now choosing to the DIY probate route now – kast year it was just 39%!

Too poor to die – the family can’t afford it!

Funeral poverty (the national funeral funding shortfall) now stands at nearly £200 million, 125% higher than four years ago. That will only get worse, unless more people invest in prepaid funeral plans.   Most families could afford to invest in one funeral plan to be used by the first to die, but it is not a standard option (but The Prepaid Funeral Review team can advise.)

Sun Life predicts funeral costs will rise to an estimated £4,489 by 2019.

The national average cost of dying figure masks significant variations at a regional level, with the average cost in the London area now a staggering £10,498. Meanwhile, the least expensive place to die is Northern Ireland where the average cost is £5,893 though the family might complain about the ferry costs (;-))

SunLife’s marketing director David Brooks comments: 
“The death of a loved one is already a very difficult time. Yet financial worries and debt can make the experience of planning a funeral even more distressing.

“All our research shows that planning, however small, really helps and we urge families to break the taboo of talking about death and share their wishes. Not planning properly for your own passing can cause a significant financial burden on the people left behind – increasing the emotional distress even further.”

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society, adds:
”The costs associated with the end of life are rising and it is worrying that people are not prepared for what they may have to face. It is important to remember that at a time of great emotional upheaval, the financial implications of someone dying are not simply about money. They also include questions of who is responsible for the funeral and the estate, and their administration. Putting some plans in place while you are in reasonable health, however informal or formal, big or small, can go a long way to facilitating a smoother passage for those left behind.”

So why not cut the cost of dying by contacting the Prepaid Funeral Review team today?

Funeral Plan Sales rise 12%

The Funeral Planning Authority has announced that prepaid funeral plan sales have risen to a total of 135,160 in the last year.   This is a big rise on the sales of 120,731 recorded in 2012. We suspect that in subsequent years the figures will be much higher as prepaying for your own funeral becomes a natural event to protect those left behind.

Funeral Plans becoming the norm.

In some countries, most funerals are organised via prepaid funeral plans, but the UK has been a bit slow off the mark.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

There are now in excess of 860,000 prepaid funeral plans in existence a figure which is growing rapidly as more and more people take out funeral plans as they hit their 50s.  Last year just over 57,000 funerals where arranges for folk who had taken the wise precaution of taking out a prepayment funeral plan.  These figures don’t cover funeral plan firms which are not regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority, and there are major sales teams who are outside and thus not included in the figures.

As independent Funeral Plan advisers, we know that the plans differ wildly, and the best way to get a plan which is the most suitable for you is not to talk to lots of funeral plan salespeople  and try to read between the lines, it is to contact us.  We are INDEPENDENT and we are on your side.

Over 50’s “Funeral Plans” Sales boom, sadly!

Insurance linked “funeral plans” continue to vastly outsell proper funeral plans which actually do prepay funerals rather than just provide a lump sum of cash which has been eaten away by inflation.

Why?  Because people don’t understand the market.  Most over 50’s plans are insurance contract pure and simple, and they can be sold without advice as they don’t have a cash value.  In most cases, you could miss a payment or two as you ill, and the cover (and all the money paid in) has gone.

To quote Martin Lewis in The Telegraph:

He’s a lovely man, that Parky – just don’t listen to him when it comes to insurance. Michael Parkinson’s caring voice-over makes Axa Sun Life’s Over-50s Plan seem simple, yet for many it’s a seriously bad bet. You wouldn’t buy a lottery ticket if it cost more than the jackpot, but the two million people with these types of policies risk doing just that.

You may have gathered we think these plans should be very much a last resort, and they are certainly no substitute for a proper prepaid funeral plan, which is designed to prepay all or most of the funeral costs.  But do click on the link above if you are still tempted, and read more about Over 50’s plans.

