Prepaid funeral plans

Prepaid funeral plans

What are prepaid funeral plans and should you buy one?

The rising cost of funerals means many people are turning to prepaid plans – where you pay for your own funeral in advance, to cover costs such as a coffin, cremation or burial. But you need to check the plan covers everything you're expecting before you stump up the cash. This guide helps you compare what's on offer and decide whether you should actually get one.

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What is a prepaid funeral plan?

A prepaid funeral plan allows you to pay for a funeral in advance, either for yourself or for someone else. Many of the costs associated with a funeral, such as a coffin and a hearse, are covered. So, if a prepaid plan is in place when you die, your loved ones will have less to organise and pay toward your funeral. Plans can usually be taken out by anyone aged over 50, although some providers allow people as young as 18 to buy one.

With the average cost of a basic funeral now almost £4,000, a fifth of all UK funerals are paid for in advance via a prepaid funeral plan. Don't rush into buying one before carefully reading this guide, though, as they aren't suitable for everyone.

Funeral plans are NOT currently regulated – but they will be from 29 July 2022

You'll have greater protection when taking out a prepaid funeral plan after 29 July this year, as from then the sector will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). So if you're considering buying one, it's likely best to hold off until then.

If you are buying a plan now, check the status of the provider's application to the FCA – don't buy a plan from a provider if its status is 'not applying for authorisation', 'application refused' or 'application withdrawn'.

Already have a funeral plan?

On 17 June, the FCA announced a list of those funeral plan providers that it intends to regulate. If your provider isn't on the FCA's list of firms, it's best to check the status of its application.

If you already have a plan in place and your provider hasn't applied for FCA authorisation yet, or isn't going to apply, it should contact you to tell you what's happening with your plan. If you haven't heard from your provider, contact it.

The FCA has said it'll allow a limited transitional period for unauthorised firms to continue providing funerals until 31 October 2022 - provided they meet specific criteria. These firms will be able to provide funerals during the transitional period, but can’t sell new plans.

 

  • How will the industry change from 29 July 2022?

    From 29 July 2022, the FCA will start regulating firms that provide and arrange prepaid funeral plans. The FCA says that from this date: 

    • All providers will need to be FCA-authorised or they'll be shut down. Firms can apply for authorisation now.

    • Customers will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) should a provider fail. The FSCS can either ensure your funeral contract is carried out as planned, or pay cash compensation from an underlying trust or via insurance. 

    • You'll have 30 days after buying a plan to cancel penalty-free if you change your mind.

    • Funerals paid for in instalments must go ahead even if the customer dies before paying the final instalment. The only exception is if the customer dies within 24 months of purchasing the plan, in which case the plan provider won't be required to provide the service but must give a full refund.

    • Customers will be able to receive a partial refund if they choose to downgrade their plan.

    • Cold-calling will be banned and new advertising standards brought in to ensure plans are sold fairly.

    • Third parties, such as funeral directors, will not be allowed to receive a commission for selling a funeral plan.

    • The FCA will carry out checks on prepaid funeral plan sellers to ensure they stick to the rules.

    Also, from 29 July 2022, if you have a complaint against a funeral plan provider or intermediary, you'll be able to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service. If the issue happened before July 2022, you'll still be able to refer it to the ombudsman service, but only if the firm was registered with the Funeral Planning Authority.

    The regulation follows a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into the funeral sector as a whole, after years of spiralling above-inflation costs. There were a number of changes required from the CMA report, including some that had to be implemented in September 2021. One of these was that all funeral directors have to display a standardised price list.

Should I get a funeral plan?

Funeral plans can ease the burden on your family at a distressing time, but they won't be for everyone. We've pulled out these pros and cons to help you decide:

Buying in advance can help stop your family from being ripped off when in distress. Buying a plan in advance, when the purchase can be made in what's presumably a calmer, more rational state of mind, will take the pressure off your family financially and emotionally when the time comes to arrange your funeral.

