Top 10 Funeral Plan Choices

Funeral plans are an ever more popular way to cut costs and ensure peace of mind. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose – and your choices are the most important part of any plan. Here, then, are the top 10 funeral plan decisions that millions of people have already made and will continue to make in the years ahead.

Our Clients Top Ten Funeral Plan Choices

1. Burial or cremation?
A hundred years ago, most people would have automatically opted for burial, but today we recognize that it’s good to have a choice. Burial is the traditional route, allowing you to have a permanent grave that your family and friends can visit whenever they wish with flowers and other tokens of remembrance. You can choose a headstone and other forms of decoration, and if your family has lived in an area for a long time, your grave may be surrounded by those of relatives stretching back for many generations. Cremation, on the other hand, can seem a quicker and more convenient option, allowing you to have your ashes to be scattered at a location that was important to you during life or placed in an urn and stored permanently in a special location at a church or other religious site. Or would you prefer your ashes to be kept by your loved ones? Our modern willingness to travel and re-locate means that a grave may become difficult to visit, but an urn can move with your loved ones wherever they may decide to live in future.

2. Who do you want to attend the funeral? 
After a long life, many people will have different circles of friends, some of whom may not know each other or even be aware of each other’s existence. And of course we sometimes become estranged from people who were formerly close to us or have friends who don’t get along with each other. By drawing up a list of those you want to attend your funeral, with full contact details, you can ensure that there will be no difficulties when the time comes. You can talk over your choices with your nearest and dearest, making sure that there will be no surprises and that your funeral is conducted in a harmonious and friendly spirit. You can also decide whether you want to inform people in advance that you would like them to attend, or whether you want to reach out after passing, perhaps allowing those who have slipped from your life to say a final farewell.

3. Do you want a religious or non-religious service? 
This again is something that, a hundred years ago, would once have been an automatic decision. People would have chosen a religious service within their particular faith, knowing that they were following in a long tradition and that they might have upset or puzzled family and friends by making any other choice. Today there isn’t an automatic expectation of a religious service and there is much more room for individual preferences to be exercised. Where once there was a firm belief in an afterlife, nowadays many people think that nothing survives death. Our feelings on these matters will obviously affect our decisions about our funeral. Will our service celebrate the life that has ended without any mention of religion and spiritual survival? Or will it place the departed person in the care of God and look forward to a time when those attending the funeral will be re-united with that departed person? 

4. What music do you want played at the service? 
Music and singing have always been an important part of funerals, but while in the past these things would have been religious in form and sentiment, today it’s increasingly common for secular alternatives. But of course there’s no reason why you can’t mix hymns and popular music, allowing your family and friends to unite in the singing of a hymn like “Abide With Me” before they fall silent to listen to your favourite piece of popular music. Because music is so varied in styles, genres, and the emotions it expresses, it’s an ideal way to make individual choices and ensure that your funeral is a unique and memorable occasion. Or perhaps you’d prefer something traditional, with music that resonates with history and that your ancestors would have recognized and appreciated.

5. What poems and other texts do you want to be read at the service? 
One of the most memorable parts of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral was the reading of “Stop All the Clocks”, a beautiful and moving poem by the poet W.H. Auden. It was a perfect example of how the right choice of reading can both express and channel the emotions of those who are attending the funeral. And it undoubtedly influenced the way funerals are conducted in real life. Just like music, the choices that people feel able to make today are much wider than they were in the past. Once all readings would have been religious in character, drawn from traditional texts like the Bible and books of prayer. Now we can replace those entirely with secular readings, or choose a careful mix of the two, depending on how we want to shape and pace the funeral service. Poetry will always be a popular choice, but many people have favourite passages in novels or short stories that they may wish to have read. And there is, of course, nothing to stop us or our loved ones from composing words of our own.

6. What flowers and other symbols do you want at the service? 
Someone who has been a keen gardener during life may think that this is the most important choice to be made about a funeral. Flowers are certainly central to most people’s ideas about how a funeral should look. Do you want bright and cheerful blooms, or something darker and more dignified? Do we want flowers on our coffin or dropped into the grave before it is filled in? There are many other symbols to consider too. Like music and readings, our choices might once have been automatically religious, but today we can choose to celebrate other aspects of our lives. A passionate football fan might want to go to rest surrounded by reminders of their favourite team; a life-long devotee of Star Wars or of super-heroes like Batman might want pictures to celebrate their fandom. They might even want those attending to wear suitable costumes. Themed funerals are becoming ever more popular, allowing your family and friends to participate even more directly and memorably in the occasion.

