Debt from cost of funerals leading to DIY burials
An MP made the startling statement earlier last month, that debt arising from the increasing cost of funerals, is leading to a number of families having to resort to DIY funerals.
Taking her information from a recently released report by Royal London, Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck revealed that as much as 20 percent of bereaved families could now be struggling to give their loved one the funeral they deserve.
Ms Lewell-Buck also said that some relatives are so desperate, they are holding DIY funerals, cremations without any formal service or opting for pauper's funerals. A number of those who are determined to find the cash are unfortunately turning to payday loan companies, who offer loans with extortionate interest rates – plunging applicants even further into debt from which many will inevitably struggle to recover.
The cost of a funeral now ranges from around £3,500 to £7000, depending on the geographical area of where the deceased will be laid to rest, and the family's requirements. To meet the demands of struggling families, a number of companies now offer cut price, basic services.
In response, the government reiterated that funeral payments are available to those who can prove that they are unable to afford the cost of a funeral. However, it has been reported that these payments are difficult to secure and at an average payment of £1,225, fall far short of the actual cost of a decent service.
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Space age funerals
The funeral industry looks set to change immeasurably over the next few years, with technological advancements and increasing personal demands.
I loved the idea of an app which has been created specifically to allow users to make their own "video will" which is security coded, so that only your nominated individual can view it in the event of your death and send it to anyone else who is mentioned as a beneficiary within the video. This is a much more loving and personal way of communicating with those left behind but it is unfortunately of little use at the moment, as this format is not considered legal, unlike a written will.
Perhaps your loved one would relish the thought of having an other-worldly experience after their death, by being jettisoned off into space? A US company called Celestis has been offering this service for some time, with prices ranging from £2,900 to £7,400. Plans are in the offing to introduce a new service, whereby the deceased can go further into space than ever before. Loved ones on earth will then be able to track where they are in space, via satellite feeds.
What are your thoughts about traditional funerals versus space age memorials? Will we continue to opt for burials and cremations or will we see a whole choice of options opening up for our late friends and relatives in the future?
Over half of adults have no funeral plan
Despite our recent post which revealed that funerals can lead to credit card debt, recent research has shown that over half of the adults in the UK have no funeral plan in place.
The research, carried out by Royal London, states that 59% of UK adults aged over 50 have no funeral plan to cover the cost of their funeral when the time comes, yet are not concerned about how their loved ones will find the money to pay.
Of course, it's easy to think along the lines of: "I don't care what happens to me after I'm gone". But when you consider that the average cost of a funeral now runs into thousands of pounds and that there may not be enough money in your estate to cover the fees, then you need to think about the stress and financial difficulty you could be inflicting upon the family or friends you love the most – hardly a great parting gift.
Around 64% of respondents did not in fact realise how much their funeral would cost, despite the many media reports about rising funeral expenses. Perhaps even more surprisingly, over a whopping third of those surveyed aged over 70, were not saving any money at all to pay for their funeral.
Do you think as adults, we have a right not to have to worry about finding money for other people in order to arrange a funeral? We say that we don't care about what happens to us after we're gone, but certainly, we wouldn't want to cause further grief and suffering to those we love. Given this information, are you intending to look at ways to support your loved ones financially after your death?
Irish funerals to be streamed to mourners
With the news that a businessman plans to offer streamed Irish funerals to mourners, a whole can of worms is presented, ready to be opened.
By their very nature, funerals are usually solemn, formal and respectful affairs. Close relatives and friends may be grief-stricken but are comforted with the knowledge that they are surrounded only by other loving friends and family of the deceased. It’s often a very private time.
So I suspect that many people will be horrified at the thought of such an emotional event being broadcast over the internet to any number of relevant individuals, based right across the globe.
But looking at the issue from a different perspective, it may well be that the gentleman is actually meeting a need which has until now, been unfulfilled.
The examples he gives are of friends or relatives who for one reason or another, may not be able to attend the funeral. They may live on the opposite side of the world, are unable to find childcare or be physically unable to attend due to disability. Perhaps it is these people who will find comfort in some small way, and feel that they have managed to pay their respects to their loved one, through viewing the funeral online.
