William Shakespeare coined some of the most evocative words about human mortality in his 60th Sonnet: “Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end”?
The line finds its way into many funerals in the UK and may be one of the most widely-chosen ways to express the inevitability of our passing away. But the words are likely to be just a brief moment in all the arrangements you might like to be made to commemorate your own life and times.
To ensure that the details may be followed as faithfully as possible, it is sensible to make your funeral plan well in advance.
When thinking along such lines, it might be tempting to ask yourself about the best funeral plans and just what might go into them.
The answer may be closer to hand than you imagined since the best funeral plan is the one that suits you and everything you want for that special occasion. There is no good, no bad, no worst, or indeed best – the plan you make is the one that suits your own personal and individual tastes and preferences.
Comparing funeral plans
When deciding the most suitable prepaid funeral plan for you, there are several things to consider:
- what does the cost include? Typically, providers have different levels of cover, so you can choose the one that most suit your budget;
- how can you make payments – by monthly direct debit over several years or a lump sum payment?
- are all third-party costs covered or is an allowance given? Also known as disbursements, these costs include cremation or burial fees, and doctor’s and minister’s charges. These costs are rising and currently average £1,004 across the UK for a cremation funeral but can vary by region. Plans you can purchase now either guarantee to pay some of these costs or provide an allowance for them.
Help in carrying them out
Funeral directors, of course, have traditionally played a central role in ensuring that your funeral plan is carried out to the letter.
There is almost certainly a firm of funeral directors near where you live and many are registered members of recognized professional associations – such as the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) or the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD).
Your local funeral director is likely to provide a wealth of information and advice on the arrangements you want to be made and may be relied upon to see that these are carried out when the time comes.
Your local funeral director may go one step further and suggest that you pay in advance for his services and, so, help to avoid the inevitable rise in the cost of staging a funeral in the future.
Attractive as this prospect may be, however, you may be right to worry about the continued financial standing of the funeral director’s business and the fate of any money you pay over if the firm goes out of business.
The best of both worlds
A prepaid funeral plan from a national provider, however, may help you realize the best of both worlds. You may make all the arrangements for your final wishes to be carried out with the help of your chosen local funeral director but pay in advance for those services to the national provider.
The reason for using a national provider is that the money you pay over is safely protected by it being placed into a trust fund (administered – hopefully securely – by entirely independent trustees) or used for the purchase of a whole of-life insurance policy which guarantees an agreed settlement upon your death. In either case, the trust fund or the life insurance policy is strictly regulated – for your protection – by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
If your local funeral director happens to go out of business in the years leading up to your death, therefore, the national provider of your prepaid funeral plan simply asks you to nominate an alternative firm of funeral directors.