I would like to raise some concerns regarding the article ‘How to save money on a funeral – and still give them the send-off they deserve’ by Toby Walne in last week’s Financial Mail on Sunday (23rd November 2014).
The National Association of Funeral Directors, which represents more than 80% of the UK’s funeral directors, would have been keen to contribute to the piece.
Funeral directors work hard in difficult circumstances and are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to respond to the needs of distraught families and care for the deceased. It is unfair to suggest that funeral directors do not provide a funeral which is within the affordable means of those arranging a farewell to a loved one.
Costs have risen but, according to Sun Life who were quoted in the piece, the rise in funeral directors fees is modest (3.9%) compared to the rising cost of local authority burial or cremation plots and this – and lawyers’ fees for managing the estate. These are the real increases which are driving up the cost of a funeral. In the report it is noted a huge rise comes in estate administration costs (principally lawyers’ fees), which have soared by a staggering 39%.
Funeral directors do not try to sell someone a funeral they cannot afford because, if they do, they often end up swallowing the costs themselves. This is either because the family default on their bills or they are unsuccessful in securing the limited Government support available – something the National Association of Funeral Directors has been campaigning to improve upon for many years.
Options, such as a DIY funeral, are open to families but each year 470,000 people (the number of funerals that NAFD members have undertaken in the last twelve months) choose a qualified and experienced funeral director to take on that responsibility and arrange a funeral that is a fitting farewell to their loved one at a price they are comfortable with paying.