Category Archives: Your Questions

Crowdfunding Funerals is rising

Crowdfunding funerals is on the rise says the BBC.

A reader asks whether crowding funding is a viable option for your own funeral.  Clearly, they are wondering if is worth putting away your own money to buy a funeral plan.  Why bother when you can leave the problem to lots of other people?

The problem will be whether there are enough family and friends ready willing and able to send a decent sized contribution in quickly enough.  In the circumstances, the funeral director will certainly require the full fee to be paid before the funeral can take place.

In some cases, crowdfunding funeral campaigns have succeeded in paying for funerals – like that of the popular Big issue seller in York. But are you popular enough? Will people just think your family are after a free ride and could perfectly well pay for the funeral themselves.  In that case, crowdfunding could misfire badly.

We think it has its uses, but they certainly do not include crowdfunding funerals for ordinary people.  Tragic circumstances and lots of sympathy and folk with spare cash are probably needed to make this sort of fundraising work.  But if you feel the need to potentially be charitable, we know of some funeral plans which can be donated to third parties without penalty.

Crowdfunding is not usually free, a typical commission of 5% is taken from the proceeds, which is perfectly fair.

But do they guarantee that the cause is genuine and the funds are going to help a sick child not to fund an exotic holiday for a fraudster? Not that we can see – they seem to leave the “due diligence” to each and every contributor. I am sure some crowdfunding platforms are better than others but you need to be sure before you use one.

So crowdfunding is at the early stages of development, and we’re sure it will end up being heavily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  That would dramatically put up costs and make the whole process much more cumbersome.

Can I Buy A Funeral Plan For

Can I buy a funeral plan for my parents?

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Yes indeed, you can buy a funeral plan for your parents.   Clearly, you should ensure that the right people know that the funeral plan has been arranged.  In particular should the parents be in any form of residential care, it is crucial that the carers are fully aware of the procedure or they could accidentally cause problems by calling the wrong firm.

 

Can I buy a funeral plan for my staff?

Once again, you certainly can.   Some firms keep a funeral plan or two “in stock” so they can immediately step in and gift the plan if an employee or their spouse or child dies.  The gesture is seen as incredibly positive by other staff members.  But is is not overly expensive as in most cases people will have retired before they expire.  We can also arrange special terms for employers to offer as a Staff Benefit if they wish.

Can I buy a funeral plan for a disabled friend or relative?

Once again, for those with the spare cash to do so, or a sudden windfall, it is a way of allowing for a dignified departure for those whose finances might otherwise condemn them to a paupers funeral.

Can I buy a funeral plan for the whole family?

Slightly trickier this one.  If you can afford to buy a funeral plan yourself, it is possible with some providers to donate that to another family member (or indeed a friend) when they die. You would then have to buy a replacement, probably paying far more for it though! You can of course, buy funeral plans for every family member if you can afford it!  But more usually it is about clubbing together to pay in advance for the inevitable – but not being sure who will actually use the plan.

If the family need to work together to afford a funeral plan, it can be funded from a bank account into which as many family members as possible contribute.  The funds would buy one plan to start with, then continue to buy further plans as each plan is fully paid off.  We can supply a formal agreement as to contributions and who should benefit to avoid disputes when someone does die.   Clearly, a single plan can only be used once.

Who can I buy a funeral plan for?

Who can I buy a funeral plan for?

What Costs Do Funeral Plans Cover in the UK?

What Costs Do Funeral Plans Cover?

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral plans are all different, so they will vary from what we would consider to be “normal.” But this will help you to consider what costs you wish your funeral plan to cover.   Most people want to cover the basics, not spend £20,000 on it!

So what costs do funeral plans cover ideally?

  1. Most funeral plans are sold by or on behalf of funeral directors, so their first concern is to ensure that the funeral director gets paid! That is probably just over half the total on average, and includes the cost of a normal coffin, a simple urn and local transport.  Some plans will cover nothing other than the funeral directors fees.
  2. The next biggest cost is the cost of cremation or burial.   Funeral plans typically make an allowance for the cost of cremation or burial which is index linked and which is expected to be adequate in most areas.
  3. They do NOT cover the cost of a burial plot. These can be incredibly expensive in some areas if they are even available.  If you have a family plot, then that can be indicated on the funeral plan which will generally cover the cost of adding you provided that there is space and that you have the right to be buried in the family plot.  Best to confirm that in advance!
  4. Most funeral plans also cover the cost of a ceremony at the crematorium, the fee for a minister or celebrant, and the doctors fee.

A special Case – Direct Cremation Funeral Plans.

These plans pay for the collection and transport of the deceased to a crematorium convenient for the funeral director and cremation. There is no right of family involvement, no viewing of the body and the cremation is likely to take place in the early morning possibly hundreds of miles away.   They have their place but we try to avoid them!

What Costs Do Funeral Plans NOT Cover?

