I have mentioned in previous blogs my views of funeral plans. Although they serve a useful purpose in some situations, they are often unnecessary and also are often mis-sold. It is good to see that support is growing in Parliament for their proper regulation.
Leading the campaign is Neil Gray who rightly brings our attention to the great work of Heather Kennedy at the Fair Funerals Campaign fairfuneralscampaign.org.uk. This is a Quaker inspired charity which is bringing to our attention the distress which the high cost of funerals can bring to many people and is promoting practical steps to improve the situation.
In one recent case, a man found himself tied into an expensive funeral plan after his father died. He told Fair Funerals Company ”After dad died we found out he’d been paying into a funeral plan for six months. We asked the funeral director what to do. I’m on a low income, but they told me to sign a contract with them because “it’s what dad would have wanted”. Suddenly they wanted almost £8,000 and I had to pay before dad’s funeral.”
“At first they said they absolutely couldn’t make any changes to the contract. They put a lot of pressure on me to do “what dad would have wanted” which seemed to be code for spending a lot of money”.
“I phoned the charity who explained to the funeral director that I wouldn’t be able to pay that due to my low income. The funeral directors eventually agreed to reduce the price to £5000. I shudder to think how other people cope in my situation”.
Funeral poverty is still thankfully relatively unusual. In most cases the estate can bear the cost. In probate funeral costs are deductible from the estate for the purpose of calculating inheritance tax and the new increased probate registry fees.
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