7. Funeral service before or afterwards? 
The timing of the service can have an important influence on the form of the service. Do you want it to take place before burial or cremation? Or would you prefer it to take place afterwards? If it takes place before, it’s preparing your family and friends for the emotions and heart-ache of finally saying goodbye. If it takes place afterwards, it’s helping them to cope with those emotions and giving them a space to recover. In the two cases, your choice of music and readings may be different. Of course, you can choose to have services of varying length both before and after – as always, the choices are yours and you can re-visit them at any time you choose.

8. What kind of food and drink do you want to be served? 
Choices about food and drink are another way for someone drawing up a funeral plan to express their individuality and to create a memorable occasion for those will be attending the funeral. Perhaps you’ll want your favourite wine or beer to be served; perhaps you’ll have a favourite recipe for the food. You might even decide to prepare some of the food yourself in advance, if it can be stored or frozen until the time comes. Food can be both a delicious reality and a powerful symbol, reminding us in the midst of grief that the world has not become wholly bleak and that life will continue, slowly returning us to acceptance and peace.

9. What do you want on your gravestone? Where do you want your ashes to be scattered or a memorial plaque to be fixed? What kind of online memorial would you like? 
It’s always fascinating to read the inscriptions on gravestones in an old church, seeing what messages people chose to send down the decades. At one time, the messages were usually religious, taken from the Bible and other sacred texts and speaking of final rest and peace in the afterlife. More recently, messages of other kinds have become more common. If you choose to be buried, you may have strong feelings about the kind of message you want placed on your gravestone. Or you may choose something very simple, like a name and date of passing. It’s entirely up to you. If you choose to be cremated instead, you may have strong feelings about where you want your ashes to be scattered or stored. A fisherman might want their ashes poured into the water at a favourite fishing spot; a sports fan might request that their ashes are scattered at the ground of their favourite team. Or would you prefer permanent storage in an urn placed in a niche at your local church or other site of worship? Whether you choose burial or cremation, you can also be remembered on-line at a specialist memorial site or at the private pages you maintained at your favourite social media site. You can design something yourself, making it as elaborate or simple as you please. On-line interactivity means that family and friends based anywhere in the world can continue to visit and commemorate you at any time they choose in the future.

10. Do you want donations in your name to charity? 
A funeral is inevitably a time when the departed person becomes central to the thoughts and feelings of those who are in attendance. It’s therefore also an excellent time to honour that person’s memory by making a donation to a charity that was important to them during life. When you’re drawing up your funeral plan, you can choose what charities you would like people to donate to. When the funeral is conducted, the names and details of charities can be included on an order of service, which sets out how the service will be conducted. After the funeral, the same names and details can be permanently displayed at your on-line memorial, with links for quick and convenient donating in the name of the departed person. 

Final Thoughts

Your funeral plan allows choose exactly how you want things to be run. By thinking ahead, you can make decisions in the best possible way: without pressure and without any need to hurry. After that, you can relax and enjoy complete peace of mind, knowing that your funeral plan is in place and that your family and friends won’t have the burden of making difficult and delicate decisions right when they’re least able and willing to make them.

Get in touch with us to find out more about U-PLAN’s Funeral Plans and to receive your free quotation.

funeral plans in Cheshire

The Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2017

The annual report is a result of a survey of 1,524 adults in the UK who have been responsible for planning a funeral and administrating an estate in the last 4 years. In addition to this, 100 funeral directors based across 10 regions throughout the UK have also been surveyed.

 

Funeral Costs – another year, another rise.

The Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2017 follows in the footsteps of previous annual reports highlighting that funeral costs have continued to rise for the 14th year in a row, albeit at a slightly lower rate.

With an increase of 4.7%, the average cost of a funeral in the UK stands at £4,078.

These funeral costs focus on a combination of cremation and burial funeral services, individually the average costs are:

  • £3,596 for a Cremation funeral
  • £4,561 for a Burial funeral

When the increase in funeral costs are compared directly with other product and services increases over the last decade, the figures make alarming reading:

  • Funeral Costs – 70.6%
  • Electricity Bills – 42.2%
  • Weekly Wages –  20%
  • House Prices – 19.8%
  • Petrol Prices – 19.6%
  • Bread – 15.7%

 

A post code lottery.

