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Not talking about death could mean ‘funeral poverty’ for families

Tracy Talbot, commercial director, Prosperous Life

The term “funeral poverty” is described to coin the ever-increasing number of families
who struggle to pay for funerals for their loved ones. This happens often as people vastly underestimate the cost of a funeral. In the year 2004, the average cost of a funeral sat just below £2000, whilst in 2017 it was already creeping up to just below £4000 – figures show that in 2018 the average spend was £4,078, a huge amount of money that can cause big problems for the families of loved ones who die without life insurance or a funeral plan.

So, where does this increasing cost come from?

It may be easy to point the finger at many aspects of funeral costs, but most people within the industry put the price hikes down to being completely out of their control. It is predicted that in ten years the cost could stand at more than £7000, while by 2036 research shows average costs of around £12,000 are likely*.

That is suddenly a lot of money for families to just ‘find’ leaving many struggling to pay for the costs.

To avoid ‘funeral poverty’ for families it is important to begin to encourage them to start talking about death as soon as possible to allow the necessary arrangements to be put in place. We understand that the topic of death is one that many people put off time and time again but talking about death is as an important topic as others. When a loved one is lost, families just want the very best send off and costs can quickly escalate, and because the family is in distress, they don’t think about the ongoing financial burden of paying it all off when the funeral is over.

Families who talk openly about the inevitable are the ones that can avoid ‘funeral poverty’. There is never a right moment to talk about death and the arrangements needed, it seems it is always easier to put it off. But those who put it off are potentially doing their loved ones a disservice. The fact is that death can come to anyone at anytime. We all like to think that we will die old and peacefully in our sleep, but death is very unpredictable and therefore everyone needs to prepare.

It is vitally important that in our industry we approach clients and ask them “do their families know how or even where they want their funeral to take place?” “What arrangements do they want to take place?” “Do they want to be buried or cremated?” In order for them to start to prepare.

A recent survey by Prosperous Life, a leading pre-paid funeral service provider revealed that a massive 72% of the population admitted to still not having made any preparations or arrangements for when they die and 60% of over 55s had nothing in place upon the event of their death. In addition, reiterating why it is good to talk about this subject, sadly, 65% of all those surveyed didn’t know the wishes of their immediate family including whether they wanted to be cremated or buried.

All these elements of a funeral can have a great impact on the overall cost, so encouraging families to talk about death is the wise thing to do to avoid ‘funeral poverty’

One of the ways you can help families to plan for the costs of the funeral and avoid ‘funeral poverty’ is by advising them to take out a pre-paid funeral plan. It ensures that the stress of paying for a funeral is greatly reduced for the family, especially at a time when the family will be already going through a lot. By investing in a funeral plan a family is more financially secure when the time comes and all it takes is putting a little money a side on a regular basis.

The added benefit of a pre-paid funeral plan is that the family can fix the cost of the funeral directors’ services now at today’s prices. A funeral plan will pay the fees of a funeral director and will be fixed for the lifetime of a plan, regardless of how much these cost may rise in the future. The money invested grows in a secure Trust to cover the costs of the funeral when the time comes.

Planning for death may seem like a morbid thing to do, but people shouldn’t see it like that, they should see it more as an investment in their family. We need to break the taboo and encourage clients that it is good and sensible to talk about death. Planning today so that they, and their families can enjoy tomorrow will ensure that generations will avoid ‘funeral poverty’ when the time comes.

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