It avoids cash-flow problems at a time of need. If you can afford the premiums now, funeral plans can help prevent cash-flow problems for your family in bereavement. Even if you've set aside funeral money, your family may not be able to access it in time to pay the bills if they have to wait for it due to legal process.

Prepaid plans are exempt from inheritance tax and may not count in care home assessments. Money towards a funeral plan is exempt from inheritance tax, which is helpful if your estate is liable.

Another bonus of buying a plan, rather than putting the money aside in a savings account, is your council might not count it if you're assessed for help towards care costs. However, if you're making this move to bring your money below a trigger threshold, it's important to check what savings limits your council sets.

A prepaid funeral plan could be good if you live in, or are moving to, an expensive area. Some large funeral plan providers have priced their packages, particularly for cremations, to work across big swathes of the UK. So, if you're in a location where funerals are pricey, you could make a saving buying a plan from a big national company.

If moving elsewhere is a real possibility, you should check any plan before you buy to see if you'll be a winner or a loser. Check to see if it will still apply and what charge, if any, you'd have to pay if you do end up wanting the funeral in a different place.

Some plans may pay out even if not all premiums are paid. Currently some providers will carry out a funeral even if the plan purchaser only paid the premiums for a year before they died and there were still payments to go. This is providing the plan would have been paid off before the holder had turned 80. From 29 July 2022, all funerals paid for by instalments must go ahead even if the customer dies before paying the final instalment (unless the plan was taken out less than two years before the customer died, in which case a full refund will be given).

It's possible you'll pay less with a prepaid plan. When you buy something before you need it, there's a risk that the price will change by the time you use it. But if funeral prices  go up, you'll have locked in a lower price with a prepaid plan.

Once you've had a look at the pros above, weigh up the following cons:

If prices of funerals come down, a prepaid plan may cost more. The reverse of the pro above, is that if funerals become cheaper, you'll lose out because the plan is based on current cost. It's a gamble.

If a funeral is expected within two years or less, you'll be paying for protection you don't need. One of the sales points on funeral plans has been price rise protection, but if you're going to need a funeral shortly, there's little gain from inflation-proofing, especially as the new rules (from 29 July) mean if you've had the plan less than two years, you'll just be refunded what you've paid – so you'll be back to square one anyway.

It's possible to find a funeral that costs less than a similar plan, so if you think you or your family will be cool-headed enough to compare prices and not succumb to upselling after a loved one has passed away, you may not need to buy a plan.

If a funeral is in a less expensive area you could lose out with a funeral plan. Burial and cremation costs behave in a similar way to property; they're all about location, location, location. If the funeral is going to take place in a less expensive area, you may find it cheaper to go with a small local providers bought at the time of need, rather than larger, more well-known companies, which have national pricing strategies.

A prepaid funeral plan may limit your choice of time and date. Cheaper plans are usually more restrictive about when the funeral can take place, often offering less-popular times which could prove less convenient for attendees.

You may have to wait for the funeral director to be free. Some plans may restrict the choice of funeral director, meaning there could be delays before the event can take place. This could hold up funerals for several weeks – even at quiet times of the year.

You may need the money to live off now. If you need the money desperately now, you'll need to consider whether a funeral plan is the right option for you. Also, bluntly, your funeral will then be down to your family to arrange, so won't be your problem. If there's enough money left in your estate when you die, the funeral can be paid for from that.

Prepaid funeral plans: the six need-to-knows

A funeral plan won't be the best option for everyone. So here we look at the six things you need to consider before you part with your cash and pay for a funeral in advance...

  • If you have the money to pay for a funeral plan now, it may be a good option for you. If you're the sort of person who likes to be in control, this option gives you the chance to do that. At the same time, it takes the financial and emotional pressure off your family when the time comes.

    A big boon of paying for your funeral now is that if prices do rise in future, your funeral plan is protected against inflation. For example, you buy a funeral plan costing £3,000 today, but don't die for another 10 years. If in that time the cost of everything increased (which is likely) and now the same funeral costs £5,000, as your funeral plan is protected, your family won't be asked to pay the £2,000 difference.