  1. The cost of a church service is usually extra, especially if you are to be buried or cremated elsewhere.  It simply takes up more of the funeral directors time both with staff and the car. The same applies if the coffin is to stay in the church (etc.) the previous night. Most churches charge, as do ministers, but some will not charge for members.
  2. Eco friendly or posh coffins cost more than standard ones. Cardboard coffins have to be heavily re-enforced so they are not a cheap option either!
  3. These days most families meet the undertaker at the crematorium.  But some want a procession from the home, sometimes past favourite spots, so more time and cost.
  4. Flowers are usually not included, though they and things like orders of service printing are not covered in standard funeral plans.   The more expensive plans often do include that sort of thing, or you can add in an extra allowance.
  5. Public notices of death in the local paper are not normally included either.
  6. Limousines are not supplied in standard plans (just the hearse to carry the coffin and the funeral directors staff.)  Most funeral plans offer a standard plan, then one with a limousine, and a top end one with two limousines.   The more expensive the plan, the more extras are generally included.   But don’t confuse a high price with more services and better value – it might just be an expensive funeral plan company!  Which is why you need our help to find best value and (often) a discount.
  7. Where the family intend to keep the ashes rather than spread them, the funeral director will recommend a posher container (urn) rather than the standard basic afair.
  8. Choirs, wakes, videos, live broadcasting, decoration, invitations etc are not included, though some top end plans may include invitations,

Life Insurance for funerals. What costs do life they cover?

Generally speaking, life insurance sets up an amount to be paid out on your death, provided you have paid every single one of the premiums. It does not cover any specific costs, it just provides a cash sum.  There is usually no increase from the amount you buy initially, so a few years inflation will increase the gap between the insurance payout and funeral costs.

What costs do funeral plans cover?

Government Funeral Payments

Government Funeral Payments: Who Qualifies?

Funeral Plan Quotes

Plan ahead if you can: Funeral Plan Quotes

Those on low incomes may be able to get a Government Funeral Payment if you are arranging for a funeral and need help paying for it. It won’t cover much, but it is potentially a help. However, you should first see if:

  1. They have a prepaid funeral plan certificate. At the moment there is no central register to check, unfortunately.
  2. They have some sort of life insurance to pay for the funeral (check bank statements or look for a policy document.)
  3. If the deceased had money in the bank, the bank will normally release funds direct to the funeral director.       What they will NOT do is re-imburse you if you pay personally. Then you would have to wait until probate had been granted, if it proved necessary.

How much you get depends on your circumstances and if you qualify.

You will generally have to pay it back from the deceased person’s estate if it has any money or property. If they leave a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, then most other assets are ring fenced.

The Government Funeral Payment can help pay for burial, cremation, doctors fees, up to £700 for funeral expenses, travel, the costs for moving the body within the UK ­ but only for the part of the journey that’s over 50 miles.

If the person who died had a pre­paid funeral plan, then you can only get help for things not covered – see the list on the claim form.

The money is most usually paid direct to he funeral director

To get a Goverment Funeral Payment you must be

  • responsible for the funeral and:
  • claim in time – within 3 months of the funeral.
  • get certain benefits or tax credits – you can still claim if you are waiting for a decision on whether or not you qualify, though that might delay payment.
  • meet the rules on your relationship with the deceased (theyare different if the person died outside the UK.)

Who can claim the Governments Funeral Payment?

You must be either:

  • the partner of the deceased at the time of death or
  • a close relative or close friend of the deceased or
  • the parent of a baby stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or
  • the parent of the deceased child, if they were under 16 (or under 20 and not in full­time education.)
  • If the parent is ‘absent’, you must be responsible for the child and the absent parent must get a qualifying benefit.

Qualifying benefits:

You (or your partner) must get 1 of:

  • Income Support
  • income­based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • income­related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit
  • one of the extra elements of Child Tax Credit.
  • Universal Credit

How much you get also depends on any other money available, eg from an insurance policy or the deceased’s estate.

If there’s a close relative of the deceased who isn’t getting one of the qualifying benefits you may not be able to claim Funeral Payment.

  1. How to claim the Governments Funeral Payment.

You can claim a Funeral Payment using form SF200 or over the phone 0345 606 0265 if you are in England and Wales. NI has other arrangements.

You can then either sen the form to: Balham Benefit Centre, Freepost RTGG­ZBGG­HYHT, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton WV98 1HJ or take it to your local Jobcentre Plus.

 

 

 

 

What is the Funeral Planning Authority?

Dignity brings clarity to consumers regarding the Funeral Planning Authority.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Non members are delighted that consumers will now be rather clearer on the real role of the Funeral Planning Authority.  It has great intentions, but at the end of the day it is a Trade Association and not an official Regulator.

Safe Hands had a discussions with a Building Society who had misleading statements on their website about (in this case) Dignity. The website said “Dignity is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the official body that oversees companies who offer funeral plans” –

Safe Hands  are grateful that Dignity have officially requesting all of their resellers amend the reference to “Dignity is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the professional body that oversees the operation of registered funeral plan companies,”  This has gone some way to making clear the true role of the Funeral Planning Authority and removing the impression that non members are necessarily less well regulated.  The name is could be considered a little misleading.  But this correction does at least mean that consumers are given the correct information.

Safe Hands say “Our stance on the FPA has always been quite clear. Whilst we appreciate the merits of any self-regulated body designed to protect the consumer, the public opinion that the FPA is in some way a) Official or b) an Authority is deeply concerning as this is simply not the case.”

It is fair to say that Safe Hands are not fans of the FPA! They feel, from what we can gather, that it is a bit of a gentlemans club, asking members to behave decently and not to “cold call.”  Its members are also asked to consider the possibility of looking after the funds of any member who goes out of business. Not that that is likely, and client funds should always be ring-fenced anyway.  Safe Hands say “This is far from a concrete arrangement in our view and leaves a great deal of ambiguity.”

We believe that any trade association which helps to improve the ethics and standing of its’ members is a good thing, but we do agree that the “Authority” part of the Funeral Planning Authority title is a little misleading to those who just take it at face value as an official body.

(See our Dignity funeral plan review.)