 

Cost of Dying 2013

Rest in Poverty – Cost Of Dying Up AGAIN

The cost of dying continues to rise faster than inflation – read our comments on Sun Lifes’ funeral plans.  Their Cost of dying press release follows:

4th September 2013

  • Cost of dying up 7.1% since 2012 with a significant postcode lottery
  • Funeral cost up 80% since 2004 – average funeral now £3,456
  • Sun Life Direct projects the average cost of a funeral will rise to over £4,300 by 2018
  • National funeral poverty now £131 million – up 50% in three years1

Sun Life Direct, the expert in the cost of dying, has today published the findings from its 2013 annual Cost of Dying Report2. The cost of dying (including death-related costs such as probate, headstones and flowers in addition to the basic cost of a funeral) has risen above inflation3 and now stands at £7,622, an increase of 7.1% on 2012.

Specifically, the average cost of a funeral has also continued to rise well above inflation and now stands at £3,456, a 5.3% increase on 2012 and 80% higher than when the funeral costs survey was first conducted in 20044. Burials are much more expensive than cremations with the average burial at £3,914, costing almost £1,000 more than the average cremation at £2,998.

The increase in funeral costs is commonly attributed to funeral directors. However the increase this year is mainly due to the rise in disbursement fees5 – in particular cremation and burial fees which are usually controlled by local authorities. Since 2007 burial fees have risen by 69% and cremation fees by 51%.

Discretionary funeral costs (extra funeral costs beyond the basics such as family flowers, catering, and limos) also recorded a rise. The average cost of funeral extras increased by £83 to £2,006 (4.3%), with the cost of a memorial accounting for a large part of this expenditure (43%) at £864.

These rises come as research reveals many continue to struggle with funeral costs. Almost one in five people (18%) who have organised a funeral in the past four years struggled, with the average shortfall rising from £1,246 to £1,277 year on year. Total funeral poverty (the national funeral funding shortfall) now stands at just over £131 million, over 50% higher than the £85 million figure of three years ago1.

Moreover, the situation is only anticipated to worsen over the coming years. Sun Life Direct research projects that funeral costs will continue to rise significantly, with the average cost expected to be as much as £4,326 in 2018, proving unaffordable for many more.

The national average cost of dying figure (including death-related costs such as probate, headstones and flowers in addition to the basic cost of a funeral) masks significant variations at a regional level with the average cost of dying in the London area now standing at a staggering £9,556, significantly higher than the national average. The least expensive place to die is Wales where the average cost stands at £6,096.

Melanie Rees, Head of Brand, Sun Life Direct, comments:

“As over 100,000 people struggle to pay for a funeral this year, an important message for everyone should be to do something to prepare, however small. The death of a loved one is a difficult time, and is only compounded by financial worries over how to pay for the funeral. Drawing on savings can be one way to cover the cost. However, as funeral poverty stands at just over £131 million, savings are clearly not an option for everyone. In old age, savings can deplete; advising people to rely on money they may not even have is irresponsible and more financial options should be available. As funeral poverty has increased 50% in just three years, something must be done as a matter of urgency before more families are unable to give their loved ones the send-off they deserve”.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, lecturer in Sociology, University of Bath, concludes:

“It is disappointing that the number of people who struggle to afford a funeral shows no sign of abating. Funeral poverty has increased more than 50% in the last three years and it is likely that this will continue. The notable postcode lottery of funeral costs, especially in terms of cremation and burial costs, is particularly troubling. People need to realise that death is one of the few certainties in life and must be addressed ahead of time so that plans can be made with regard to who will pay for their funeral, and how. Not everyone has to choose the same funeral and costs can vary, but these need to be discussed with family and friends to make sure proper provisions are made.”

ENDS

1 18% of respondents said they would struggle to meet funeral costs and the average funding shortfall was £1,277. Using the annual death rate of about 570,000, this means that over 100,000 people in the UK would have difficulty meeting funeral expenses, putting UK funeral poverty at £131 million. This represents a 50% increase in funeral poverty on 2010’s £85 million.

2 Sun Life Direct Cost of Dying Survey 2013.

3 The rate of consumer prices index (CPI) inflation in the United Kingdom was recorded at 2.8% in July 2013 (Office for National Statistics).

4 The basic cost of a funeral is made up of funeral director’s costs, doctor’s fees, fees for a religious or secular service and burial or cremation fees.