    However, third-party costs (such as cremation fees) may have risen, plus your family might have to pay extra depending on what guarantees were or weren't in the contract, so you need to check before taking out a plan. 

    And remember, if you're purchasing a plan before 29 July 2022, you need to make sure the funeral provider is registered with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA), otherwise your payments might not be protected as the provider won't necessarily be abiding by current regulations.

    Couldn't I just put the money aside in a savings account?

    An alternative to paying for your funeral in advance is to set aside cash for it in a savings account and let your family know what you want it to be used for. But they'd still have to make all the arrangements themselves and could find there's not enough money to cover the full costs.

    Another bonus of a funeral plan is that once paid for, it isn't counted towards your estate, so it would have no effect on how much inheritance tax you'd need to pay (if any). That's unlike money in a savings account, which does form part of your estate.

    And finally, having savings could affect your assessment for care homes and/or benefits, such as universal credit, pension credit or housing support. 

  • Most funeral plan providers have various payment options. There are typically four:

    • Pay for it all in one go. This is the most popular option if you have the lump sum. It means you won't have to worry about ongoing monthly payments which could cost extra, or any of your family having to make repayments if you die before you've finished paying it off.
    • Pay over 12 months. This is an option if you don't have the entire lump sum, but can clear the full amount within 12 months – as you're not usually charged extra. So in effect you're getting to pay off your plan interest-free for a year.

      But the downside is that if you die within the 12 months and haven't finished paying off the plan, your family will be asked for the remaining balance. If they don't pay, your plan could be cancelled and any money you've paid returned to your estate, minus a cancellation charge which could be as much as £800.
    • Spread the cost over 30 years. If you don't have the money now, or can't pay in under a year and you really want a funeral plan, you can spread your payments for up to 30 years. But the cost will typically be 10% more (though could be higher depending on how long you want to spread the payments for, cancelling out any saving on the funeral plan).

      If you die before repaying the full balance, your family will be asked to pay the remainder. If they don't, your plan may be cancelled for a hefty charge and any money you've already paid returned to your estate.

      There may be some exceptions though. Some plans, such as the Co-op's, pay out even if you haven't paid all the premiums, if certain conditions are met. With the Co-op, if you've been paying off a two to 25-year plan for over 12 months but pass away before it's paid up, it will carry out the funeral and not charge your family the remaining instalments.

      However, from 29 July 2022, under the new Financial Conduct Authority regulations, if you die within two years of taking out a plan, any payments you've made will be refunded. So you won't be any worse off.

      Plus, funerals paid for in instalments must go ahead even if the customer dies before paying the final instalment. So if you die within a few years of taking out your plan, you may end up paying less than if you'd have paid upfront.
    • Fixed monthly instalments until you reach 90 or die. Not many of these plans are sold anymore, but here you pay a fixed amount each month (it varies depending on your age) until you die or your 90th birthday, whichever is sooner. Generally, your fixed monthly payments would be lower than paying by the up to 30-year option above, but because you could potentially be paying over a much longer period, overall you'll likely be paying more – unless you die earlier than expected.

    With fixed monthly instalments, there's a real danger you could end up paying in more than the funeral will actually cost if you pay monthly until you die.

  • Many providers will let you choose between a cremation or burial funeral plan. The initial costs are similar for both, but watch out for any additional burial or cremation costs that may not be included, for example, the cost of a burial plot and a headstone, which can cost £1,000s extra.

    So before you buy a plan, it's vital to understand what is and isn't covered and make sure you budget for any extras that might not be included.

    What's usually included in a prepaid funeral plan:
    • Transport of the body to the funeral directors' location
    • Care of the body
    • Visiting the body in the chapel of rest
    • A coffin, hearse and funeral director personnel
    What's sometimes included depending on the plan:
    • Doctor's fees (totalling £164 and needed for cremations outside of Scotland)
    • Minister's or celebrant's fees
    • Limousines for mourners
    • Complete fees for the crematorium
    What's not included in a prepaid funeral plan:
    • Funeral notices
    • Order sheets
    • Embalming
    • Burial plot (this can cost £1,000s) and some burial fees
    • Flowers, catering and other costs for a wake
    • A headstone/memorial
  • Burial costs can vary dramatically. Buying a plot can cost just a few hundred pounds in remote rural locations, to £1,000s in cities and over £10,000 in some parts of London. This variation puts them outside plans – although some will permit any spare allowance to go towards the cost of a plot.