Funeral costs continue to vary enormously by region, even more so when you factor in whether the funeral service is for a cremation or a burial.

London is the most expensive place when it comes to funeral costs at £5,951, 40% more than the national average of £4,078.00. When you further separate these figures by either cremation or burial, the figures are heavily skewed by the costs of a burial in the London area.

Whilst burial costs in London are a significant 60% over the UK average, funeral costs for a cremation funeral in the same area are only 27.7% greater.

This in part perhaps explains why the percentage of people opting for a cremation funeral compared to burial is ever increasing – now standing at 75%. With such high fees, people’s decisions on which type of funeral they opt for, could be swayed by how much it will cost.

For example, the cost of a burial funeral in the East and West Midlands is 10% over the UK average at £5,022 whereas the cost of a cremation funeral in the same area is almost 10% under the UK average at £3,245. A difference of approximately £2,000 between the two funeral types.

The report shows the ongoing increase in funeral costs but there are two exceptions. Funeral costs for both Northern Ireland and Wales have fallen in the last year, with the former now being the cheapest place to die.

 

Basic Funeral Costs. 

The cost of a basic funeral is calculated by adding together the funeral director’s fee and disbursements /3rd party fees which includes the cremation or burial fee, doctor’s fee and minister or celebrants fee.

The funeral directors fee.

The funeral director’s fee, which usually cover the cost of the coffin, hearse, collection and care of the deceased plus, the funeral director’s professional guidance, make up most of the cost of a basic funeral. This cost has risen, but not by as much as the overall cost of a funeral – it is up 3.3% over the past 12 months from £2,411 to £2,491.

Disbursements/3rd Party Fees.

Cremation and burial fees:

After the funeral director’s fee, the second largest cost is the cremation or burial fee, and the 2017 report shows that both these costs have risen more steeply than the overall cost of a funeral

In 2016, the average UK cremation fee was £733.

This has seen the largest increase of all costs – 7.9% to £791 – while the cost of a burial has risen by 5.6% % from £1,950 to £2,059.

Funeral directors suggest that councils putting up their prices is the main reason for the steep rise in crematorium costs.

Doctor’s fees:

This year, doctor’s fees for certification has remained unchanged at £164, but are £0 in Scotland.

Ministers/Celebrants fees:

The average fee paid for a religious minister or secular service celebrant has increased by 2% from £152 in 2016 to £155.

 

Other costs:

Funeral costs do not stop at just the funeral director’s fees and disbursements/3rd party costs. There are also other costs to factor, with more personal items such as flowers, notices and the reception, not to mention fees incurred to administer the deceased’s estate.

Although the fees for more personal items and services have dropped slightly, suggesting families are trying to cut costs where possible, the overall cost of these services including the average cost of a funeral has risen to a total cost of dying of £8,905 – a 50% increase in the last 10 years.

 

Trends & Traditions.

When it comes to the types of services that are popular, traditional services are falling further and further out of favour, with 68% of funeral directors saying they have seen a decrease in the number of religious funerals, and just 11% of those who organised a funeral for a loved one described the tone of the service as ‘religious’.

Eight in ten (82%) of funeral directors said they have seen an increase in the number of funerals that they would describe as a ‘celebration of life’ rather than mourning, and of those who organised a funeral, 31% described the funeral as a celebration of life.

Half of all funerals now include modern songs, music or anthems. There has also been an increase in the number of eco, environmental and woodland funerals; in 2016, just one in 14 (7.2%) funerals were eco, environmental or woodland funerals; this year, the number has increased to one in 11 (9.1%).

This year, 77% of funeral directors said they have access to a woodland burial site, down from 82% last year and 90% in 2015, but up considerably from 60% in 2014. Though it’s not clear why availability has risen and then fallen again, it could show that the increasing popularity of woodland burials is putting pressure on the limited number of sites.

 

Conclusion: A Prepaid Funeral Plan – a sensible and financially effective way to protect against rising funeral costs.

Considering all the above figures and facts in this report, it is clear again that due to continual rising funeral costs, a sensible strategy for every adult individual, is to secure a Prepaid Funeral Plan.

