The true cost of not having a Lasting Power Of Attorney in place.

Contrary to popular belief, no individual has an automatic right to manage someone else’s finances, even if they are related to them, or are their spouse or civil partner.

So, what happens when you can’t manage your financial affairs due to ill health and nothing has been put in place? The truth is it’s an expensive, lengthy and time-consuming problem to resolve.

For many individuals, Wills and LPA’s ( lasting power of attorney ) along with many financial products, sit in the category of ‘I will do it tomorrow’ and often it takes a professional adviser to give the person the nudge required for them to take the necessary action.

 

State of health

Many health conditions prevent people from being able to manage their finances. The two most common are dementia and stroke, and the numbers are quite stark. Some 2% of people aged 65 to 69 have dementia, by age 85 to 89 it’s 20%. And, there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK every year.

A sensible approach should be that when any individual puts in place a financial product for themselves, they should also explore what would happen if they were unable to deal with their financial affairs themselves.

This is because if you are no longer able to manage your finances due to health reasons, no one else can do it for you without legal authority. This is also true if you have joint bank accounts.

Most people assume that if their partner suffered a stroke or developed dementia then they could carry on operating the account and would have access to things like their pension income which may go through that account.

However, guidance from the British Bankers’ Association means that banks will often freeze joint accounts if one of the account holders is mentally incapable unless a lasting power of attorney is in place or a Court of Protection order has been obtained. The reason given by the banks is that joint accounts can only operate if there is continuing agreement of both parties – plainly this can’t happen if one party is not capable of agreement.

 

The Court of Protection

So, without a lasting power of attorney the first thing that must happen is someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a ‘property and financial affairs deputy order’. This allows a deputy or preferably deputies to deal with your finances.

It is advisable for more than one person to apply, because if only one deputy is appointed, and they couldn’t act for any reason (for example, being on holiday, becoming bankrupt or death), then you would be back to square one.

Appointments are usually made ‘jointly and severally’, which means that any one deputy is able to act independently at any time.

The Court of Protection prefers family and friends to be deputies, however, if there are family disagreements or if your assets are complex, it may be best to appoint a solicitor or legal professional.

While the court forms are available on Gov.uk many people do ask solicitors or legal professionals for assistance as the process is complex. The court require information regarding your assets, income and liabilities, a medical certificate and a declaration by each deputy to confirm they are suitable and will undertake their duties properly. It’s worth noting that many NHS doctors will not complete the medical certificate, and those who do may charge up to £300.

Typically, it takes about a month to obtain the information and complete the forms.

 

Typical costs.

Some £400 is payable to the court, and it takes a further month for the court to issue the formal application. Your proposed deputies need to notify various family members, including yourself, even though you may not understand. This gives everyone a chance to object to the appointment of a deputy. You plainly have no control over who might do so.

Assuming no objection, the court requires an insurance bond which pays out should a deputy illegally take your money. For £300,000 cover the annual premium is about £225. With the bond in place the court issues the property and financial affairs deputy order along with guidance for the deputies.

A separate bank account needs setting up to manage your financial affairs. And your deputies will send the order to all the institutions that you have dealings with.

The Office of the Public Guardian will charge a fee of £100 to consider what supervision level the new deputies should be allocated to. There is also an annual supervision fee of £320 year for assets of over £21,000 and £35 if less.

This whole process takes about six months and is considerably more expensive than having a lasting power of attorney in place before a need arises as the typical example in the table below shows.

The table also shows an indicative cost for a single individual, based on one year and five years, being an indicative life expectancy. It assumes legal advice is taken for both matters. It also assumes no on going legal support.

 

Financial Lasting Power of Attorney Fees Attorney via Court of Protection Fees
Year 1 Year 1
Solicitor (inc VAT) £780 Solicitor (inc VAT) £2,100
Court Application £82 Court Application £400
Medical Certificate £300
Supervision level £320
Insurance Bond £225
Year 1 total £864 £3,345
Subsequent years £0 Annual Supervision Level £320
Annual Insurance Bond £225
5 year total £864 £5,525

 

 To talk to us about setting up your own LPA, please contact us here.

 

Planning ahead – Health & Welfare.

Around one third of people in the UK have made no provision for old age, whether through a pension, writing a will, saving for retirement, making funeral plans or creating a lasting power of attorney, according to new research.

By 2025, more than 13 million people who are at risk of mental incapacity will be unprepared, with no legal or medical plans in place for their future care.

