November, 2016

Will Your Funeral Thrust Your Family into Poverty?

Should you choose not to plan your funeral and pay for it in advance, you risk plunging your family into poverty after you have died. Your bank account or ISA investment is probably producing a return less than inflation, or 0% for many bank accounts. Transferring your money and paying for your funeral now, locks in the price today, for whenever your plan is used in the future. Surveys suggest that the average price of a funeral is around £4,000. When you add a few drinks and sandwiches and room hire after the burial or cremation, individuals are facing total funeral bills of around £8,000. When you have less than £100 in your bank account and know that your salary or pension will only clear your mortgage, food and utility bills each month, where are you likely to find several thousand pounds at short notice, without calling in your preferred loan shark? Funeral inflation moves annually between 7% and 10%, depending upon where you live or die, across the UK. As the cost of burial ground increases rapidly, purchasing a plot in advance may be a sensible decision. Cremations are also increasing annually as rules are tightened about the environmental outcome connected to the emissions from these establishments. Discussing Death and Debt Is Awkward, But for Who? When elderly relatives claim that they won’t be around for much longer, it is easier to avoid the conversation about their demise and their funeral wishes, than ask them how much money they have set aside for the grand event. We should be able to discuss these matters, however uncomfortable. Conversations deliberating death and choosing your favourite funeral music are often left to those who must make educated guesses after the guest of honour has passed away. A funeral director will expect their bill to be paid shortly after the funeral. For the funeral to have been given the go-ahead, a signed contract will have been agreed and completed, stating who is to pay for the funeral. Where the funds are not available, there are several options available: Is there enough money in the deceased’s bank accounts, investments or savings? Can family members contribute towards the total required? Have you a large enough limit on your credit card? What can be sold to raise the funds? Whatever final choices are made, the bill must be settled by the responsible individual. Will the...

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Do You Always Say Yes to A Funeral Invite?

When you’re invited to a funeral, is it bad form to immediately suggest that you will be hundreds of miles away on the day to avoid going? Conversely, should you say ‘yes’ to every funeral you are invited to? The answer may depend upon whether you are going to the funeral because you knew the individual or are attending because you want to show support to those left behind. Some people believe you should attend every funeral you are asked to and if this means missing work for a couple of hours or an entire day, then so be it. Is Your Decision Based Upon Age? Are you too young to be attending funerals of elderly relations? Some parents believe that children of all ages should attend a funeral as a mark of respect. Others believe young children and perhaps early teenagers should avoid funerals for as long as possible. Attendance may leave a lasting impression when they are too young to cope with the outpouring of grief and emotion. Others will suggest a funeral is a good life training and education skill. Not all funerals involve someone of your own age or much older. On occasions, it may be a younger person who has died. These are often the most difficult funerals to attend. Do You Need to Consider Your Responsibilities? Is this all about you and how you feel about funerals, as you may not wish to attend, but moral responsibilities remind you that you should? For some individuals, a funeral will be inconvenient to where you needed to be on the day and the appointments you should maybe consider cancelling. For the deceased, they almost certainly couldn’t time their death according to your calendar. Will you even be noticed if you do not attend the funeral, particularly when you were not particularly close to the individual being buried or cremated? Does this help sway your decision about whether to attend or not or are you more worried that you may be seen to miss the funeral and be talked about for years to come? There is, perhaps, no right or wrong answer to the questions posed. Perhaps the final decision may come down to how you feel about the person who has died. You will have to live with your decision, either to attend the funeral, or avoid it. You cannot undo not going to a...

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