UK trails Europe in funeral planning

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Awareness of how to manage funeral costs in the UK is rising but still lags far behind other EU countries, according to research.

According to research commissioned by Funeral Zone, a free online resource for bereaved people, and undertaken by YouGov, only 6% of people in the UK have a pre-paid funeral plan in place - this in spite of the fact that the average funeral now costs £4100 and is projected to rise beyond £7000 by 2020*.

Worryingly only 3% of those polled in Wales had a funeral plan. A similarly modest 5% in Scotland and 6% in England illustrate a lack of willingness on the part of Britons to plan for funeral costs. Those living in Northern Ireland are most likely to have thought about funeral costs, with 13% of adults there investing in a plan.

By contrast, on mainland Europe, attitudes to funeral and end of life planning are more mature. For example, in Holland, 70% have a funeral insurance product or pre-paid plan, while in Spain 20m have funeral insurance in place.

Who buys funeral plans?

UK awareness of the need to plan is greatest among people who are widowed. Thirty percent of those who have been bereaved have invested in a funeral plan, while people who have never married are least likely to have bought a plan with only 2% saying they owned a plan.

  • Nearly one in three (30%) of widows and widowers said that they had a pre-paid funeral plan, compared to just 9% of those who are separated or divorced
  • Only 8% of those who are married or in a civil partnership have a funeral plan in place
  • Of those who have never married, only 2% said they had arranged a funeral plan

Which age group is best prepared?

Age is a factor in planning for funeral costs. The over 50s are most likely to have bought a pre-paid plan (13%), while only 2% of those under 44 and 3% of those over 45 have a plan in place. That said, as a whole only one in six retirees has a funeral plan.

When analysing the results by gender, although a larger percentage of women had funeral plans in place, there was relatively little difference between men and women.

Plan to beat rising funeral costs

As many as 10m people in the UK have no cash savings. This lack of ready funds means they could struggle to cover funerals costs and may need to resort to credit and personal loans to pay for funeral costs, which inevitably brings with it added stress and uncertainty at a particularly distressing time.

It makes financial sense to buy a prepaid plan - you will save money by protecting against any potential rise in funeral costs for services included in the plan. We currently enjoy record low inflation in the UK, but funeral costs in 2015 increased by 3.9%*, compared to an annual inflation rate of 1.0%, as measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI).

Making provision for end of life should be seen as a natural and sensible step and the earlier we accept this and discuss the options open to us the better. Prepaid plans, if nothing else, can be a simple way of ensuring your loved ones are protected in the future against unexpected costs and the worry of planning a loved one's funeral.

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Tags: pre-paid funeral end of life planning Funeral Zone funeral costs funeral planning

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