5 Disbursement fees are funeral costs that are outside of the funeral directors’ control: Burial fees, Cremation Fees, Doctors fees, Ministers fees.

 

Government Funeral Payment is Rubbish

Government Funeral Payment is Rubbish – Discuss.

As Funeral Poverty hits a record £118 million this report shows the emotional and financial distress families suffer when “begging” the state for support with the cost of funeral payments.

  • Almost  half of 69,000 applications for a Funeral Payment (FP) rejected
  • So-called “pauper’s funerals” (Public Health Funerals) expected to rise as it becomes “too expensive for poor people to die”
  • Funeral Payment applicants forced into debt by committing to funeral cost of £1,000s prior to finding out if they will receive state support

A Cost of Dying Special Report into Social Fund Funeral Payments from Sun Life Direct and the University of Bath  show that the Funeral Payment scheme, intended to contribute to the cost of funerals for the most vulnerable in society, is failing to meet growing need. Funeral inflation at 7% plus a year does not go well with Government cutbacks: a growing older population is likely to bring ever-increasing pressure on an already stretched system.

There were not far short of 70,000 applications were made for a Funeral Payment last year. Almost half were thrown out, leaving vast numbers of vulnerable people forced to consider a  “pauper’s funeral” or getting into debt.  Even if you do get help from the Governments Funeral scheme a typical sum loan of £1,217 compares rather poorly with 2012s average cost of £3,091 for a funeral, leaving many with an large debt to pay if there is not enough money in the estate.

The study demonstrates that the Government Funeral Payment Scheme is out of touch with reality. The application process through which family members are assessed is confusion and relies on Victorian notions of the ‘nuclear family’, taking no notice of the closeness of actual relationships and whether or not anyone wishes to contribute towards the funeral. Survey respondents were often left feeling confused, frustrated and a sense of shame when applying for help. The process was also felt to be damaging claimants’ physical and emotional health, especially as over 50% were getting treatment for depression, anxiety and insomnia.

The UK is poor in the provision of state support for those who cannot afford a funeral.  Death is considered a private event, not something for which State help should be common.   You can see that this is a painful and humiliating position for those left behind where no provision has been made for funeral costs.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bath and author of the report, comments: “Quite simply, it is becoming too expensive for poor people to die. Thousands of the most vulnerable in society are being let down by a system of state support that lacks coherence and is so unclear that some applicants have to resort to alternative means to organise a funeral. One participant in the study decided to undertake a DIY funeral, buying her mother’s coffin from the internet and picking up the body from the hospital in her car. She subsequently sold the car to generate cash to pay for the funeral costs.”

The UK’s ageing demographic is just making the problem of state support for funerals worse every year. The number of applications rejected for a Funeral Payment increased by 6.9 per cent, and this is likely to get worse as the death rate is forecast to rise by 17 per cent each year for the next fifteen years. With rising concerns about pensioner poverty and the cost of social care, having sufficient resources on hand to pay for a funeral is set to become an issue for a growing number of people.   This is where the services of the Prepaid Funeral Review can make a big difference: early planning can put at least basic precautions in place, prevent the erosion of benefits by funds earmarked for funerals (which may earn 0.5% interest when the cost of funeral is rising 14 times faster than that) and put plans in place which will cost nothing if the “poor” relative proves not to be quite as poor as expected.

Simon Cox, of Sun Life Direct, says: “We have to ask ourselves whether the current infrastructure for end of life support is fit for purpose. Something must be done, and quickly. A good starting point would be to address the issue of timing. More often than not the claimant will need to commit to funeral payment prior to confirmation whether they will receive support. Bereaved people must know what they will receive before they agree to taking on debts, otherwise we will see the most vulnerable caught in a spiral of debt and distress.”

Stephen Pett of the Prepaid Funeral Review says “It is crystal clear both that the Government Funeral Payment System is both woefully inadequate and humiliating for those who need to apply.  Things are not going to get any better in the next 20 years, if ever, so it is up to family groups to get advice and organise prepaid funeral plans with the flexibility to deal with these situations if and when they arise without imposing a sudden and unexpected burden on those left grieving.”

Government Funeral Payment is Rubbish