impact on life - healthcare publishing

Advice on Planning Your Funeral

No one wants to think about how and when they will die, or what it will be like for our families without us. Although planning your funeral in advance may not be something you want to think about, there are many practical and emotional reasons why it should be a priority.

Funerals are expensive occasions and require a lot of decisions to ensure they run smoothly. Planning your funeral long in advance of it happening can give your friends and family peace of mind at a heartbreaking time.

Why take out a prepaid funeral plan?

Taking out a 'pre-paid' or 'pre-payment' funeral plan enables you to let your friends and family know what you want for your funeral. It also means that the costs are covered in advance, thereby saving your family from potential financial difficulty at an already stressful time.

As the costs of funerals are always rising, taking out a pre-paid funeral plan means that you pay at today's prices, although it's essential that you read the small print and understand the package you sign up to as some pre-paid funeral plans may not pay all the costs of your funeral.

Recent figures suggest, the average cost of a UK funeral in 2013 is £3,277; this price will have risen by almost a thousand pounds by 2017 when the predicted cost will be £4,186.

It's generally easier to shop around for funeral prices, and compare products and services, when death seems a distant possibility rather than a stark reality. Bereaved family may not be thinking clearly in the days immediately after your passing.

If you do take out a pre-paid funeral plan, it is important to tell your relatives, friends or Executors to ensure that they don't pay for your funeral through a different provider, not knowing this has already been taken care of. You should keep all your important paperwork together and let someone know where they can find it.

Choosing a funeral plan

There are lots of different pre-payment funeral plans - the key to finding the right one is to shop around and be clear about your needs and budget. Many providers offer a choice of plans with different levels of service. There will be a lot of information to take in, so ask for written details; this will help you make a side by side comparison.

It's a difficult conversation to have but we would recommend talking about your intention to take out a funeral plan with your family. You can let them know your wishes but also, there may be things they want you to consider when choosing the best plan.

If you're stumped as to which plan is right for you, you may want to seek the advice of an independent financial adviser. Prepaid funeral plans are regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority, so check that the plan you're considering is registered with them to ensure that it abides by their Code of Practice.

When choosing a funeral plan, you should consider the following points:

  • Do you want to pay by instalments?
  • How long will you need to pay? Will you have to pay interest on the unpaid balance?
  • If you die before the instalments have been paid, will your family need to pay a lump sum or can they continue to pay in instalments?
  • What is included in the plan?
  • Does it include disbursements, i.e. fees payable to the minister, church or crematorium? (Some plans include them, others exclude disbursements outside of the control of the funeral director).
  • Does the plan let you choose your coffin, flowers, transport to the venue, pallbearers, and a notice in the local paper?
  • Is the money placed in Trust to be used for the funeral or will it be paid into your estate (in which case it may be included as an asset when calculating Inheritance Tax liability)?
  • What happens if your funeral plan provider goes out of business?
  • What safeguards are in place to protect your money?
  • Is the company a member of a professional body?
  • Is there a clear complaints procedure?
  • Can you choose a funeral director or is this specified by the plan provider?
  • If you buy your plan from a local company, what would happen if you move?
  • What would happen if you die away from the area or while on holiday abroad?
  • Can you amend or upgrade the plan at a later date?
  • Is there a cooling off period or any charges for cancelling the plan?
  • If your family forgot or didn't know you had paid into the plan and arranged your funeral elsewhere, would the money paid into the plan be refunded?
  • Are you able to give a record of your funeral wishes?

Other ways to pay for your funeral

If you decide against a pre-paid funeral plan, you may want to consider other ways of funding your funeral to take the stress away from your loved one. Some people opt to take out a life insurance plan or invest their money in a high interest savings account. You should be aware that you have no guarantee that interest levels will keep pace with rising funeral costs.

The other thing to remember with life insurance and savings is that your family may not be able to access them before your funeral, so they may need to raise the funds themselves in the short-term.

If your loved ones take a funeral director's invoice to the bank, they may choose to release the funds to pay for your funeral even if all other transactions from the account have been frozen. This varies across banks.

Your funeral wishes

Stating your funeral wishes now can save your loved ones worry and distress in the future. You can find a handy 'Advance funeral wishes' form on the website. This asks you to consider how you would like your funeral to be.

Using this form, you can state your wishes for things like:

  • Who you would like to arrange your funeral
  • Organ donation
  • Where details of your pre-paid funeral plan are kept
  • Whether you want to be buried or cremated
  • What type of coffin you would like
  • Where you would like to be buried or cremated
  • Whether you have reserved a burial place
  • Who you would like to bear your coffin
  • Whether you would like a grave marker
  • What sort of urn or container you would like for your ashes
  • Where you would like your funeral service to take place
  • What type of service you would like (religious or non-religious)
  • Who you would like to attend
  • Who should lead or speak at your service
  • What music you would like played at your service
  • What readings you would like
  • Who you would like to talk about your life
  • Any special dress code or requests for the reception (e.g. your favourite food or drink)
  • Whether you want a memorial service


When you die it will be too late for you to make any further arrangements for your family. So, for your own sake and theirs, you should make a will if you have not already done so, and you should keep it up to date. If you are married or have a cohabiting partner, then you may wish to draw up wills at the same time.

If you consult a solicitor, they will give you an estimate of their fee before carrying out work on your behalf. It may be less then you expect and it will be money spent wisely.

To download the Making a Will Publication please select the relevant area: