Prepaid funeral plans

What are prepaid funeral plans and should you buy one?

A prepaid funeral plan lets you pay for your own funeral in advance, potentially saving your family stress and expense when you die. But while things like a coffin and burial or cremation fees are usually covered, prepaid plans often DON'T cover all funeral costs, so always check what's included. This guide helps you decide if you should get one.

With thanks to Simon Cox of Funeral Solution Expert for his contribution to this guide.

What is a prepaid funeral plan?

A prepaid funeral plan allows you to pay for the essential elements of a funeral in advance, either for yourself or someone else. Plans typically cover many (though not all) of the costs associated with a funeral, such as a coffin, funeral director, and collection and delivery of your body.

So, if a prepaid plan is in place when you die, those close to you will have less to organise and less to pay towards your funeral. 

Plans can usually be taken out by anyone aged over 18, though some providers say you need to be at least 50. If you want to pay for a plan with monthly instalments, there may also be an upper age limit (often around 80), after which you’d need to pay upfront.

The types of prepaid funeral plans you can get generally fall into three categories: 

  1. Burial funerals. A funeral service with mourners where you are buried.
  2. Cremation funerals. A funeral service with mourners where you are cremated.
  3. Direct cremation funerals. A funeral service with no mourners where you are cremated.

With the average cost of a basic funeral (with mourners) now £4,141 – a 5% rise on the previous year – according to SunLife, more people are turning to prepaid funeral plans to protect loved ones from this financial burden when they pass. In fact, over the course of 2023 approximately 170,000 new prepaid funeral plans were taken out, the National Association of Funeral Plan Providers reports.

But don't rush into buying one before reading this guide, as they aren't suitable for everyone.

Prepaid funeral plans: the six need-to-knows

Funeral plans can ease the financial and emotional burden on your family at a distressing time, but they won't be for everyone. Here's what you need to know...

  1. You pay today's price for a funeral plan, even if funerals are more expensive when you die

    If funeral costs rise in future, your funeral plan is protected against inflation.

    For example, say you buy a funeral plan costing £4,000 today, but don't die for another 15 years. If in that time the cost of everything goes up (which is likely) and now the same funeral costs £6,000, your loved ones won't be asked to pay the £2,000 difference.

    However, some costs that are considered to be from a third party (such as cremation fees) may have risen, meaning your loved ones might have to make up any difference. Plus, they might have to pay extra depending on what guarantees were or weren't in the funeral plan contract, so you need to check carefully what's included before taking out a plan. 

    • Is it better just to put aside money for my funeral in a savings account?

      An alternative to paying for your funeral in advance is setting aside cash for it in a savings account and letting your family know what you want it to be used for.

      But they'd have to make all the arrangements themselves and could still find there's not enough money to cover the full cost. Plus, your family may not be able to access the money in time to pay the funeral bills as they may have to wait for the legal process to be sorted, such as the grant of probate.

      An advantage 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. Read our inheritance tax guide for more info.

      Having savings could also affect your assessment for care homes and/or benefits, such as universal creditpension credit or housing support.

      Another bonus of buying a plan is your council might not count it if you're assessed for help towards care costs. Councils look at your savings, income and assets to work out how much you need to pay towards your residential care. Check what savings limits your council sets, as there are different thresholds within the UK.

  2. It's cheapest if you pay for your plan upfront or over 12 months (if interest-free)

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

    1. Pay a lump sum. If you can afford to do this, it's probably your best bet. That's because you're only paying for what the plan actually costs; the provider would pay for your funeral if you died tomorrow; and your money is protected.

    2. Pay over 12 months. This is the next-best option if you don't have all the money up front, but can afford to clear the full amount within 12 months. There's usually not a charge to do this, so in effect you can pay off your plan interest-free for a year. Many plan providers ask for a small deposit (usually less than £100) when setting up a monthly instalment plan but this will be deducted from the total you owe – it's not an extra charge.