Far too many individuals do not talk about planning for their own end of life and,  in many instances, believe that the methods of putting money aside in a bank account or using investments or purchasing life insurance, will take care of these costs sensibly when the time of need arises.

True they may cover the cost, but these methods do not address the underlying problem of rising funeral costs. These methods will still have to pay out at significantly inflated prices at the actual time of death which could be decades into the future. The cost of this poor planning could be potentially, in the tens of thousands of pounds – and that’s just for a single adult.

A funeral plan will fix and freeze the price at the outset – at today’s prices. What you agree to pay now will not change at all in 10, 20 or 30 years time. With a funeral plan you can also plan and tailor your individual funeral preferences in more detail, ensuring you leave as little uncertainty and stress possible for your family and loved ones, when the time of need arises.

Get in touch with us and we will help you find a high quality prepaid funeral plan, with a leading UK provider, at the best comparable prices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Eulogy Questions

Being asked to provide the Eulogy at a funeral is both a big honour and a big responsibility. Here are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself if the honour and responsibility come your way.
1. Will you be able to do it?
Preparing a eulogy requires careful thought and attention to detail. These things may become difficult or impossible when we’re caught up in the whirlwind of emotions that accompany the passing of a loved one. Can you be sure that you’ll be able to deliver a eulogy before the many people who will be present at the funeral? It’s a public performance and you’ll want to give your best in honour of the departed. If you don’t feel that you will be able to do that, honesty is the best option.
2. Will you have help if you need it?
Every funeral, like every life, is unique, but if you’ve been through a funeral before you’ll know some of the things to expect. There can be a lot of work and taking on an additional responsibility may mean that you find yourself with too many things to do and too little time to do that. Will you be able to get help if that happens? It’s important not to take on too much, because you may find yourself not able to do a good job on anything, least of all the eulogy. By sharing the burdens, you can give the eulogy the attention it deserves and ensure that you deliver your best for the person you’re honouring.
3. What theme or themes will you use?
The life of the departed person may have lasted eighty or even a hundred years. How can you sum up all of that in the few minutes of a euology? You can’t, so it’s good to choose one or more aspects of their life as a theme for the eulogy. What was most important to the departed person during their life? Was it their military service or the company they founded? Were they passionate about a hobby or a sport? Did they live for their family or work tirelessly for charity? You don’t have to make the choice on your own: everyone will have an opinion and the departed person may even have left notes or other forms of guidance.
4. Can you find the time and space to plan and practise?
A eulogy is a public performance, but its success may depend on the work you do in private. Once you’ve chosen the theme, you’re ready to start planning the for your eulogy. Jot down some ideas, think them over and discuss them with other relatives and friends of the departed. Then you can write a first draft of the eulogy. You’ll almost inevitably want to make changes, but a first draft allows you to begin practising the eulogy. You might want to read it alone in front of a mirror at first, then practise it before a small audience of those who knew the departed. This will be a good test of something that may prove very important: your own emotions. A eulogy isn’t like an ordinary speech: it will be talking about someone who mattered very much to you and whose earthly life is now over. You may feel overwhelmed or even too upset to continue. By practising carefully beforehand, you can be ready for those emotions. You might even decide that, while you’re able to write the eulogy, it might be better for someone else to deliver it.
5. Do you want to use humour?
Like the funeral as a whole, the eulogy doesn’t have to be completely sombre and serious. If the departed person liked a joke, then the eulogy should reflect that. They would want to be remembered with a smile, as someone who brought happiness and laughter into the world, and the eulogy can honour them for their lighter side. But it’s important to judge your audience and strike a balance. Some of those attending the funeral might not be ready for humour or find it inappropriate while they are still in mourning.
6. Have you got your facts right?
You’ll only have one chance to deliver the eulogy, so you’ll only have one chance to get it right. After a long life, there may be a lot of details to check and a lot of questions to ask. You might be telling stories or discussing achievements from many years in the past, and you might have no personal knowledge of what happened. This is another time to ask questions and make sure that you’re getting the facts right. If there are disagreements, you’ll know what not to say; if you hear something new, you may be able to make the eulogy even better.
7. Do you want to use photographs, film or music?
In these hi-tech days, our daily lives are being recorded in ever more detail as photographs and video. It’s also ever easier to incorporate audio-visual aids into speeches and other forms of public presentation. Is this something you want to use in your eulogy? There might be photographs of the departed person landing a prize fish or celebrating the birth of a grandchild. They might even have prepared a small speech of their own for use during the eulogy. But the more things you include, the more chances there are for things to go wrong. You may decide that keeping things simple is best and that may be the best way of honouring the departed person. Not everyone likes technology and people who were born before the internet age may prefer the old ways of doing things.
8. Do you want to provide copies of the eulogy?
Another aspect of advancing technology is the ease with which we can design and print our own material. If you type the eulogy on a computer, the text will be ready for you to print as many copies as you please. You could even design it as a booklet with accompanying photographs and hand copies out to the audience before or after the eulogy, so that they can follow it as you speak or take away a permanent memorial of the departed person. On the other hand, you may prefer to write the eulogy by hand. That way you can easily add notes and reminders, and a handwritten eulogy may be what the departed peson would have preferred. But even in that case it’s to make a recording of the eulogy, either when you’re practising it or when you actually deliver it at the funeral service. You might want to provide copies of the recording to the audience or make it available on a memorial website for the departed.
9. Do you want to share the task of delivering the eulogy?
At some funerals there will be a single person delivering the eulogy. At other funerals, there may be several. The choices will depend on how much time there is and how much work people are able to do. Perhaps a series of speakers will stand before the audience, or perhaps they’ll simply rise in their seats to deliver a few words during the course of a main eulogy delivered by someone else. There are no strict rules, but the more complicated you make things, the more chance there is that something may go wrong. If it’s your first eulogy, or even your first funeral, keeping it simple may be the wisest choice.
10. Finally, will you have back-up if you’re unable to continue?
No matter how much you practice and how good your eulogy is, when the time comes to deliver it you may find that your emotions become overwhelming. A eulogy is not an ordinary speech: you’re talking about someone you loved and respected before an audience who feel exactly the same way. They won’t expect you to be calm and collected – a polished eulogy may be a contradiction in terms. But what if you find yourself unable to continue? It might be only for a few seconds or stop you speaking altogether That’s why it’s wise to have help on hand. Someone can bring you a glass of water or be ready to take over the eulogy. Just knowing that they’re there can be a big help and as with so many other things in life, forewarned is forearmed.
Funeral Plans in Cheshire