    Despite recent hikes in crematoria fees, cremations usually work out cheaper than burials because of the extra costs of buying a plot and then maintaining the site.

    You can cut burial costs by £100s or £1,000s
    • If you don't need to buy a plot because you've already got one, or are prepared to buy one to share, there will then only be £100s to pay for opening a grave. In some circumstances, total costs could work out less than cremations.
    • You could choose a plot in a cheaper location. Even though some councils charge £100s more for non-residents, it could still work out cheaper.
    • A natural burial or woodland site will be much cheaper than a council-owned site, but you'll need to ensure materials used are biodegradable.
    • A standard coffin sourced via an undertaker can cost about £350, but you may be able to source a biodegradable one for around £200.
    • If you are a member of a mosque or a synagogue, there may be special arrangements.
  • When you buy a funeral plan, you'll need to tell the provider which funeral director you want it to arrange your funeral with. If you later move from the location registered to your plan, you'll need to see if you can change funeral directors.

    Whether you can depends on if the plan provider works with funeral directors in the area you move to. The areas covered vary with providers, but the three biggest are the Co-op, Age Co (which uses Dignity) and Golden Charter.

    Plans specify how far a funeral director will go to collect a body. The mileage limit can vary, but what counts is whether there is a funeral director willing to take on your plan. Golden Charter, for example, works with a large number of directors so its collection mileage is limited to 25, whereas the Co-op and Dignity directors will go up to 50 miles.

    Many plan providers will allow you to choose another funeral director should you need to, but some may charge a fee to do it. Check the terms of your funeral plan carefully before buying.

  • The key thing to understand is that until 29 July 2022, the funeral plan market is not regulated. This means your money isn't currently protected like in a savings account – where the first £85,000 is safeguarded in the event of the bank or building society going bust.

    But from 29 July 2022, customers will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) should a provider fail. The FSCS will either arrange for the funeral to go ahead with another provider, or will pay cash compensation so you can fulfil the funeral service outside of the plan.

    Until then, there's a voluntary organisation set up by the industry to regulate providers, called the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA), which companies can choose to sign up to. It says 95% of funeral plans are currently offered by its registered providers, which must abide by a set of rules and codes of practice.

    Every funeral plan provider, whether FPA-registered or not, must legally invest the money to pay for the funeral separately, in an insurance policy with a regulated insurer or a trust fund with independent trustees. This should mean, if anything happens to the provider, the money is ring-fenced and protected, so it's not lost.

    If you buy a plan from an FPA-registered provider, then as part of its checks, the FPA will ensure the provider has invested your money properly. It'll also help with any complaints you have before the plan is put in place.

    If the funeral plan provider goes bust

    Your money being ring-fenced doesn't necessarily mean your funeral will still be covered if the funeral plan provider went bust, though if the provider is FPA-registered, the FPA will endeavour to make sure your funeral is delivered by another of its registered providers.

    Depending on the contract the provider had with the funeral director, if the provider went bust while you're still alive, it might just mean all your money is returned to you and you just won't get that particular funeral.

Where can I go for further help and free guidance?

If you need more help on funerals and their costs, you can get free and impartial guidance from the Government's Money Advice Service.

You can also turn to FuneralAdvice.org – a consumer-orientated website set up by the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors in response to the CMA's criticism of the difficulties faced by the public in choosing funeral options.

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Prepaid funeral plans compared

There are currently 28 funeral plan providers registered with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). Below are deals from big names all registered with the FPA: Age Co (whose plans are provided by Dignity), Co-op, and Golden Charter. They have a good combination of price and features – but we've not assessed service and have little feedback on them. Do let us know if you've taken out a plan, or a family member has used them.  