      The only difference to paying in full upfront is that if you die within the 12 months and haven't finished paying for the plan, the provider will refund your loved ones what you've paid, rather than provide the funeral. So this means your family will have to organise the funeral – plus they might be out of pocket if costs have risen since you took out the plan.

    3. Be careful. Spread the cost over up to 25 years. If you don't have the money upfront and can't afford to spread the cost over a year, you can choose to spread your payments over a longer period of up to 25 years (depending on the provider). You can usually only do this up to the age of around 80 – so if you're 75, the maximum length you'd likely be able to spread the cost over is five years.

      But paying a plan off over multiple years isn't a good option for many as you're usually charged interest or fees, so you'll likely end up paying more than the funeral's worth. The only exception is if you die just over two years after taking out your plan (or one in some cases), in which case the provider must still pay for your funeral, even if you haven't paid off the plan.

    4. Avoid. 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's sooner.

      Generally, your fixed monthly payments would be lower than paying by the 'up to 25-year' option above, but because you could potentially be paying over a much longer period, overall you'll likely pay much more than the funeral's worth – unless you die earlier than expected.
  3. A prepaid funeral plan WON'T cover the costs of a burial plot, headstone and more – which can amount to £1,000s extra for your loved ones

    Many providers will let you choose between a cremation or burial funeral plan – and a number also offer direct (unattended) cremations.

    But watch out for any costs that may not be included. For example, the biggest cost unlikely to be covered by a prepaid burial funeral plan is a burial plot and headstone, which can easily set back your loved ones £1,000s extra (sometimes even £10,000+) when you pass away.

    Burial funerals typically cost a lot more than cremation services, so the level of burial fees a plan will pay is often capped. So If you do choose to buy a funeral plan and want to be buried, your family will likely need to put a significant amount of extra money towards a burial when you die. 

    Cremation and direct cremation fees can be capped too, depending on the provider or plan type.

    So before you buy a plan, it's VITAL to understand what is and isn't included and make sure you budget for any extras. And unless you're really on a budget, if you want a funeral that allows mourners then it's best to avoid the very basic plans, as these are usually much more restrictive about the days that your funeral can be held.

    What is / isn't included in a prepaid funeral plan

    Usually included:
    • Transport of the body to the funeral director's location
    • Care of the body
    • Visiting the body in the chapel of rest
    • A coffin, hearse and funeral director personnel
    • An allowance towards burial/cremation costs
    Sometimes included depending on the plan:
    • A guarantee that crematorium fees will be covered (not capped)
    • Doctor's fees (totalling £82 and needed for cremations outside of Scotland)
    • Minister's or celebrant's fees
    • Limousines for mourners
    Not usually included:
    • Burial plot (£500 to £3,500)
    • Any extra cremation fees (up to £1,000)
    • Headstone/memorial (£1,000 to £3,000)
    • Funeral notices
    • Order sheets
    • Embalming (£150+)
    • Flowers, catering and other costs for a wake (£250+)
  4. Prepaid funeral plans are protected, so your money's safe

    Since July 2022, the FCA has been regulating firms that provide and arrange prepaid funeral plans. This means:

    1. Your money's safe with an authorised provider. As you'll either get a funeral or you'll get a refund – even if the provider goes bust. That's because funerals paid for in instalments must go ahead even if you die before paying the final instalment. The only exception is if you die within 24 months of purchasing the plan, in which case the provider won't be required to pay for your funeral but must give a full refund.

      There are some funeral plan providers, including Co-op and Dignity, which will pay out for a funeral if you die within two years of taking out your plan, as long as you've paid at least the first 12 months of instalments and your payments are up to date.

    2. You're protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) should your plan provider fail. The FSCS can either ensure your funeral contract is carried out as planned, or pay cash compensation.

