Not included in a funeral plan
Funeral plans are generally sold in several standard formats, with increasing “extras” as the cost rises. It is absolutely crucial to read the companies brochures and terms of business to be clear on what is and what is not included.
Most funeral plans can be amended to allow extra money to be available towards whatever extras you want – one company will allow you to pay in as much as £20,000!
In general, the point of a prepaid funeral plan is to cover the basics, not to add in all the bells and whistles which some funeral directors (especially big conglomerates) will try to get the grieving relatives to spend hard earned cash on, especially if there is no prepaid plan in place. Separate issues are Cut Down Plans and Over 50s Insurance, both of which do not give what many people expect, because they either don’t read the small print or simply do not understand what it means in practical terms. No one really wants a funeral plan where the funeral could end up being 50 miles away at crack of dawn, or one where you miss a couple of payments and lose every penny!
Direct Funeral Plans are a bit of a Marmite product too.
These are things which are not usually included in a standard funeral plan, and you should tell us if any of them are especially important to you:
· Flowers – more expensive plans often give a small wreath. None included in most funeral plans.
· Embalming: much upsold by funeral directors but (in our opinion) rarely necessary as even if family wish to view the body sometime later, it should have been refrigerated to keep it looking OK. All embalming does is preserve the body and damage the environment.
· Church services normally add significantly to the cost, and there is no standard charge, although people are often convinced there will be no charge, things change. Please tell us if you want to allow for a church service, or any other “extras.”
· Second journeys: such as, where the undertaker has to go to the Church the night before (common with Catholics), or the Church and then the crematorium, or where a special “farewell tour” route is requested which is further. These are not included in a funeral plan generally.
· Viewing of the deceased: most plans (apart from Direct Cremation) will allow it, but usually only during office hours, not evenings or weekends.
· Order of Service – some more expensive plans include a printed order of service, but most do not, as many families will produce perfectly good ones at home.
· Memorials are not included nor is removal and re-engraving of existing memorials. For cremations, the ashes are normally available for collection is a fairly basic urn, and the undertaker will try to sell you a much posher one. Visit eBay first!
· Burial plots are not included, and advance purchase is sensible only if the lease on the plot is long enough.
· Expensive crematorium: Dignity charge £995 (June 2018) which can be more than the total available allowance for third party costs on some plans.
· Expensive celebrants – most plans including a service allow a cost equal to the fee normally charged by a Church of England minister. But some charge more than twice as much, and there may not be enough to pay all of their fees, so may not be included in a funeral plan.
· Repatriation – if you die abroad, then it is usually cheaper to have the funeral out there, and a smaller celebration back here. Bringing you back from abroad can be very, very expensive. For those of you spending part of your time abroad, choosing the right funeral plan provider is really important. Make sure your travel insurance covers as much as possible, which may solve the problem, otherwise it definitely is not included in a funeral plan.
· Most people die within 20 miles of home, and that is roughly what most firms include. The extra cost of being taken back home rises as the journey lengthens, so you should tell us if this is a significant possibility, as some funeral plan providers are more generous than others, and it might just change our recommendation. If your children live in Cornwall and Scotland, and you live in Milton Keynes, this could be a significant extra cost if you expire while visiting one of them!
· Newspaper Notices are generally not included in funeral plans, as the cost varies widely, and many families don’t bother.
· Instalment plans: if you are paying on a monthly basis, if you have got halfway through the payments, some plans will pay for half the funeral, others will ask your family to pay the rest of the installments before the funeral, which is much more generous.
· With some plans you get no choice of time or location of the ceremony: we dislike these plans as you can end up with a service 50 miles from home as the crow flies at 8.30 am – so your saving a few hundred pounds might mean everyone needing to stay in a hotel or risk missing the funeral. We call them cut down plans.
· No one includes the cost of a wake or other celebration, but, like most things, you can add an allowance for it if you wish too.
So that is a summary of the main things which are often are not included in a funeral plan, though I am sure there are others. Normal funeral plans start with the intention of paying for the undertaker, the cremation, and a minister or celebrant. For burial, they are intended to cover the cost of digging and refilling a grave, but not of buying it.
So talk to us, we will recommend what we consider the most appropriate prepaid funeral plan, but we still ask you to read the brochure and terms of business carefully to ensure it covers as much as possible of what you would wish for. Funeral plans do not cover everything!