Advanced Funeral Directive

The funeral is our final opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one, an occasion for family and friends to come together to support one another and can be an important element of the grieving process. The funeral is also important as a reflection of the person who has died, and it may be important that the funeral is meaningful to them. This maybe better achieved through the completion of a funeral directive that has been considered in advance.

Funeral wishes drawn up in a Will are not legally binding after death. It is, therefore, sensible to identify who will give instructions for your funeral, so you feel confident that your wishes will be followed. If you have a partner to whom you are not married and they are not appointed your executor, consider their needs carefully. It is not unusual for parents to take control when an unmarried person dies, and the partner’s wishes can then be ignored.

It is also helpful, and often therapeutic, if your partner, family and friends can follow your wishes after death. Meeting your wishes is part of the grieving process for them, and forms part of their separation from your life. This is especially important if your death should come sudden and unexpected. It is also a process in which you can consider their needs and perhaps integrate them into the funeral in some way. Having his or her names mentioned at the service might help, or perhaps someone might like to be a bearer or read a eulogy at the service. Once these opportunities have passed, they can never be recovered.

Making arrangements in advance affords the ability to price the various options. The costs will arise in two areas. The first is “disbursements” – the sums you will pay to doctors (for cremation), the cemetery or crematorium and a minister. The second area is the “funeral” arrangements. If you are using an undertaker, these include the cost of collecting and handling the body, a coffin if used, visiting the person who has died, the hearse and cars, and indeed all other services. It is advisable to obtain some quotes as soon as you have decided what you require. In general, the more you use an undertaker or the more complex the funeral, the more expensive it will become. Conversely, “green” funerals tend to be less expensive.

If you are considering purchasing a pre-paid funeral plan note that companies selling funeral plans can go into liquidation, and it could prove difficult to reclaim any monies paid into a scheme.

Should you already have or are considering purchasing a funeral plan and later wish to surrender it, most often administration fees will be charged. To my knowledge these can range between £95.00—£150.00. This depends on which company underwrites your policy. Please check terms and conditions of the policy. It may prove useful to discuss funeral plans with the Funeral Planning Authority.

I have included some ideas for a Funeral Directive Template that can be downloaded, and it can be amended where necessary. If making a directive for yourself, it might be wise to keep these documents somewhere known to the person who you wish to arrange your funeral, as if kept with a Will the Will may not be read until after the funeral is over.