    3. If you have a complaint against a funeral plan provider or intermediary, you can refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Escalating a dispute to the ombudsman is free for you to do.
    • Other ways you're protected by FCA regulations

      • All providers need to be FCA-authorised or they'll be shut down. The FCA will carry out checks on authorised firms to ensure they are sticking to the rules.

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

      • You'll get a partial refund if you choose to downgrade your plan.

      • Cold-calling is banned and advertising standards are in place to ensure plans are sold fairly.

      • Third parties, such as funeral directors, aren't allowed to receive commission for selling a funeral plan.

      • All funeral directors have to display a standardised price list.
  5. If you move home, contact your plan provider to see if you can change to a closer funeral director

    When you buy a funeral plan, you'll need to tell the provider which funeral director you want to take care of the arrangements. If you later move from the area registered to your plan, you'll need to see if you can change funeral directors. Many plan providers will allow this, but some may charge a fee. 

    Changing funeral director will also depend on whether your plan provider works with directors in the area you're moving to. The areas covered vary by provider, so it's worth checking this in any plan you're considering.

    Plans typically specify how far a funeral director will go to collect a body. The mileage limit can vary, but what counts is whether there's 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 Co-op directors will go up to 50 miles. Some, such as With Grace, have no limit on the number of miles they'll travel.

    Quick question:

    • Is the price of a plan affected by where I live?

      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 by buying a plan from a national company.

      Similarly, if a funeral's in a less expensive area, you could lose out with a funeral plan because burial and cremation costs behave in a similar way to property: they're all about location, location, location. So, if your funeral's going to take place in a less expensive area, you may find it cheaper to go with a local provider, rather than a company with a national pricing strategy.

  6. You can save on burial plot costs if you share a family plot or opt for a woodland burial

    Burial costs can vary dramatically. 

    Buying a burial plot can cost just a few hundred pounds in remote rural locations. But in cities it can be £1,000s, and over £10,000 in some parts of London. This variation puts burial costs outside plans – although some will permit any spare allowance to go towards the cost of a plot.

    Despite hikes in crematorium fees, cremations where you choose not to bury the ashes usually work out cheaper than burials because you don't have the same associated costs of buying a plot and paying towards site maintenance. And it's worth noting, you don't actually own a burial plot, it's more of a lease, usually up to 100 years. Then it'll need to be renewed – for a fee. 

    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 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.

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Is it worth paying for a funeral plan?

Below we've highlighted when it might – and might not – make sense to buy a prepaid plan.

Of course, the big unknown is when you'll end up needing to use it. But that isn't a reason not to buy one. If you've paid off a plan in full, you know it's there when you need it. While if you die before you've paid off your plan, you'll ether get all your money back, or you'll get the funeral you were paying towards, depending on how soon you die after taking the plan out.

Prepaid funeral plans: when are they worth it?

A prepaid funeral plan is likely to be worth it if...

You have the cash to pay for one upfront, or you can afford to pay for one over 12 monthly instalments (as long as they're interest-free, as is often the case).

You think your family would struggle to cope with organising and/or funding your funeral when you die.
You're unlikely to have enough money left in your estate to pay for your funeral when you die.
Funeral prices rise after you buy the plan (as is likely over the longer-term).
You want to be cremated and live in an expensive area, as many plans guarantee cremation costs.
It's a GREY AREA if..
You take out a plan and then move house within the UK. Many (but not all) providers let you choose an alternative funeral director closer to your new address, but there may be fees involved.
You're assessed for help towards care costs. If your council thinks you’ve bought a funeral plan to reduce your savings and avoid paying care fees, they may still assess you as if you still had the money.
A prepaid funeral plan is unlikely to be worth it if...
Paying for it puts you in debt.
The number of years you're paying the plan off over means you end up spending more than the funeral is worth.
You plan to move abroad.
You agree to pay it off over monthly instalments and then miss one or more payments.
You buy a restrictive plan that doesn't give you the funeral you want.
Funeral prices fall after you take the plan out (though this is fairly unlikely in the long term).