All three providers offer four packages based on price, from basic to top-level. The most popular plans are those in the middle: the standard and higher-level plans, which we've compared in the tables below. Yet you can see details of the other plans and compare deals through the links.

Standard plans 

With a standard plan, you get a choice of times and day of the week for the funeral, and a wood effect coffin is included. However, you won't get a mourners' limousine as part of the plan.

Standard funeral plan costs and providers

Plan provider and package Age Co – Ivy Golden Charter – Standard Co-op – Bronze
Cost (if paid in full) £3,470 £3,495 £3,595
No. of funeral directors to choose from 1,300  2,000+ 1,000+
Cremation costs covered? Yes Up to £1,100 Yes
Burial costs covered? (1)  Up to £1,220 and can be used on minister fees Up to £1,100 Yes, but not plot
Is a mourner's limo included? No No No
Minister's/celebrant's fees included? Yes for cremation, possibly for burials (2) Possibly (3) Yes
Are doctors' fees paid for? No Possibly (3) Yes

(1) Plots can cost £1,000s. (2) Can come out of £1,220 burial allowance. (3) Can come out of £1,100 cremation/burial allowance if there's enough money.

Higher-level plans 

With the higher-level plans, you get a mourners' limousine, a choice of times and day of the week for the funeral, and a "quality" wood effect coffin.

Higher-level funeral plan costs and providers

Plan provider and package Age Co - Holly Golden Charter – Select Co-op – Silver
Cost of plan (if paid in full) £3,825 £3,850 £3,995
No. of funeral directors to choose from 1,300 2,000+ 1,000+
Cremation costs covered? Yes Up to £1,100 Yes
Burial costs covered? (1) Up to £1,220 Up to £1,100 Yes, but not plot
Is a mourners' limo included? Yes, to service & cremation/ burial Yes, to cremation/ burial only Yes, to cremation/ burial only
Minister's/celebrant's fee included? Yes for cremation, possibly for burial (2) Possibly (3)  Yes
Are doctors' fees paid for? No
Possibly (3) Yes

(1) Plots can cost £1,000s. (2) Can come out of £1,220 burial allowance. (3) Can come out of £1,100 cremation/burial allowance.

Quick questions

  • Where there's an allowance, will it cover rising prices?

    Not necessarily. Protection against inflation is one of the key selling points of funeral plans and yet where there are allowances for the services provided by other people (not the undertaker), these are not guaranteed to cover future price rises.

    Age Co's £1,220 allowance for third-party costs will go up with the Retail Prices Index rate of inflation, but funerals have seen price hikes in excess of this, driven by crematoria and local authority charges. Although these may be dampened down as the whole funeral industry comes under scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority.

    Golden Charter says its allowance of £1,100 (£800 for its basic 'value' package) will grow, but it doesn't guarantee that this will be sufficient in future.

  • Can I put two names on one funeral plan?

    Yes, but not in every case and obviously the plan will end up only being used for one person. Usually, it won't cost you extra to put two names down. By provider:

    • With Age Co, you can put two names down, but only use the plan once.
    • With Golden Charter, the plan is transferable if you've paid for it in one go or with a deposit and then monthly instalments. It's not transferable if you're paying fixed monthly payments to a life assurance company.
    • The Co-op no longer offers joint plans.
  • If I move home, will I be charged more to keep my plan?

    Not with Age Co or the Co-op, but you may face extra costs with Golden Charter.

    Age Co and the Co-op use directors who will collect the deceased from up to 50 miles away, but Golden Charter – whose plans are carried out by significantly more undertakers than either of the other two – only expects its directors to operate up to 25 miles away before extra charges may be incurred.

    If you move far afield, look at what choice of undertakers you'd have for each plan in the new location.

    If you move abroad, and die outside of the UK, your next of kin will need to pay to have you repatriated to the UK. Your prepaid funeral can then go ahead as planned in the UK. 

