Category Archives: Funeral Options

Funeral finance plans – are they worth it?

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With the average funeral costing around £3000, many people worry about how they will cover the cost of paying for their funeral. Of course the majority of people pay for their funeral directly from their estate but if you’re concerned that you won’t have sufficient funds, a funeral finance plan could be the solution.
There are a number of designated funeral finance plan providers operating in the UK offering schemes designed to be paid into in advance, either for your own funeral or someone else’s such as your spouse. The alternative to paying into a funeral finance plan is to open a savings account but with interest rates currently so low, a pre-paid funeral plan could be the best choice if you are looking for peace of mind.
So what is a funeral finance plan and how do they work? Put simply, a funeral finance plan is a way to pay for your funeral costs in advance. Funeral finance schemes are operated by specialist plan providers and some funeral directors also offer schemes. Money is either paid into the scheme in instalments or a lump sum, this money is then either invested into a trust fund which is managed by trustees, or an insurance policy and the money is paid out for the funeral whenever it takes place.
It is worth noting that funeral finance plans are not authorised or regulated by the Financial Services Authority which means that the FSA’s compensation and complaints procedures do not apply if things go wrong. Funeral finance plan providers can, if they agree to meet the requirements, register their services with the Funeral Planning Authority although they are under no obligation to do this. The Funeral Planning Authority’s website contains a list of FPA registered providers.
Before signing up for a funeral finance plan, it’s a good idea to consider a few important issues. For example, will your chosen plan allow you to use the funeral director of your choice? What will happen if you die overseas? What will happen if there are extra expenses for arranging your funeral? Can the plan be cancelled and will there be any charges for this? How long will you have to pay into the plan and what happens if you die whilst payments are still due? Any reputable funeral finance service will be more than happy to answer your questions and if you have any concerns, contacting the Funeral Planning Authority for advice is a sensible course of action.
If you do decide that a funeral finance plan is right for you, make sure that you let your next of kin know. You should be given a written record of the arrangements for your funeral plan; keep these records safe and let your family or friends know where this documentation is kept. Whilst a funeral finance plan is not for everyone, having the peace of mind to know that the cost of your funeral has been covered can be a great source of comfort and reassurance.

Planning a Green Funeral

What makes a green funeral?

According to Leeds based funeral directors, increasing numbers of people are considering a green funeral and with increasing pressure on overcrowded cemeteries, churchyards and crematorium, consideration for the environment is becoming an important element of funeral planning.

Choosing to be buried in a natural burial ground is not for everyone and if you think it could be right for you, it’s important to visit a couple of natural burial grounds before making a decision. It’s much harder to make decisions in the immediate aftermath of someone’s death so to minimise the pressure on your loved ones, letting them know about your plans is vital. There are around three hundred natural burial grounds currently open in the UK with the number growing and the association of Natural Burial Grounds can be contacted for more information.

It’s interesting to note that the use of a coffin in a funeral in not required in UK law. Whilst it goes without saying that dead bodies should be covered in public, it is entirely up to you whether you are buried in a coffin, basket or a simple shroud. The options for different coffin designs are very wide and if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly design, willow coffins fit the bill perfectly. It is also possible to buy coffins made from 100% environmentally friendly wood, complete with biodegradable lining and handles.

Natural funeral flowers are a lovely way to add a beautiful finishing touch to a green funeral and natural, wildflower arrangements are becoming increasingly popular. The best funeral flowers are those that reflect the personality of the deceased and sadly most of the traditional funeral wreaths and displays that are available from many florists are simply too formal. Natural funeral flowers look as though they have just been picked from a garden or wild flower meadow and the flowers used are seasonal and native to the UK. It is even possible to buy natural funeral arrangements made from fruit or vegetables – perfect for commemorating the life of a keen gardener!

When it comes to planning a green funeral you’ll find that there is a wide – and growing – choice of different options. Funerals should be as unique as the person who is died and to make your green funeral as special as possible, you could add a range of unusual finishing touches. If the environment is important to you, why not consider a greener alternative to the traditional funeral transport of a hearse and fleet of funeral? A number of companies now offer a horse drawn carriage hearse whilst it is also possible to have your coffin transported using bicycle power!

How you plan your funeral isn’t restricted by rules and regulations and the details of your final send-off are entirely up to you. Planning a greener funeral is simply about having a funeral that is as natural as possible and how you go about that is your decision: whether you opt for a coffin made from recycled materials or to be buried in a shroud the range of choices is huge.

Are there any alternatives to traditional burial or cremation?

The decision on what is to be done with a body after death is always a sensitive one. In the past, a traditional burial or cremations were the only options available, but with huge pressure on overcrowded church graveyards and cemeteries, many people are looking for other options when planning their funeral.
Whilst a traditional burial is still the most popular option in the UK, the range of alternatives is beginning to grow and range from the practical or environmentally friendly, through to some which are more unusual.
In the UK, a traditional burial means the internment of a body in the ground, either in a churchyard or cemetery. Most cemeteries are non-denominational which means that a range of different religious funeral services can be carried out in them and churchyards, obviously, belong to the denomination of the church they are joined to. It is possible to pre-buy a plot in a cemetery and if someone owns a plot, a Deed of Grant is required to prove this. The price of a plot will vary enormously and depends on the location; it’s important to note that many plots, particularly those in major cities are sold on a lease basis which normally expires after around 75 years, up to a maximum of 100 years.
The plot system in consecrated churchyards is slightly different as anyone who is a parishioner of that church has a right to be buried in the graveyard as long as there is sufficient space available. The right to be buried in a churchyard is also extended to anyone who is on the electoral roll of the parish at the time of their death. Anyone who wishes to be buried in a particular churchyard but doesn’t fit one of these categories has to seek permission of the church authority whose decision will be final. It’s also worth mentioning that some churchyards have restrictions on the size or shape of grave memorials and headstones so it’s important to check before making arrangements.
Cremation now exceeds burials as the most popular option in the UK and current data shows that approximately 70% of all funerals now consist of a cremation. Although this rise has helped to ease the burden on increasingly overcrowded graveyards, many crematoriums in the UK are now incredibly busy, resulting in an impersonal, ‘conveyor-belt’ feel to some cremation ceremonies. The majority of Christian denominations permit cremations, however it is not allowed by Muslims and Orthodox Jews. Cremation is the usual method of body disposal for the Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu religions.
Whilst these are the most usual forms of body disposal in the UK, there are a couple of other options for those who are interested in finding something more unusual. Despite popular belief, it is possible to be buried at home, provided that particular health and safety issues or public health risks are assessed first. There are a number of issues to consider if you’re interested in a home burial, not least a planning permission requirement to change your garden from a garden to a ‘burial ground’ and the potential impact that a grave in your back garden could have on the future sale value of the property.
Another option and one which is still rarely used in the UK, is body donation. Body donation is different to organ donation: organ donation is very simple and millions of people have signed up to the Organ Donor scheme. However body donation is much more complicated and calls for pre-planning before it can be arranged. The ideal option for those for whom creation or burial has no appeal, body donation offers a low-cost, low-fuss solution.