How the cost of funeral plans compares to paying direct

It's possible to find a funeral that costs less than a similar plan – in particular, direct cremations can cost considerably less at the point of need than they do as part of a plan. So if you think your family will be cool-headed enough to shop around and not succumb to upselling after a loved one has passed away, you may not need to buy a plan.

Remember that the cost of funeral plans can vary considerably depending on where you live, and you'll likely pay more if you opt for a burial over a cremation. In 2023, burial funerals averaged at £5,077 compared to £3,795 for cremation funerals, according to SunLife.

Have a look at funeral prices in your local area and compare that to a few different prepaid plans to get an idea of whether they offer good value for money. But don't underestimate how much it'll be worth to your family to know plans are already in place when you die.

How to buy a funeral plan

Before you start thinking about which provider to go with, you need to think about what sort of funeral you want and the level of plan you want to take out.

The two key things to consider first are whether you want mourners at your funeral (if not, you might be limited to a direct cremation plan) and whether you want to be buried or cremated, both of which can have a significant impact on cost.

If you live in an expensive area (or just aren't sure how much a burial or cremation might cost where you live), look for a plan that guarantees the full cost of your burial or cremation will be covered. If you opt for a plan that has a maximum spend limit, your family may end up having to foot the bill if the full cost of your burial or cremation isn't covered.

You then need to decide what else is important to you – how long you pay the plan off over, whether you want a specific funeral director or a particular style of coffin, if mourners' limos are important to you, for example. These will all play a part in narrowing down your options.

Here are some key differences between common plan levels:

  • A direct cremation plan usually costs less than £2,000. But there'll be NO mourners at your funeral if you opt for one of these, plus prepaid plans tend to work out more expensive than paying for a direct cremation at the time of need. Plans typically include collection of the deceased, cremation fees, and a simple coffin.
  • A basic plan can cost anywhere between £2,000 and £3,500 and usually covers transporting and caring for the body, plus disbursements towards officiate fees and the cremation or burial costs. But cheaper plans often mean you're restricted on the time and day of the funeral service and you won't get a mourners' limousine. The coffin is likely to be very basic.

  • A standard plan usually costs between £3,000 and £4,000 and gets you a choice of times and day of the week for the funeral, and a generally a better quality coffin, such as a wood effect coffin. You might get one mourners' limousine with some standard plans.

  • A higher-level plan is likely to cost more than £4,000 and will include everything from the basic and standard packages, and usually includes at least one (if not two) limousines for mourners to travel in. You can also expect to have a higher-quality coffin, often wood veneer or sometimes even solid wood.

Which plan provider and package should you choose?

Once you've thought about how much you want to spend and what sort of funeral you'd like, you can start comparing plans. But with so many providers and packages available to choose from, knowing where to start can be a challenge. 

So, we've reviewed the FCA-authorised providers and highlighted two you may want to consider if you're after a burial funeral, three to bear in mind if you want a cremation, and one to think about if you're contemplating a direct cremation.

However, do bear in mind:

  • We've focused on nationwide providers that work with a large number of funeral directors. 
  • All providers featured guarantee that the full cost of your burial/cremation will be covered.
  • The best plan/provider for you will depend on your location, budget and preferences, so always read the documentation to understand exactly what is and isn't included.
  • This is meant as an overview of the plans on offer. As the services will be provided by different funeral directors, we haven't been able to take customer service into account here.

Top funeral plan providers for burial funerals

Provider & fee information Key info

Dignity
 

Price range: £3,500+

 

- Interest charged on monthly payments: Zero

- Payout promise (1): Yes

- Cancellation fee: £0

- Joint policy: Yes

- Fee for moving home: No
- Collection of body: 24 hours/ 7 days a week, within 50 miles

 

Unlike with most providers, all of Dignity’s prepaid funerals guarantee to cover your burial costs in full (excluding the burial plot itself). Its burial funerals (which include a service) start at circa £3,500, and you can use any of its 776 funeral directors nationwide.

