What is a direct cremation?
Direct cremation is simply the cremation process but with no funeral service, so no family or friends in attendance. Also referred to as a direct funeral, it offers a fuss free, simple and cheap funeral alternative that has been growing in popularity throughout the UK over recent years.
Brought into the limelight by David Bowie who chose direct cremation because he wanted to be remembered for his music and not his funeral, this type of no service funeral appeals for a number of reasons:
- The main reason people choose a cremation without a funeral is to avoid the upset of a funeral service. Instead of a sombre affair at the crematorium, they would rather give the family the freedom to say goodbye how they choose; be it a knees up down the local pub or a more relaxing family get together, perhaps in a special place.
- Direct funerals are a fraction of the price of the more traditional option, so if you are searching for cheap funerals, either because you want to keep costs to a minimum or would rather give the money to family, this might be the plan for you.
- Family members don’t always get on, live in far flung destinations or may have dwindled over the years; so arranging a funeral may be difficult to do. The simplicity of choosing a no service cremation can therefore also make things a little easier on you.
Direct cremation isn’t for everyone; but the thing to remember is that you don’t have to have a funeral service at a crematorium or church. There’s now an alternative that is equally dignified and respectful, offers freedom and flexibility, is cheaper and perfect for those of us who just don’t like funerals.
How does a direct funeral plan work?
As demand for a ‘no funeral just cremation’ style service has increased, a number of companies now provide prepaid direct funeral plans that let you arrange and pay for your services in advice. This not only saves money as you are avoiding future inflation, it also makes things a lot easier for the family when the time comes as you have pre-arranged everything for them.
A direct cremation funeral plan ensures that when the time comes, the company arranging the cremation only service will organise collection, care for the deceased until the time of the cremation, complete the legally required paperwork and arrange and carry out the cremation process. The ashes can then either be returned to family, or scattered on the garden of remembrance.
So in very simple terms, all ‘no funeral just cremation’ style plans include 3 main elements:
- Collection of the deceased
- The cremation process
- Return or scattering of the ashes
The reality of how some companies charge for these services however is somewhat different and can lead to hidden extras; so be warned; a cheap plan may not end up being that cheap in the long run if you are not careful.
We savvy savers at Simply Funeral Plans believe a guarantee should be a guarantee, not a ‘ well you might have to pay extra for this’ type guarantee; so let’s get down to business and spill the beans on what you should expect when comparing plans:
Collection of the deceased
All direct funeral plans include collection but there are some loop holes that can lead to further costs. For example, many plan providers offer free collection either from a hospital or hospice (basically anywhere with a mortuary) but charge up to £250 extra for collection from home or a nursing home. In addition with some plans you may have to pay more if collection is out of core working hours and not all companies operate throughout the whole of the UK.
The cremation process
With rising cremation costs it’s important to find a direct funeral plan that fully guarantees the cremation fees. Some providers only include a contribution towards this service which means there could be more for the family to pay when the time comes. You may also be required to pay doctors fees for a second death certificate however a forth coming change in the law in line with changes already introduced in Scotland means this may not be relevant in the near future.
As mentioned, the ashes can either be scattered at the garden of remembrance or returned to the family; it’s entirely up to you. Many companies will charge for the ashes to be returned however and rely on a courier for delivery which some people may find a little disconcerting.
What is the best cremation only funeral plan?
The best direct funeral plan will depend on your personal requirements and of course your budget. Plan prices range from £1,500 to £2,000 and are offered by leading funeral plan companies such as Golden Charter, Dignity, Golden Leaves and Safe Hands as well as more specialist direct cremation companies like Pure Cremation, Memoria, Simplicita and Respect-Express.
Having extensively reviewed and compared direct cremation plans, the company we have chosen to recommend is Simplicity Cremations, part of the award winning funeral planning company Dignity.
Simplicity offer a 100% guarantee for all of the services included in their plans and provide a regional service using their own crematoriums located throughout the country – something that cannot be said of many other companies that only operate from one location,
Simplicity plans include collection from anywhere in UK and at any time of the day with no hidden charges. The cremation fees are also guaranteed and the ashes can either be returned back to the family or scattered on the garden of remembrance.
What’s more with three plans to choose from, Simplicity offers flexibility for families to choose the type of service they really want. Their Lily plan includes a simple direct cremation with no one in attendance however the Magnolia and Orchid Plans provide the opportunity for friends and family to attend – perfect for those who are looking for something simple but may still want some kind of gathering at the crematorium.
Your money is held safe and secure in a trust fund, ring fenced ready to pay for your cremation services and importantly Dignity is registered with and therefore regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority, which means they comply with their strict rules and code of practise as to how your money is held and the services you receive.
You can pay for your Simplicity funeral plan either in one go or over 12 months without incurring additional fees. Alternatively if you prefer to spread your costs of a longer period, monthly payment funeral plans are available between 2 to 10 years.
In a nutshell, these comparatively cheap funeral plans offer value for money, complete reassurance and most importantly the freedom for families to choose how they prefer to say goodbye.
What are the pros and cons of direct cremation?
Choosing cremation without a funeral service is a big decision, so it is important to speak to your family and weigh up the following pros and cons together, so you can decide on the best option for you.
It may take time for them to understand the differences between cremation only plans and more traditional prepaid funeral plans and to appreciate that there are now alternatives that are just as respectful but provide the freedom to ‘say goodbye’ your own way, in a more relaxed and familiar setting.
Pros of a direct funeral
- Simple, non religious cremation with no fuss
- Saves money as half the price of a traditional funeral plan
- No upsetting funeral service at a church or crematorium
- Leaves family free to arrange a service where and when they choose
- Ashes are returned if requested for family to keep, scatter or bury
Cons of a direct funeral
- No family viewing at a chapel of rest
- The crematorium may not be local to you
- No funeral service at the crematorium or church
- No family or friends in attendance*
If you do decide that you prefer a more traditional funeral with a service, take a look at our prepaid funeral plan comparison plan section.
Alternatively if you are looking at low cost options and would rather make lower payments on a monthly basis, you may want to take a look at monthly funeral plans and also our guide to Over 50 Life Insurance. Whilst the over 50 life cover won’t provide your funeral services, it is a way you could leave a cash lump sum for family to help towards the funeral costs.
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