There are lots of options when it comes to putting your affairs in order and funeral planning is no exception. You need to know that you can trust that the service provided will meet your expectations, as well as those of your loved ones. It's also important that the process is as simple as possible, so that you can get on with enjoying later life.
Here is a list of useful questions to ask when choosing a funeral plan provider. It's an important decision to make and you should never feel rushed or pressured into buying a plan.
Who are you buying your plan from?
It is important to check that the funeral plan provider is registered with a professional body like the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). It's their job to protect consumers' interests in the Funeral Planning sector across the UK. As part of their Code of Conduct, the FPA offers some protection to customers. Dignity, our chosen funeral plan provider, is regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority.
The Age UK Funeral Plan** has been highly rated by independent reviewers and is a Gold Trusted Service Feefo Award winner.
The Age Co Rowan Funeral Plan has also been awarded 5 Stars by financial information experts, Defaqto, indicating that it provides one of the highest quality offerings in the market.
Defaqto is an independent financial information business whose job it is to help consumers make better informed decisions when buying financial products.
Defaqto Star Ratings are based on facts not opinions. They are created by a team of experts who analyse over 30 of the most important features and benefits of a product. A benchmark is then set for a 1 to 5 scoring system for each of them. Star Ratings indicate the quality and comprehensiveness of a product, which makes them an important gauge for consumers to use.
Am I eligible?
Check your eligibility with each provider before you invest large amounts of time (and money) conducting any further research. Depending on your age, you may not be eligible for some plans or all payment options.
With the Age Co Funeral Plan, you are guaranteed to be accepted if you are aged 50 or over, with no health or medical questions asked. Unlike other providers, there is also no upper age limit attached to any of our payment options.
What's covered by the plan?
There are many elements to a funeral and it can be hard to predict what costs there are likely to be, especially if you’ve never planned one before.
No two funeral plans are the same. Most providers will offer different types of plans which offer various levels of service and costs. However, very few funeral providers will offer the same package as another provider, so it is important that your chosen package contains everything you need. Picking the wrong plan could mean that there is more for your loved ones to pay in the future.
A funeral plan does not cover every cost. No pre-paid funeral plan can fully account for all the likely costs that will be required at a funeral. For example, no pre-paid plan will be able to fully cover the cost of a burial plot as these costs vary widely across the country. Other fees that could be affected include the church service fees and any floral tributes. The important thing to do is check the small print before you buy and for those costs that are not fully covered, check what level of contribution will be made and whether the contribution rises with inflation.
Most funeral plans will not include headstones, memorials or burial plots, although some will make contributions to these.
Be clear about what is and is not included before you buy. If the information from a provider is not clear, make sure you have all of the plan details in writing before you purchase to avoid any hidden surprises. You should never buy a funeral plan if you feel rushed or pressured into doing so.
All the costs and associated benefits of an Age Co Funeral Plan are explained clearly up-front and it’s important that you take as much time as you need to reach your decision. You can find all the key information within the Key Features Summary.
What happens if something changes?
A lot can change in between taking out a plan and it being used. When buying any funeral plan, you should make sure you are aware of any fixed conditions or additional costs in case your personal circumstances change, or you change your mind about something. You need to have the flexibility to adjust your plan accordingly.
Ask your provider whether you are able to change your plan without losing any of the money you’ve already paid. Find out if there is a cancellation fee to pay, and what the terms are for cancelling the plan. You should also ask whether you’ll need to keep up payments for life, or whether the payments are for a fixed-term.
The Age Co Funeral Plan is one of the most flexible plans on the market:
- If you decide to move home, your price guarantee will remain the same and your plan won’t change. Where necessary, we can even look at appointing a new Nominated Funeral Director closer to your new home. There is also no charge for updating your details.
- If you’re paying by instalments, you can pay off the plan early without a penalty charge.
- If you change your mind, you can easily cancel your plan at any time with a 100% money back guarantee.
Is your plan protected from inflation?
Average funeral costs in the UK have more than doubled since 2004, according to the 2017 SunLife Cost of Dying Report. With these costs likely to continue to increase year on year, you need to know that your plan will cover your costs in the future.
You may have considered other options for funding a funeral, such as leaving money in a savings account or another investment. However, as the amount needed for a funeral is likely to rise over time, it is important to ensure that these other options will keep pace with the rise in costs.
You may also have considered an over 50s life insurance policy, designed to leave your loved ones a tax-free lump sum in the event of your death. Again, these are not likely to increase at the same rate as the rise in costs. Your family could find that the amount available doesn't go very far towards yours costs, or that there are certain clauses within the policy. For instance, the policy may not pay out until a certain number of monthly payments have been made.
An Age Co Funeral Plan is a prepaid funeral plan, which means you are paying for your funeral services and arrangements in advance. This means that your plan remains unaffected by inflation and interest rates. You can ‘lock in’ the funeral costs outlined in the pre paid plan at today’s prices, regardless of how much funeral costs may rise in the future.
What are your payment options?
The way in which you can pay for a funeral plan can vary depending on the provider. Some allow you to pay via lump sum and instalments, but it is important to remember that paying in instalments could cost more because of administration fees and instalment charges. As the terms and conditions will vary by provider, it's important that you check the small print and ensure you're choosing the payment option that suits you best. For instance, if you are paying in instalments and a claim is made before you’ve completed your payments, some providers will require the outstanding amount to be met by your estate. This is important to check as some providers could even cancel the funeral plan altogether.
With an Age Co Funeral Plan, you can purchase online, over the phone or at your nearest Age UK and payment options vary from 12 to 300 months. Instalments over 12 months will incur an administration charge. Payments can be made by cheque, credit or debit card, direct debit, standing order, post office instalments or at your nearest Age UK. However, please note, not all Age UK offices offer Age Co products, so it’s best to phone before you visit. Because it’s an Age Co Funeral Plan, Dignity were asked to remove their usual age cap. If you decide to pay using instalments, it’s really important that you choose the right instalment option that meets your individual needs and circumstances. For example, we would suggest that the instalment plan you choose completes before you reach 85 years of age, but whatever you choose, you should be clear about what happens if you don’t complete your instalments before you die.
How and where is your money being looked after?
As with any payment, it is important to know where your money is and how it’s being looked after. We will all incur the cost of a funeral one day, so you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Ideally it should be stored in a Trust Fund, which is independently managed.
With an Age Co Funeral Plan, the money required for your funeral is held safely in an independent Trust Fund until it’s needed. The Trust is legally separate from Age UK Enterprises Limited, Dignity and any Funeral Director. This means that if something were to happen to any of these organisations, your money would still be protected. You can find out more or view The Trust Fund’s annual audit report by getting in touch.
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