 

Dignity is also different in that it doesn't offer set plans. Instead you 'build your own' by selecting the elements you want, and you can see in real time how this impacts the price. You can also change your plan at anytime, without being charged admin fees. 

 

All of Dignity's plans can be paid for over up to five years at no extra cost – it's the only company to offer this. And it's also the only one we're aware of to not charge any cancellation fees after the 30-day cooling-off period.

Co-op Funeralcare

 

Price range: £2,975 - £4,210

 

- Interest charged on monthly payments: Free for 12 months, then instalment charges apply.

- Payout promise (2): Yes

- Cancellation fee: Free for 30 days, then £125

- Joint policy: No

- Fee for moving home: No
- Collection of body: 24 hours/ 7 days a week, within 50 miles

Co-op Funeralcare is the only other burial provider we've seen to sell plans guaranteeing to cover burial fees in full (excluding the burial plot itself). This is included in its two top-level plans (Silver: £3,900; Gold: £4,210) which, while not cheap, may be worth it if you live in an expensive area, and also want other elements included in these plans, such as a higher quality coffin and mourner's limo(s).

 

Co-op's cheaper plans (Simple: £2,975; Bronze: £3,485) only include an allowance towards third-party burial fees, and you're restricted on day and time for the service (normally Tues-Thurs before 10.30am or after 3pm).

 

All Co-op's plans can be carried out at any of its 800+ funeral homes across the UK. There's also a discount of £125 (or £75 if you opt for its Simple Plan) for its members and it only costs £1 to join.

 

Co-op's plans can be paid off over up to 25 years, but spreading payments over more than 12 months incurs instalment fees, which can increase the total cost of a plan by £100s or £1,000+.

(1) After 13 months of up-to-date payments if paying in instalments. (2) After 12 months of up-to-date payments if paying in instalments. 

Top funeral plan providers for cremation funerals (with service)

Provider & fee information Key info

Dignity
 

Price range: £3,500+

- Interest charged on monthly payments: Zero

- Payout promise (1): Yes

- Cancellation fee: £0

- Joint policy: Yes

- Fee for moving home: No
- Collection of body: 24 hours/ 7 days a week, within 50 miles

 

Dignity allows you to build your own bespoke prepaid funeral plan. In all cases, cremation costs are guaranteed, so your relatives won't have to pay extra for the actual cremation. A hearse is also included as standard.

 

After that, you can choose the type of coffin (choice of two included, or up to circa £750 extra for more premium coffins), whether you want a celebrant (£220 extra), as well as adding contributions for extras, such as flowers and stationery. You have a choice of 46 crematoria across the UK, so check there's one near(ish) where you live.

 

Dignity doesn't charge any fees for making changes to your plan, and you can pay monthly for up to five years at no extra cost, so it won't cost you anymore than if you'd paid upfront.

With Grace

 

Price range: £1,999 - £3,475

- Interest charged on monthly payments: 0% for 24 months, then 6.5%.

- Payout promise (2): Yes

- Cancellation fee: free for 30 days, then £250

- Joint policy: Yes (age dependent)

- Fee for moving home: Fees may apply
- Collection of body: 24 hours / 7 days a week, no mileage only (select plans only)

Cremation costs are guaranteed with all With Grace's plans. They also all include doctors fees, allow two names on the policy (the plan is used for whoever dies first) and come with a discounted will service (£49).

 

At the lower end of it range, its rose plan (£1,999) allows for a small attended cremation between 9 and 10am. At the upper end, its Violet Plan (£3,475) is a good value premium cremation plan, which includes the choice of any UK crematorium and your preference for service time and date (Mon-Fri).