What are the alternatives to a prepaid funeral plan?

If you don't have a prepaid funeral plan in place when you die, there are a few ways that your funeral could be paid for. These are the main ones:

  • Your estate pays. In the first instance, your family should check if there’s enough money left in the estate to pay for your funeral. 

  • Your family pays. If they have the means, your family might be able to pay for your funeral.

  • A public service funeral. If you have no family, or they can't afford to pay for your burial, your local council can arrange a public service funeral – but this is a no-frills option and you won’t have any choice in how, when or where the funeral is carried out. 

  • Direct cremation/burial. This is a cheaper alternative to a traditional funeral, but no mourners are allowed to be present.

  • Help from the state. If you or your partner get certain benefits, you might be eligible for a funeral expenses payment to help pay for some funeral costs, including cremation/burial fees, a doctor's certificate, death certificate and transport costs for the body and for mourners. You might also get up to £1,000 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director's fees, flowers or the coffin. How much you get depends on your circumstances.

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Prepaid funeral plans Q&A 

  • Will I still have a funeral if I can't afford a prepaid plan and don't have enough cash in my estate?

    Yes, but it might not be the funeral you want. When you die, the executors of your estate will have access to your money to arrange your funeral. If there's no cash available in your estate, it's possible for a relative to claim back funeral costs from your estate once your property (or other belongings) has been sold.

    If there's not enough money in your estate and the person organising your funeral is on a low income, they may (in some circumstances) qualify for a funeral payment from the Government.

    How much they'll get will vary depending on their circumstances, but the payments will usually cover the burial/cremation fee, cost of documents prepared, transport to the funeral, and up to £1,000 for other funeral director costs, such as the coffin and hearse. The funeral payment will need to be repaid, and it's usually taken from your estate before any debts or bills are repaid.

    Alternatively, if there's no money in your estate or nobody to arrange a funeral for you, your council can arrange a 'public health funeral'. This will be a very basic funeral on a set day – how the service runs varies between councils.

  • I just want a cheap funeral and no plan, what are my options?

    If you just want a simple funeral, you don't have to use a funeral director at all, so you could save a significant amount if you're willing to organise the separate elements of a funeral yourself.

    This involves registering the death, handling the paperwork and doctors' certificates and cremation application. However, if the death has been handled by a coroner, no doctors' certificates are required.

    However, it may also mean looking after the body and with waits of two weeks or more before cremation being fairly standard, issues of storage and care will have to be addressed. If this is not for you, a funeral director could provide refrigeration or embalming and prepare a body for viewing.

    Depending on location, time slots and how much is done by others, it's possible to have a funeral for under £1,000 with a cheap cremation. A so-called 'direct cremation' means there will be no mourners, no service and no ceremony. Importantly, you may not get to view the body beforehand.

    A less basic, but still simple, cremation funeral involving having the deceased collected, an ordinary coffin, cremation and the ashes being handed over is about £1,700, with an average of £1,000 more for burials.

    The table below gives average prices for the main elements in cremation and burial funerals. Some costs may be covered already, such as holding the body in a hospital mortuary.

    Average prices for the main elements of a funeral

    Collecting body No cost if you collect the body yourself from the hospital mortuary. For a funeral director, it can cost £150-£300 depending on the time of day or up to about £500 if collecting from a care home, own house or out of hours.
    Cremation £360-£1,070 depending on whether the crematorium is privately or council owned, and on time slot. £600 on average.
    Doctors' certificates £164 (two needed for cremations, but none required for burials)
    Minister or celebrant (not compulsory) £225
    Coffin suitable for cremation £200
    Cardboard coffin for burial £200
    Burial plot £300-£10,000+ depending on location and if council tax was paid; natural burial sites about £600
    Gravediggers £200-£450
  • Can I plan every detail of the funeral with a prepaid plan?

    Some extra details can be specified when you buy the plan. Depending on what they are – such as a specific musical performance – it may cost more. They won't necessarily be paid for within the plan, but your wishes should be noted for when the time comes. You'll need to let those left behind know if there will be extra to pay.

