Funeral Planning: The Complete Guide

If you have ever planned a funeral for a loved one or family member you will know how stressful it can be if there are no plans in place. Funeral planning can not only alleviate your family from the emotional burden at an already difficult time, but can also ensure that you lock down the cost of the services included in your plan at today’s price. However, planning your own funeral or the funeral of a loved one can seem like a difficult subject to approach, so we have put together a helpful guide which details every step of the process.

funeral planning

This guide contains a number of different subjects:

Funeral Planning

Why is it important?

Funeral planning eliminates any confusion concerning your funeral wishes, so that when the time comes your funeral will be exactly how you would have wanted, relieving your loved ones of the stress of organising a funeral at a time when they should be grieving. Financially, planning your funeral in advance could also save you and your family a lot of money, as the cost of a basic funeral has increased over the past decade and is forecast to increase at the same rate.

Importance of discussing Funeral Wishes

Recording your personal wishes is the best way to ensure that your funeral will be a personal reflection of you and your life. Once you have purchased a Capital Life funeral plan you will receive a funeral wishes document in your welcome pack which allows you to record your more personal requirements that don’t form part of your pre-paid Funeral Plan. This document should then be discussed and shared to your chosen next of kin so that when the time comes, your loved ones are clear on your wishes.

How to start a discussion with loved ones

Starting a discussion with friends and family can help to ensure that you get the funeral that you want when the time comes. However, knowing how and when to start the discussion can be difficult, as death can be a taboo subject. There may never seem to be a right time to bring up the topic of your funeral but if your family is able to have an open discussion about death then broach the subject whenever it feels appropriate to do so. However, if this may be a sensitive subject for your loved ones, then it may seem more natural to bring up the topic whilst referring to a public figure or distant relative and then ask ‘have you ever thought about your own funeral plans?’. 

Possible questions to ask are if you would like to be buried or cremated, what type of service would you like, if any, and who would you want to be there. It is also important to ensure that you document the more personal requirements that you may have such as choice of songs or hymns, would you want people to wear specific attire and who would you want to do a reading.

Planning vs At Need

What is a Funeral Plan?

A Funeral Plan is a way to plan and pay for your funeral in advance, either in monthly payments or a lump sum, to make things easier for your loved ones when the time comes.

How can pre-planning help at the time of need?

Funeral planning can not only alleviate your family from the emotional burden at an already difficult time, but can also ensure that you lock down the cost of the services included in your plan at today’s price.

What happens when someone passes away?

Registering a death

In the UK it is a criminal offence to not register a death as it acts as a formal record of the death. The death certificate is needed before any funeral can take place, this could be delayed if a coroner inquest is necessary. The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages will register the death and it will need to be done in the district that the person lived or if it is different the district in which they died. Personal details will be needed of the deceased including information about their pension, any partners living or dead and their job. Only certain people can register the death

  • A relative or anyone else present at the death 
  • The person arranging the funeral but not the Funeral Director
  • A relative present during the person’s last illness or living in the district where the death took place.
  • An owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of the death

Organising the estate

An estate can include property, savings (cash and in a bank account), money owed to the deceased and personal belongings such as jewellery and cars. After death, the money that will come from the estate can be used to cover the cost of a funeral and any remaining will be split as laid out in the will. There is a lot to organise when someone passes away and at an already stressful and difficult time it can see, like a momentous job to get everything sorted. The government site offers a lot of guidance on how to organise a person’s estate.

Repatriation – What if someone dies abroad?

If a loved one dies abroad it can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty, about what to do and how to organise bringing their body back home.  Whilst Capital Life’s funeral plans do not include a contribution towards a repatriation service as it is an additional service, if the plan holder passes away abroad we can offer advice and guidance on what you should do in that eventuality. The cost of a repatriation service varies depending on the country in which your loved one has passed away. In the event of this happening it is advised that you: 

  • Contact the UK Embassy, High Commissions or Consulate in the country in which your loved one has died to get the appropriate advice on what to do next
  • If they were abroad on a package holiday, it is appropriate to inform the representative of your travel provider 
  • A death certification in the country that your loved one had passed away will be needed in order to arrange the repatriation 

Funeral Director

What does a Funeral Director do?

A Funeral Director provides the funeral and is responsible for making all the necessary bookings. With a funeral plan, it is the Funeral Director’s duty to respect the wishes stated in the plan and ensure all the requests are carried out. 

