The essential appeal of any funeral plan is its simplicity – by making the arrangements in advance, you have a definite say in how they will be conducted when the time eventually comes and by paying for those arrangements at today’s prices, you stand to beat the almost inevitable effects of inflation.
Whilst any prepaid funeral plan typically includes – and guarantees the cost of – certain basic services, most providers also offer a range of different packages offering more elaborate arrangements, whilst even more basic ceremonies may be conducted through so-called direct cremations or even “do-it-yourself” arrangements.
Simple funeral plans
- Simple funeral plans all share a number of basic services, typically provided by a funeral director, in common. These include:
- professional advice and guidance by the funeral director of every aspect relating to the death, its certification and the funeral arrangements to be conducted
- collection of the deceased and transport to the funeral home (typically within a given distance)
- care for and preparation of the body
- the provision of a coffin – the quality of which may vary according to the level of funeral plan chosen (some people opt for a cardboard coffin in order to keep costs low)
- arrangements for the viewing of the deceased
- arranging the funeral services – either at a crematorium or local cemetery
- provision of a hearse (it is important to note that additional limousines for family and mourners may depend on the level of funeral plan chosen but are not usually included in a simple funeral plan).
These are the funeral director’s costs typically guaranteed at today’s prices by simple funeral plans, leaving nothing else to pay to them when the day eventually comes – a guarantee that may be relied upon especially when the provider is a registered member of the Funeral Planning Authority.
In addition to such basic services, however, many more reputable providers of funeral plans offer a range of packages so that you have greater choice. For example, they may guarantee to cover not only the funeral director’s costs, but also the cost of cremation and the fees of any minister conducting the service. Others may offer a generous allowance towards the cost of burial as an alternative.
Direct cremation plans are also available, as a still cheaper, simpler alternative to services offered by a funeral director - prices are currently around the £1,200 mark – and have been popularised by celebrities such as David Bowie.
Direct cremation – also known as direct disposal – dispenses with the services of a funeral director and is, effectively, a cremation without a funeral service. This might appeal to someone who sees little or no point in holding a formal ceremony, who would rather save money on funeral costs and use ‘the difference” to give to charity or perhaps have a memorial.
And of course, it may be suitable for people who are simply unable to afford the expense of a funeral service.
Currently, it is not possible to prepay any direct cremation plan.
Provided the necessary registration of the death has been completed, a still cheaper alternative may be burial in your own back garden.
As the website Garden Law suggests, however, questions about planning permission from your local authority and the law concerning such burials is less than clear – not to mention the longer-term implications likely to arise when it comes to selling the property concerned.
So is a simple funeral plan for you?
Well as you can see from this introduction into your simple plan options, you can make things very simple ranging to comprehensive in terms of the "extras" you can add on; whichever option you choose a prepaid funeral plan should make life much easier for your family when the time comes.