The Irish businessman, Alan Foudy, says he came up with the idea of live streaming, after being asked to tape a funeral onto DVD – which obviously has its own limitations. Those requesting to view the clip will be charged a small fee, with the stream password protected to ensure privacy.
At the moment, the streaming service, called Funerals Live, is being targeted specifically at Irish emigrants who are unable to return back to Ireland for funerals. Feeds are currently available for funeral and graveyard services, with the permission of the deceased’s family and parish priest.
What’s your opinion of streaming funeral services to loved ones? Is it a constructive, comforting use of modern technology or a disrespectful invasion of privacy?
What is a humanist funeral?
Millions of us saw the show's Haley Cropper laid to rest a few weeks ago, after having asked her on-screen husband Roy, specifically for this type of funeral.
Essentially, the ceremony is performed without any reference to a religion of any sort by representatives from the British Humanist Association. Hymns and prayers are not used, although the deceased's favourite song may be played, or a chosen poem or passage read out.
In a recent article in a north west newspaper, it was reported that around 300 funerals had been held over eight years, spanning just a small geographical area, indicating how popular these types of funerals are becoming.
For more information, contact the British Humanist Association – and ensure that your last wishes for a humanist funeral are detailed in your will. Your executors are under no legal obligation to carry these particular wishes out, but if they are made very aware of how strongly you feel, then they are more likely to carry out your instructions to the letter.
A recent investigation by the Manchester Evening News has revealed that hundreds of people are given paupers funerals each year.
More specifically, within in one area, up to six babies are recorded as being buried in the same plot. Across the whole of Greater Manchester, over 1000 paupers funerals have been carried out over the last five years, equating to around 17 each month.
Paupers funerals are arranged when next of kin or loved ones are unable to afford to pay for standard funeral expenses, and the deceased has not left enough money to cover fees. They are also be organised if no surviving relatives can be traced.
Happily, some people have been so well thought of during their lifetime that colleagues, friends and acquaintances have clubbed together to pay for a regular funeral, costing thousands of pounds. Some charities too, focus their efforts towards fundraising, to ensure that their supporters are given a good send off.
Funeral and related charges continue to rise, with a basic funeral now costing over £3000 in most instances. With limited funeral payments from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) meaning that only around 66% of applications are successful, many of us are dreading the cost of meeting these financial demands in the future.
Funeral directors believe that increased funding from DWP would mean that individuals would no longer need to be buried in communal graves.
I watched an interesting item the other day, featured on the Daybreak programme, which discussed how many people felt the charges for organising a funeral were excessive and how some companies in the industry were taking advantage of these people at a vulnerable time.
The feature went on to talk about how although on average, funerals tend to cost around anywhere up to £7000, there are ways to reduce this cost considerably, if you’re prepared to plan most of it yourself.
It may surprise you to know that hiring a funeral director to arrange everything is not a requirement, although at such a difficult time, most of us choose to hand over the funeral planning details to someone with experience.
We all have differing views on burial and cremation which may not even necessarily depend on our religion. It’s worth having the conversation now with your spouse, siblings and parents, to see whether they have any strong views, one way or the other. What should be bourne in mind is that a burial can cost substantially more than a cremation.
Whilst you’re having that conversation, why not also find out if they have any preferences with regards to a coffin? If they want to be cremated when the time comes, then buying an expensive coffin may not be a sensible choice if the budget is tight. Costs can vary widely, depending on choice of wood and accessories. If your loved one cares about the environment, they may even opt for a bio-degradable coffin, rather than an expensive wooden one.
Items such as flowers and stationery can also be bought quite reasonably, if you take the time to shop around.
Although it’s traditional to hold a reception of some kind after the funeral, so that friends and family can socialise, share their memories and pay their respects; remember that this doesn’t have to be held in a pub or other venue. Why not hold it in the deceased’s home or your home instead and ask close relatives to help out with the catering? In many cases, they’ll be glad that they can play an active part and it will give them something else on which to focus.
Finally, the last thing you want is to cause your family financial hardship and additional stress, to add to their grief when you’re gone. Why not do one last thing for them and plan in advance by paying small amounts into a funeral plan, so they don’t have to worry so much about budgeting for your funeral? For help with funeral planning please call us