The taboo remains –talking about death and end of life is putting individuals and their families at great risk of a whole range of problems in the future.

It is true that more and more of us are putting wills in place and establishing plans for finances and assets, however far too few of us are planning ahead for our health and care needs and wishes, leaving this to chance.

Planning ahead by talking to family or friends shouldn’t be seen as doom and gloom, it’s about having a positive conversation about welfare, empowering your loved ones and making the decision-making process easier for everyone.

 

Planning ahead

Dementia is the biggest single cause of death in England and Wales and the number given a diagnosis of the condition has risen by 54 per cent in ten years. While three quarters of the population fear dementia or the loss of capacity to make decisions, 97 per cent have not made relevant legal provision.

Planning ahead is surrounded by worrying misconceptions. Some 65 per cent of people incorrectly believe they can leave decisions to their next of kin, without making the decisive legal steps to ensure that happens.

There are currently 928,000 health and welfare lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) across England and Wales, compared to the 12 million people over the age of 65 who run the risk of developing dementia – a difference of nearly 93 per cent.

This disparity will continue, leaving millions in limbo. By 2025, it’s estimated that more than 15 million people will be at risk of mental incapacity and only an estimated two million health and welfare LPAs will be in place.

Jeremy Hughes, the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, recently commented on this issue: “Lasting powers of attorney for health and welfare too often get overlooked. People with dementia have the right to make choices about their care, just like anyone else. Making someone they trust their attorney for health and welfare is one of the ways people can do this ”

“A health and welfare LPA provides reassurance to them and the act of creating one can start useful conversations about the future with family and friends.”

Contact us here to find out how we can help you with a Health & Welfare LPA

 

 

Why a professionally written Will is so important

Everybody knows the importance of having a Will, as this is something that is often highlighted to us, but what isn’t often mentioned is the importance of making sure that Will is properly written and therefore legally binding.

Yet, a Will written incorrectly, or not properly witnessed, could be equal to not having written a Will at all, leaving your loved ones with a legacy of taxes, paperwork and legal bills.

So, what constitutes an incorrectly written Will? There are various details that could invalidate a Will or cause undue additional problems; from something as simple as spelling someone’s name incorrectly and not using their legal name, to a Will whereby the specific wording fails to meet requirements. Whilst you would assume that if you went to a high street solicitor or even purchased a Will writing kit online the wording would be correct, you could be wrong.

“I only have a small inheritance to leave, so will be fine to do my own DIY Will” – often people think this is the case, until they speak to a professional and discover important truths, that there are more complexities and aspects to their estate than they first thought. Not only is there the issue of what you own and choose to leave to your loved ones, but how do you factor in if someone in your Will dies, divorces, re-marries, has more children, step-children…the list goes on.

Re-marriage is just one example of where things can get complicated – if you leave everything to your spouse and their Will states that they then pass everything on to your/their children equally after their death, you might assume that would mean that your spouse and children are looked after? This assumption is where problems can and do exist within inadequately written Wills.

Take this example:

Jennifer’s father dies, after he dies his estate is passed to his wife Barbara (Jennifer’s stepmother), Barbara had written a mirror Will of her husband’s stating that the estate would be passed equally between Jennifer and her own son. However, after the death of Jennifer’s father Barbara remarried, changed her Will and left everything to her son and new step children and nothing to Jennifer. This is perfectly legal, but morally was it the right thing to do and would Jennifer’s father have approved?

By using a legal professional that isn’t necessarily an expert in the field of Will writing, or using a DIY Will Writing Kit, you run the risk of having an invalidated Will, and not just this, even if your Will is perfectly valid, it does not mean you have received the best advice and strategy possible regarding your desired outcomes for you and your loved ones in the future.

 Contact us here and find out how we can help with your Will. 

 

Your Business and the Protection of a LPA ( Lasting Power Of Attorney)

Business continuity is one of the key elements in business planning. As a business owner the main objective is to ensure the efficient running of the business in the event of any disruption which could happen if you were unable to make decisions. This may be if:

  • You were to have an accident
  • You have a medical condition that incapacitated you
  • You were abroad on holiday or business

 

What would you do if you couldn’t make the day to day decisions?

