Regular readers will know that I am not a great fan of funeral plans. Paying for a funeral is something which the estate should naturally pay for and the conversation ought to start before the big event. I can remember my father telling me quite some time before he died that, although his will stipulated burial, he changed his mind and wanted to be cremated and he told me the kind of service he would like. No problem, no funeral plan. There is also the risk that funeral plans can become an industry for financial extraction and it is good to see that the Government is pressing ahead with its investigation. The Government has also announced recently an investigation into the provision of services by funeral directors and the owners of crematoria. I recently saw on the web a few good tips about what you should consider in relation to funeral services.
• Do you need a funeral director in the first place? Some people are perfectly able to manage without one but there are practical challenges involved. It might therefore be the case that you only require some advice from a funeral director rather than a complete package.
• Make sure you are happy about the price you are going to be charged. Check that they make their prices readily available online or elsewhere. Also it is a good idea to let the funeral director know that you are considering other funeral directors. Be careful to ask about any other additional costs. Even if it is not possible for the funeral director to quote an exact price he or she should be able to give you a very good estimate before you decide to make a contractual commitment.
• If you are not wholly focussed on price then do investigate exactly what it is you are getting for your money. Perhaps you want to see the place where the deceased will be kept pending the funeral. You don’t want to be stuck in what might look like an untidy storage room.
• The smaller funeral directors will probably be able to offer a more flexible service and don’t assume that that the firm you choose is a family firm simply because of the family sounding name. Funeral chains, apart from the Co-op, buy up funeral firms but often keep the name.
• If the deceased was in a nursing home, don’t take for granted that you have to use a firm that the home recommends and don’t let the home rush you into a decision.
But coming back to my Dad’s case, the best advice is to have the conversations with family and friends before you or they die. Knowing what people want or care about is extremely useful to the person who will find themselves arranging the funeral.