  • Should I use a comparison website?

    Comparison websites for prepaid funeral plans can help you to scan across the market, but the focus is on price and service details rather than the individual undertaker.

    The prices can appear competitive, but you'll need to be sure of what you're getting and confident that it can be supplied at the price, especially after sales commission is taken into account.

    Check their prices are up to date and be aware that despite appearances, they might not represent all the market or funeral directors local to you. 

    If you decide to do your own research, beware of dodgy companies mis-selling plans. There have been reports of widespread mis-selling in this industry, with vulnerable people being cold called and pressured into buying plans not right for them, and unscrupulous sales companies taking a hefty commission – in some cases up to £1,000.

    There have been nasty shocks for grieving families who find out that there is not enough left in the plan for the funeral itself or that the exclusions weren't clearly communicated. Don't fall for companies trying to lure you in with promised discounts making you rush into a decision.

    For now, whatever route you take to getting a plan, ensure the provider is signed up to the Funeral Planning Authority.

  • What if I want to change my mind about the arrangements?

    You're able to alter some funeral plans at any time without any administration costs. But if you want additional features added, there may be a cost for the service itself which you'll need to pay. Check the T&Cs with your plan provider before buying a plan, as many of the cheapest options don't allow amendments once bought.

    Also, if you're adding extra services, it's worth checking if the amount you have paid will increase in line with inflation. If it doesn't, there's a risk your family will have to pay extra later on.

  • Can a will override what's written in a funeral plan?

    If something is written in the deceased's will that is different from the funeral plan – even if the will was written after the plan – what has been covered and paid for in the funeral plan will go ahead unless the executors decide they want to go with the wishes in the will. Then it will be down to them to make the necessary changes and pay for any costs this may incur.

  • How do I complain about a funeral plan provider?

    First complain to the provider itself; it should be able to resolve your issue. If you aren't happy with the resolution, you can take the complaint to the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) if the provider is registered with it. If the complaint is about something that happens once the plan is put into action, a relative can complain, although it would normally be restricted to an executor or the relative named on the plan.

    If you bought a plan with a provider that isn't registered with the FPA, then you can take your complaint further to Trading Standards or Citizens Advice.

    If your complaint is about the funeral director, not the plan provider, you can contact one of the two funeral director trade bodies: National Association of Funeral Directors or The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.

  • What happens if I miss a monthly payment?

    It depends on the provider and what payment plan you've chosen. If you're paying by monthly instalments for between one and 30 years, generally you'll be given 30-60 days to make the missed payment. If you miss that, your plan will be cancelled and you'll get all your money back, minus the cancellation charge.

    If you're paying by ongoing fixed monthly payments (which we warn against doing), your plan could be cancelled and you'll receive nothing back.

  • Is an over-50s' life insurance plan the same as a prepaid funeral plan?

    No, they're not the same. We're not fans of over-50s' life insurance plans, where most people end up paying far more in than they get out. There has also been much consumer confusion following misleading promotion of them over how much they could deliver, especially regarding funeral costs.

    Funeral plans are different. That's because you can pay in one go upfront, or a set amount each month for a set period of time (typically for up to five years or less) – so there doesn't have to be ongoing payments for life. Also, once bought, certain basic services you want in your funeral are guaranteed to be provided. The rest, depending on the contract, may be partially paid.

  • What happens if I don't tell anyone I have a funeral plan?

    When you die, whoever is looking after your estate will need to notify the funeral plan provider or your nominated funeral director, who will arrange and pay for the funeral, so it's important you tell people you have a plan.

    If you don't document it, but your family think you had a plan and just don't know where you bought it from and what the details are, the Funeral Planning Authority has a trace a funeral plan facility on its website.

    The funeral plan provider will keep a copy of everything you have requested as part of your plan, so as long as your family know who the funeral plan provider is, they don't have to track down any specific documents. But it's always a good idea to have your own copy and ensure everyone knows where it is when the time comes.

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