Their role can include: 

  • Collecting the deceased and taking them into their care
  • Embalming and dressing the body
  • Help with arranging the ceremony or service
  • Providing coffin bearers or hearse if requested 
  • Dealing with any legal documents required for the service to take place 
  • Offering practical support for families

Choosing a Funeral Director

Capital Life works with a national network of local, trusted Funeral Director’s to ensure that we have nationwide coverage to whom we will allocate your plan. However, if you choose your own Funeral Director we cannot guarantee that they will be able fulfil the specified plan. Also, there may be additional costs for your loved ones.

Considerations when Planning a Funeral

There are many steps to planning a funeral and multiple questions will need to be answered to ensure that the funeral is a true reflection of you. Although it may seem difficult to consider discussing your funeral wishes, this is a conversation that you will only need to have once and then everything will be taken care of and personal wishes adhered to. Funeral planning is a way to remove the stress and financial burden from your loved ones at a stressful time for them.

Cremation or Burial?

Deciding on cremation or burial is imperative in order to plan your funeral. Not only can the cost vary but if you choose that you would like to be buried you will need to consider purchasing a burial plot, which can be expensive and difficult to obtain. Religion could also inform your decision as some religions such as Islam, do not allow cremation.

Type of Service

If you follow a religion this can be reflected in your funeral proceedings, for example it may be held in a place of worship and include readings from a minister. A humanist service is an option for those who would not consider themselves to be religious and therefore would like their funeral to reflect this, it is a funeral service with no reference to any religions. A celebration of life ceremony is usually held separately from a funeral and focuses on the positive aspects of a person’s life. Sometimes, people who decide to have a direct cremation will hold a celebration of life ceremony or memorial at a later date.

Personal Wishes

Any personal wishes or requirements for your funeral can be documented alongside your Funeral Plan. This could be choice of music, hymns, funeral car or a request for clothing attire. When you have taken out a Capital Life plan, you will receive a personal wishes document which you should complete and share with your next of kin so that when the time comes, Capital Life can organise your funeral and include your individual wishes.

Different Types of Funerals

The Sun Life Cost of Dying report (2021) has shown that people are moving away from the idea of having a traditional funeral service and there are many alternatives that are increasing in popularity. Some notable funeral trends are green burials, direct cremation, live streamed funerals and celebration of life ceremonies. An increase in these ceremonies would imply that people are adapting a more positive attitude towards death and funerals and would prefer to see one’s funeral as a celebration and positive reflection of their life.

It would seem that there are now less restrictions on how funerals can be carried out, people are requesting funerals to be held in unconventional locations such as a football stadium and wearing colourful clothes or adhering to a theme that was significant to the deceased.

What Happens at a Funeral

What happens at a funeral will depend on the type of service you attend, whether the funeral is cremation or burial and if the deceased had any personal wishes which would be prominent in the proceedings. A traditional funeral will follow the religion of the deceased and adhere to any personal wishes that they had.

Funeral Etiquette

Being invited to a funeral of a loved one or family member means that you are there because you were a significant part of the deceased’s life and you are there to offer support and pay your respects. However if you have never attended a funeral it could be overwhelming to know how to act appropriately, it is also important to prepare yourself for the emotions that the funeral could provoke.

What to wear to a Funeral

It can be difficult to know what is and is not appropriate to wear at a funeral. Funeral attire can vary depending on the country, culture or type of funeral service that you are attending. However what may seem as ‘traditional’ funeral attire could be falling out of favor, due to the increase in popularity of Celebration of Life ceremonies. Of course it is important to ensure that you check with the close family or friends of the deceased to ask if they have any special requests in terms of what attire should be worn. 

Ideas of what could be acceptable to wear at a traditional funeral in the UK: 

Women: 

  • Smart knee length dress
  • Smart trousers and modest blouse 
  • Low heels or pumps

Men:

  • Black suit, white shirt and black tie 
  • Smart, formal shoes 
  • Smart jumper and tailored trousers

Depending on the religion of the deceased and their family could mean that the dress code of the funeral will be different. At Sikh and Hindu funerals, guests are asked to dress in white as this is their colour of mourning. People attending a Buddhist funeral are advised to avoid red as it is the Buddhist colour for joy and whilst the family will wear white, other guests are asking to wear dark, conservative clothing. Most religions and culture agree that clothes must be smart and modest with dresses at a knee length, arms and chest covered. Celebration of life ceremonies are becoming more popular, which are a service with a positive feel that celebrate the life of the deceased.  and people documenting wishes of any alternative requests they may have in terms of wearing a certain colour clothing or attire that means something to them.