An alarming fact that very few business owners realise, is that once they are unable to manage their own day to day business affairs, there is no one else ( not even your closest family member) that is automatically given the power or legal authority to deal with these business affairs on your behalf. Access and operation of the financial affairs of the business including using the bank accounts is not permissible. Without a Business LPA in place it is possible that:

  • Bank accounts would be frozen particularly those with overdraft facilities
  • Uncompleted transactions would not be finalised
  • Contracts become voidable
  • Stock could not be purchased
  • Employees salaries are not paid
  • Creditors do not get paid
  • Loans default
  • Rent or mortgages go into arrears

Without a Business LPA in place an application would have to be made to the court of protection to appoint someone to run the business, a process that usually takes months and costs thousands of pounds. The business may be irreparably damaged due its financial and operational failings by the time this decision is made. The court makes the decision on who should be appointed to run the business, not the business owner. This may result in a individual being appointed who the business owner does not approve of or prefer.

 

A Business Lasting Power of Attorney

Having someone that has the legal authority to deal with these matters can be essential to the health and survival of the business without any delays. By putting a Business LPA in place you appoint an individual (Attorney) you trust to deal with your affairs whenever you need them to act on your behalf. It makes sense to appoint someone who is familiar with the business, this could be a business associate or partner or may even be a family member who understands the business.

You can choose how many Attorneys you would like to appoint and it is possible to appoint just one Attorney. However, if this Attorney dies or becomes mentally incapable or even bankrupt, then the power ends and you would need to make a new document again provided you are able to do so. It is always advisable to appoint a replacement Attorney in the event that the first and only Attorney is unable to act.

Alternatively, you can appoint two or more Attorneys and you may choose on how they act on your behalf:

  • Jointly – this means they will always act together. This ensures that your Attorneys will have to agree on everything and act together at all times. If one of them is unable to act or dies, then the power ends because the other Attorney cannot act alone.
  • Jointly & Severally – this means that your Attorneys can act together but can also act independently of each other if necessary. This type of appointment is more flexible because if one Attorneys is unable to act, the other has a right to act on their own.
  • Jointly in some matters & jointly and severally in other matters. This means you can specify when your Attorneys should act jointly and when they should act jointly and severally. Again, the power would be limited as some matters could only be dealt with jointly, as mentioned above.

 

When can an Attorney act?

A Business LPA can be used as soon as it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, regardless of your mental capacity, provided there are no restrictions.

Whilst you are still mentally capable, you make decisions regarding your business affairs yourself. Your appointed Attorney will carry out your wishes if you can not carry them out yourself or if you instruct them to deal with some matters on your behalf, provided you have not restricted the power to be valid only if you lose mental capacity.

If you have lost the capacity to make the decisions yourself, your appointed Attorney will make and carry out the decisions on your behalf. As long as you are still able to make decisions on your own behalf, you can revoke a Business LPA at any time and you do not need to give a reason.

 

What type of business benefits from a Business LPA?

Sole Traders, Partnerships and Limited Companies all benefit from a Business LPA, however ownership structures differ from within these different business types and from business to business. With this is mind, our small business service offers a free initial consultation with you to ensure we clearly understand you, your business and your continuity plans. A Business LPA is also a tax allowable expense, so it would make sense to contact us and explore how we can help safeguard your business today.

 

BUSINESS OWNERS can contact us here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joint Bank Accounts and Lasting Powers of Attorney

There has been lots of debate recently about whether or not a Power of Attorney is relevant where clients own joint bank accounts. There is a general misconception that when one party loses capacity the party who still has capacity can still access the funds.

THIS IS INCORRECT.

The British Bankers’ Association guidance states that when dealing with a joint bank account where one party has lost capacity the bank can decide whether to temporarily restrict the account, unless/until there is Power of Attorney or deputyship in place.

Individual institutions COULD freeze an account which would be inconvenient to say the least.

WHY RISK THE POSSIBILITY?

U-PLAN’s advice (and that of the British Bankers’ Association) has always been to establlish a Power of Attorney before clients lose capacity so they are never put in a position where they cannot access their funds.

See below link to the BBA’s guidance leaflet. Please see page 9 under the heading “Dealing with a joint bank account”.

Link to the British Banker’s Association guidance

 

Get in touch with us  for more help and information.

Wills – Deeds of Variation and the RNRB ( Residential Nil Rate Band)

A Will is arguably the most important document you will ever make. Sitting down with your trusted advisor, talking through your options and finally executing the document can provide you with the peace of mind in knowing that if anything should happen, your wishes will be carried out.

After signing their Will, the vast majority of people will store their documents in a safe place, confident that no matter what happens, they have a Will that does exactly what they want to do. But what if things change? What if the Law changes? What if your finances (and more importantly your wishes) change dramatically?

