What are joint funeral plans?

Prepaid funeral plans have gained considerable popularity as funeral costs have rocketed year on year. At a time when the cost of the average funeral in the UK has risen as much as 70% in the past decade – a rate far greater than increases in wages or the overall rate of inflation for other goods and services – the ability to pay those expenses at today’s prices, rather than at the time you die, is clearly appealing.

If a prepaid funeral plan makes good sense for you, therefore, a plan which covers both you and your spouse or partner is likely to make double good sense – that is the basis for a joint funeral plan.

Joint funeral plans in a nutshell

A joint funeral plan is made in the name of two people, rather than one, and covers the funeral costs of the first of the couple to die. The same level of funeral service is guaranteed for both of the signatories to the plan.

When you die, therefore, you may take comfort from the fact that your surviving loved one is saved the anguish of decisions about the type of funeral to arrange and – just as importantly – how it is going to be paid for.

As a joint funeral plan will only provide for one funeral, the second person to pass away will not have any protection so should consider how their funeral will be paid for, perhaps from their estate or life insurance.

How it works

Just as with a single person’s funeral plan, you sit down with your spouse or partner and decide the nature and level of service you want when one of you dies.

Payment may be made in one single payment, although most providers also offer instalment plans – spreading the cost over one, two, or as many as 15 years – guaranteeing the key expenses of the funeral at today’s prices, even though the event may not take place until many years after.

The expenses guaranteed may vary from one plan to another but typically cover the costs normally associated with the services provided by your local firm of funeral directors – the care of the body, transport to and from the funeral home, attendance at the funeral ceremony, the provision of a hearse and the coffin.

Some prepaid funeral plan providers cover additional expenses – such as cremation fees or the cost of a headstone – whilst others also offer a fixed contribution towards burial fees.

Safeguarding your prepayment

Just as with other funeral plans, prepaid joint funeral plans provided by registered members of the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) safeguard the money you have paid by placing it in a separate, independent trust fund or the purchase of a whole of life insurance policy which pays out on the death of the first of the two named individuals.

Cancellation

You may need to be aware that if your circumstances change – if you and your spouse or partner separate or divorce, for example – you may want to cancel the joint funeral plan arrangements.

In those circumstances, cancellation charges are likely to apply and are deducted from any refund, before either or both of the original signatories arrange separate, new funeral plans for themselves.