What is a Eulogy?

A eulogy is a speech typically written about a person who has recently died and their life, it can be difficult to know exactly what to say and express the emotions that you may be feeling.

Writing a Eulogy

There is no right or wrong when it comes to planning and writing a eulogy. It is important to write it in a way that you are comfortable, often the best eulogies are anecdotal and conversational. It can be a good idea to start by writing some of their defining traits, experiences or any memories and you can use these to form the basis of your eulogy. You may choose to structure your eulogy chronologically from start to finish or prioritise the moments that were more prominent to you or the deceased. Don’t forget to give people a reason to smile, and also focus on the positives of your loved ones life. 

What happens after a Funeral?

Usually after the funeral takes place the family will organise a wake or perhaps celebration of life ceremony, which is a chance for those who attended the funeral to meet and share memories and talk about the deceased in a more relaxed environment.

Ways to Remember a Loved One

After the funeral or if you were unable to attend the funeral of a loved one or family member, there are many ways that you can remember them and ensure that their legacy lives on. The decision of how you choose to remember them is completely personal to you, but here are some suggestions:

  • Writing a song or a poem can be a good way to express any emotions or feelings of sadness that you may have, this could help you to grieve by exploring how you feel  instead of suppressing it. 
  • Planting a tree could be a good idea to create a lasting memory of your loved one especially if they loved nature or a particular outside space, such as your garden or their favourite park. The tree will also grow over time and could be a memorial that will be there for hundreds of years and live through different generations. 
  • A bench or plaque in a significant location such as their favourite walking route, a beach or park can be a place for you to visit and spend time thinking about the memories that you shared there.

Scattering the Ashes

With cremations increasing in popularity, if  your loved one chose to be cremated it can be a nice idea to scatter their ashes in a place that was significant to them. This could be a sports stadium where their favourite team plays, in the garden or surrounding areas of their home, a favoured walking route or even a combination of different places.

Coping with Grief

After the funeral of a loved one, you may be feeling a wide breadth of emotions that can be hard to comprehend and deal with, this is completely normal. Whilst there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to coping with the loss of a loved one, it is important to remember that there is support available whether that is from your family and friends, counselling or a support group of other people sharing similar experiences. 

Funeral Costs and Payment Options

According to the Sunlife Cost of Dying Report 2021 the average cost of a basic funeral is now at £4184, which is projected to continue to increase after a significant rise in the last decade. A funeral plan is a great way to cover the cost of your funeral and locks down the cost of the Funeral Director’s services at today’s price.

What are the main costs involved?

Funeral Director’s fees

Funeral Directors are there to organise your funeral, be there to offer bereavement support and ensure that the funeral is delivered with respect and care. They are responsible for:

  • The care and preparation of the deceased prior to the cremation or burial
  • Collection and transport of the deceased to a suitable resting place
  • Advice and guidance on all aspects of the Funeral arrangements
  • Confidential advice concerning bereavement counselling

Disbursements

Disbursements are any third party costs involved with the funeral or the death such as coroners or doctors fees or death certificates. Depending on the plan that you take out, some include an allowance towards these costs. The cost of disbursements can vary widely between different crematoriums, burial sites, ministers and circumstances of death.

Personalised Funeral Wishes

Discretionary costs are dependent on your personal funeral wishes, everyone’s funeral plan will be different and individual to you so these costs will vary. Extras such as choice of flowers, venue, vehicles for the funeral guests are included in these discretionary costs. Even though some of these costs may not be covered by some funeral plans, it is optional to add an allowance which your loved ones can use towards the cost.

How do Funeral Costs vary?

The cost of a funeral is not a standard price for everybody. Prices can vary depending on the location of the funeral, the type of service or funeral that you decide to have and the rising costs of funerals. According to research by Beyond Watford is on average the most expensive place in the UK to die, followed by London. The cost of your funeral can also depend on the type of service that you would like, if you would want to be buried or cremated. Many people are opting for the choice of a direct cremation, which is a simple cremation with no service, as it is considerably cheaper. ‘Budget funerals’ are also increasing in popularity as people are finding ways to cut the cost of their funerals to save money.

