Cost of Dying Rises Again

Fifth Annual Cost of Dying Report from Sun Life

The cost of dying (including related costs such as probate, headstones and flowers) increased to an average of  £7,248, representing a big increase of 20% in just 5 years.  The cost is up £400 since last years Report. Funeral costs have risen over 60% in a mere seven years. The Cost of Dying Report suggests the trend of above inflation rises in the cost of dying will continue. The Sun Life report demonstrates this inflation has caused  both surprise and concern among the public, who are often shocked by the financial cost when a relative dies and has not made advance plans.  It is almost as if a good percentage of people think they are immortal!

Much of the UK public haven’t given serious thought to planning for end of life, the Cost of Dying Report shows.

The cost of dying includes:

This means that many final wishes will remain unfulfilled.   Confusion and confrontation are often the main inheritance of those left. We are becoming far more reliant on our families in our declining years. Nearly half of respondents admitted they had not considered funding their funeral.  Why?  Apparently they expected family and friends to organise and pay it!  Apart from mentioning vague funeral wishes organising their Last Will, telling family and friends is the most common way in which those surveyed prepared their end of life plans.  This is a pretty vague way to prepare, and can (and does) cause misunderstanding.

Sun Life Cost of Dying survey spotlights confused attitudes around end of life planning.  It also raises wider concerns.   We are facing several related later life problems.

  1. Baby-boomers are getting old and sheer number of  older people living longer and longer create a surge in demand on the state over the next decades.
  2. This and other reports (especially Dilnot) show we face substantially growing end of life costs and fuzzy ideas about who will pay for what.
  3. The Cost of Dying report finds many people neither plan for nor prepare financially for the end of their lives. For example,  the planning of, and payment for, funerals, estate administration or of  Last Wills, and Lasting Power of Attorney’s and then end of life care.

The head of life planning for Sun Life, comments on the Cost of Dying report:

“Many people are sleepwalking into a financial nightmare, leaving their end of life plans to either their families, the State or no-one at all. As a nation we need a wake-up call. Our research indicates that although there is indeed some openness in talking about death, action is still greatly lacking. Steps need to be taken to avert the sort of distress and concern experienced by the nearly one in five (100,000 people) who struggle with funeral costs.”

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

“A key concern for society is whether the current infrastructure established to support people at the end of their life is fit for purpose today. Currently the number of deaths each year in England and Wales is at an all time low, with 491,348 deaths registered in 2009. It is anticipated however that the number of deaths will rise significantly and by 2030 there will be an additional 80,000 people dying a year. This equates to a rise of 17% in the death rate in less than 20 years.

“At the same time, people are living longer and as a result are using more resources, both their own and the State’s. Costs for social care are rising, living standard expectations are high, and there remains an expectation that wealth is passed through the generations. The relationship between the public, commercial and voluntary sectors in the resourcing and provision of care, information, advice, support and services in old age and in planning for death is open to debate.”

The complete report expands on the following findings:

  • This year’s headline figures and key changes from last year.
  • The extent to which end of life planning takes place.
  •  Barriers to planning.
  •  Confused and contradictory attitudes towards the role of families, the                State and ourselves in relation to planning.
  • Who we turn to for advice and support on end of life matters.
  • Suggestions on how the end of life time bomb might be defused.

We at the Prepaid Funeral Review can help with many of these matters.  Why not contact us?