Personalising your funeral

Funeral ideas: how to celebrate your life

Seeing as it is our final act on earth, wanting to have a say in your send-off is getting very common nowadays, with 42% of people surveyed in 2016 by funeral directors CPJ Field saying they wish to plan their own funeral.

5 ideas you can use to personalise your funeral
  1. The service: do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want a religious, civil or humanist service? A sustainable coffin? It can be at a venue of your choice or even in your home, rather than a place of worship or burial.
  2. Decoration: You don’t just have to decorate with flowers. Many other items could be displayed that show what you loved and who you were, such as flags, football shirts, records, books and of course photographs.
  3. What to wear: Should everyone traditionally wear black? Or wear a different colour of your choosing? This can be specified by you.
  4. Have family meaningfully involved: Giving out roles to family and friends in advance can make the funeral more meaningful – you could ask someone to give a speech or perform.
  5. Write the eulogy yourself: This could be a goodbye note, a message to your loved ones showing off all that they loved about you. It gives you one last chance to say thank you to all the people important to you.
Music at your funeral

One strong way of personalising your funeral is with your own choice of music – it could be music played or sung live at your funeral ceremony, and the music played as you take your final bow.

Keep in mind the idea that life is to be celebrated – good song choices are ones that are related well to you and will make mourners smile. For example, instead of the popular choices like My Way or Time to Say Goodbye, why not go for Always Look on the Bright Side of Life?

Letting your loved ones know your funeral wishes

Write down your funeral wishes and make sure your loved ones know where they can find your plans.

Planning ahead your funeral costs

With an 8.3% increase on last year, funerals now cost roughly £8,802 if you include professional services, floral tributes, food and so on. Getting a pre-paid funeral plan well organised in advance will make it a bit easier for your loved ones when the time comes.

U-PLAN will never charge you any fees for funeral plans. Only once you are happy and have signed up to a plan, we are paid a single arrangement fee for our services direct from the provider. We offer all of our clients a free face to face consultation with additional help and support via telephone, email and post.

Get in touch with us if you would like to find out more.