Covering the Cost

A Funeral Plan is just one way to cover the cost and make financial provisions for your funeral. Some people opt to take out life insurance with the premise of it covering the cost of their funeral. However it has its setbacks as funeral costs will continue to rise meaning it will cost more in the future and sometimes the policy may not even pay out. Another option is that people leave the burden to their family, or want their estate or savings to cover the cost, but this could cause unnecessary stress at a difficult time for your loved ones. 

Is there any support available?

Capital Life believes that the best way to cover the cost of your funeral is by taking out a Funeral Plan and paying in advance. Other options could be life insurance or using money from the estate or savings, however this can sometimes be unreliable and difficult to work out how much you will receive. Although funeral planning can be the most effective, sometimes people will not have any plans put in place when they pass away and this can then move the financial and emotional burden to their loved ones. In the instance of not being able to afford to cover the cost of a funeral, there can at times be financial help known as pauper or public health funeral.

Funeral Plan Payment Options

In order to make a Funeral Plan affordable for you and your own budget there are a number of different payment options to choose from when taking out a plan with Capital Life. You can either pay in full when you take out the plan or choose to break it down into manageable and affordable monthly instalments over a set amount of years depending on your age.

What happens to the money paid into a Funeral Plan?

When taking out a funeral plan it is important to check that your money will be held securely so that in the event of a company going into liquidation, your money will be secure. When you take out a Capital Life funeral plan, your money is held in a secure trust fund which is separate from Capital Life and managed by HSBC. This ensures that your money will be safe and will be made available when the time comes.

Estate Planning

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document which states how you would like your assets to be distributed once you have died, this might include property, savings, personal possessions and heirlooms.

Importance of Writing a Will

A will is important as in the absence of one the law will share out your possessions in a standardised fashion, this means that people outside of your immediate family are unlikely to receive anything, including unmarried partners. Any requests that you have of passing ownership of possessions and heirlooms could be ignored. A will ensures that you have the final say on what happens after you die and that no difficult decisions are left to your loved ones, which could potentially cause arguments.

Capital Life’s Free Will Service

Capital Life understands the importance of having a will in order to make matters more simple for your loved ones when the time comes. This is why all of our funeral plans include a free will service.

Funeral Plan

A Funeral Plan is a great way to ensure that your estate is in order and everything will be taken care of for your loved ones when the time comes and forms an important stage in later life planning. A Will and a Funeral Plan means that your family will know your personal wishes in the time of need.

Prepaid Funeral Plans

Benefits of a Prepaid Funeral Plan

There are many benefits to taking out a funeral plan and your reasoning could vary depending on what you consider to be important for you and your loved ones: 

  • A funeral plan can lock in the cost of the services in your plan to protect you from the rising costs, the value of your plan will grow in line with inflation and you will only pay the price that your plan was when you took it out. 
  • You and your loved ones can achieve the peace of mind that at the time of need everything will be taken care of and matters will be easier for your loved ones. All that it takes is a phone call to your plan provider and they will take it from there 
  • A funeral plan can ensure that your wishes are documented and your funeral is carried out exactly how you wished. 
  • Paying for your funeral in advance allows you to break the cost down into affordable monthly payments, rather than having to find a large sum of money when the time comes.

Choosing a Funeral Plan

At Capital Life it is important to us that you choose a funeral plan that best reflects you and your needs, whilst being affordable to your budget. Our team of advisors will be happy to assist you in deciding which funeral plan is best for you.

In order to best advise which funeral plan is best for you, our team of helpful advisors will need to ask some questions regarding your wishes of how you would like your funeral to be, such as if you would like to be buried or cremated and if you would like a service or not. Although the questions may be difficult to answer, it is important that they are addressed so that you get the most suitable plan. 

At Capital Life we have six main plans that have been designed to suit those who wish for different types of funerals, ranging from the Simple plan, which is a no fuss cremation, to the Premium Majestic plan. With all of the plans, you are able to record your personal wishes, such as a choice of music, requests of hymns or type of attire.

Capital Life Funeral Plans

There are many reasons to choose Capital Life as your trusted Funeral Plan provider. Not only do we pride ourselves on our helpful customer service, but we also ensure that in the time of need your loved ones will be treated with care and supported at a difficult time.

  • We have a comprehensive range of plans to suit all budgets
  • Most of our plans include a generous allowance towards third party fees (Disbursements)
  • Your money will be held in a safe and secure trust 
  • We are clear and concise as to what is and what is not included in your plan 
  • You can tailor our plans to make them personal to you
  • We work with a network of local and trusted Funeral Directors
  • There is a guaranteed acceptance and no medical required