Paying for a funeral Using a pre-paid funeral plan

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Funeral plans will cover some of the basic costs but you may need to pay for extra items

We explain how to arrange a funeral using a funeral plan, plus what costs the plans do and don't cover.

A pre-paid funeral plan is a type of insurance that lets people organise and pay for their own funerals up front.

If you are organising a funeral for someone who took out a funeral plan during their lifetime, you should be able to use this to cover the funeral costs, although in some cases there may be more to pay.   

  • If you have financial queries following the death of a loved one, you may find it helpful to talk to one of the experts at the Which? Money Helpline

Contacting the funeral plan provider

Funeral plans are provided by specialist firms such as Dignity, Golden Charter, Golden Leaves, The Co-operative Funeralcare, and local funeral directors.

The funeral plan provider should have given the deceased a contact telephone number to forward to their heirs or executors. If you've been given details in advance, you simply get in touch to activate the plan.

If you think the deceased may have had a funeral plan arranged but you don't have any details, you'll need to search their papers for a policy reference number or funeral plan document.

What funeral costs are covered by a funeral plan?

Before you claim on a funeral plan, it’s important to check which funeral costs are included. 

All the policies in our funeral plan costs guide guarantee to cover funeral directors’ own fees so, no matter how much these costs have increased between the time the plan was taken out and the funeral, they should be covered in full.

However, a simple pre-paid funeral plan may not include a church service, limousine or use of the chapel of rest. It may also specify a limit on the distance the funeral director will travel to collect the deceased.

Even expensive funeral plans can leave out important things that you might want to include, such as a church service. None of the most common plans include a burial plot, which can cost an extra £725 on average.

If the funeral plan doesn't cover everything that you'd like to include as part of the funeral, you can arrange and pay for additional elements separately. The additional costs can be paid for by the estate of the deceased person.

Find out more: we explain the average cost of a funeral and what it includes

Funeral disbursements (third-party costs)

Third-party costs (often called disbursements) such as the doctor, church, minister, burial and burial plot don’t tend to be included in funeral plans but when they are, the amount covered varies considerably between providers. 

Cremation fees tend to be cheaper than burial fees, so funeral plan providers will sometimes fully guarantee these. Some providers guarantee the price of cremation but only pay a contribution towards burial costs, while others guarantee to cover all costs agreed in their pre-paid plans whether for a burial or a cremation.

Even in these cases, the cost of a burial plot is not included.

Over-50s plans

A common alternative to a funeral plan is an over 50s life plan, which pays out a lump sum on death. This can be used to cover the cost of a funeral, but is not guaranteed to meet the full cost.

The money from an over-50s plan is normally paid to a named beneficiary, who then arranges and pays for the funeral. Some providers will arrange to pay a funeral firm directly.   

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