Signing a Will is a big step towards providing financial security for your family, however an outdated Will that hasn’t taken into account new legislation, exemptions and reliefs can actually leave your Beneficiaries with a significant headache. We therefore need to ask

Is there any way of rectifying the problem of an outdated Will after someone has passed away?

Deeds of Variation are very powerful documents. They provide the beneficiaries of your Will with the ability to “change” the distribution of an estate to accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased and ensure that there will not be any negative Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax implications of this “redistribution”. They also allow the beneficiaries to change the distribution of the estate to ensure that additional tax reliefs will apply in the event that the law has changed since the Will (and any Trusts that the estate might be left to) was executed.

The introduction of the Residential Nil Rate Band (RNRB) in 2017 sent shockwaves through the world of Wills and Trusts. To qualify for this new tax allowance your Will needs to ensure that “lineal descendants” (commonly Children and Grand-Children) receive an interest in your home after your death. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those Wills made before 2015 are unlikely to satisfy the various requirements. By using a Deed of Variation, a family can ensure that, if necessary, the RNRB is obtained by “redistributing” a proportion of the estate to the “correct” person.

Ensuring that your Will is “up to date” is always best practice, regular reviews can identify any weaknesses in the planning that you have. However, should you lose the ability to amend your Will or simply forget to make the necessary changes before you pass away, all is not lost. With the consent of your Beneficiaries, amendments can be made post death to both your Wills and Trusts to ensure that your family are in the best possible position moving forward.

Get in touch with us  for more help and information.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 out of 10 adults do not have a Will

Thinking about a time when you are no longer around may feel uncomfortable, but failing to plan ahead can risk leaving a serious financial headache and expense for loved-ones who are left behind. New research shows that six in ten adults are taking this risk as they do not have a will. Many think a will is not necessary because they believe family and friends will choose who gets what of any assets – but this is not the case.

When someone dies without a will, rules of ‘intestacy’ kick in – and it falls to the state to determine how an individual’s worldly goods and assets are distributed. These decisions made may not reflect their individual wishes. Unmarried couples have no inheritance rights under this law while the complexity of modern families is not addressed, meaning children from previous marriages could miss out.

Such anomalies are currently under consideration in a review by the Law Commission aiming to structure the will-making process friendlier and more appropriate to modern family arrangements. This is no reason to put off writing a will, individuals and families need to understand the huge benefits of having a will and the even bigger risks of not having one.

Many individuals procrastinate and delay making a will because they believe they are too young or perhaps think they do not have the required financial assets. Other concerns are costs – or not knowing how to go about organising a will. Individuals could argue they do not need a will because they either have little money in the bank or believe death is far off in the future.

However, people need to think about who they want to inherit their belongings, such as their home, car, jewellery and in some instances – their pets. It is so important to put this down in writing, so family and friends can honour all these wishes. The lack of a will can and does, trigger bitter disputes after death and some loved ones can miss out entirely.

Dying without a valid Will can lead to confusion and uncertainty for the families left behind. To improve the chances of your wishes being carried out, it is crucial to put an effective will in place.

Writing a Will is the sort of issue you can keep putting off, but with the certainty that every life will end, it is important to have something in place just in case it happens unexpectedly and before an individual’s average life expectancy is reached.

People with straightforward financial affairs may be tempted to buy a DIY will kit, either off-the-shelf or online for a few pounds. But be wary of taking the DIY option without legal know how. There are numerous legal pitfalls to navigate – and there are risks of things going wrong.

Some of the most common problems with DIY wills include documents being written in ambiguous language; the will not dealing with all the assets and belongings in the estate; and paperwork not being signed correctly. In some instances, this can cause as many problems as having no will at all. If a will is open to misinterpretation, the courts may have to decide what the intentions were. This can prove an arduous – and potentially costly – process for families.

Once a will is written it should not be forgotten. It is worth revisiting the paperwork every few years or after key events – such as marriage, having children or following divorce. Most people might not be aware that divorce and marriage revoke any previous will.  Failure to understand this rule means that children of a first relationship, say, named in the original will, may get far less, or even nothing – to the benefit of a second spouse, which is probably not what the deceased intended.

With all the complexities of modern life and the interchangeable relationships over time between money, assets, family, loved ones and the uncertainty of health issues and accidents – it makes good sense to set up a Will sooner rather than later.

Get in touch with us to see how we can help you set up a Will.

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.