 

With Grace allows plans to be paid for over a maximum period of five years. Spreading payment of a plan over 24 months comes at no extra cost, but any longer and you'll start being charged interest at 6.5% – which can increase the total cost of a plan by £100s.

Distinct Cremations

 

Price range: £2,145+
 

- Interest charged on
monthly payments:
 Free for 12 months, then instalment charges apply.

- Payout promise: Yes (3)

- Cancellation fee: free for 30 days, then £95 (4)

- Joint policy: No

- Fee for moving home: No
- Collection of body: 24/7, mainland Great Britain

 

Distinct Cremations is a cremation plan provider that delivers the actual cremation itself. Its attended private cremation plan costs £2,145 and guarantees all cremation fees, including doctor's fees. Included is a 20-minute, family-led ceremony for up to 20 people. 

 

Add-ons (which cost extra) include video-streaming the cremation service, musical tributes and witnessed scattering of the ashes. For an extra £100, you can even offset the cremation's carbon footprint with an eco-friendly coffin and a tree planted in remembrance. 

 

Distinct Cremations allows its plan to be paid for over up to 10 years. But while spreading payment over 12 months is free, any longer than this and you'll face expensive instalment charges – something which can increase the total cost of a plan by £100s.

Direct cremation plan providers (unattended, no service)

Farewill

 

Price range: £1,495*


(*Discounted price – you must quote FW100 at the checkout to get this discount.)

 

- Interest charged on monthly payments: £100 fee if plan paid over 24 months.

- Payout promise: Yes
- Cancellation fee: Free for 30 days, then £300. If paying in instalments, free within 24 months, then £300.

- Joint policy: No

- Fee for moving home: No
- Collection of body: 24/7, mainland Eng & Wal. (5) 

Farewill keeps it simple by offering just one type of direct cremation plan – available to those in England and Wales.

 

The plan covers all essential cremation fees, and guarantees collection of the body from anywhere in mainland England or Wales, a coffin and delivery of the ashes to any address in mainland UK.

 

Normally costing £1,595, Farewill is offering a £100 discount to those who quote FW100 at the checkout when buying a plan (making the price to £1,495).

 

You can either pay up front or spread the cost of the plan over 24 months (though the latter incurs an extra fee of £100, so with the discount the total price would be £1,595) – be mindful of the potential £300 cancellation charge, which is high compared to other providers.

 

Do note you won't be able to choose the crematorium, though the plan does make a contribution towards doctor's fees and the cost of removing any medical devices.

 

The plan needs to be redeemed within 12 months of the deceased's death otherwise it isn't guaranteed to pay out and it's unlikely you'll get a refund.

(1) After 13 months of up-to-date payments if paying in instalments. (2) After 24 months of up-to-date payments if paying in instalments. (3) After 12 months of having a 5/10-year plan (4). No refund if you've got a 5/10-year payment plan and more than 12 months have passed since taking out the plan. (5) Collection fees will apply (circa £300) if you move to Scotland or Northern Ireland after taking out this funeral plan.

Where can I go for further help?

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

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.

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 and there's no funeral service of any kind.

  • 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.

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, 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 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.

  • 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 – such as Legacy of Lives – can help you to scan across the market, but bear in mind that the focus might be on price and location, rather than the quality of the service offered by the individual undertaker.

    Also be mindful that while prices on comparison websites can appear competitive, you'll still need to be sure of what you're getting and confident it can be supplied at the price quoted. Check a provider's prices are up to date and be aware that despite appearances, they might not represent all the market or funeral directors local to you. 

  • 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. But the FCA regulations means you do have the option to downgrade your plan and receive a partial refund.

    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 Financial Ombudsman. 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 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. The best place to do this is in your will.

    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, your only option right now is to contact all the authorised funeral plan providers, using the FCA register.

    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.

  • Are burials or cremations more popular?

    These days the majority of people opt to be cremated when they die. In 2023, nearly three-quarters of people surveyed by SunLife said they had (or would) opt for cremation.

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