Funeral planning: Why it’s important to plan ahead

No one likes to think about death, but having funeral plans in place can help your loved ones during a very difficult time. Find out your options and what works best for you.

We plan for important events, such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, so why not for an inevitable event in life, your funeral? Think about how your family will cope when you’re gone. Do they have enough money to pay for your funeral? Have you made your final wishes known to them? Do you have a Will?

Funeral costs have risen by 80% since 2004, a rate faster than inflation. Between 2012 and 2013 the average cost of a funeral in the UK increased by £172 to £3,456*, and this is before extra expenses, such as a memorial, flowers and catering. Find out how much the type of funeral you want could cost by using this handy Funeral Calculator from SunLife.

Paying for a funeral

There are several ways to fund a funeral, namely with the following:

  • Assets – Your assets are everything you own, from money and investments to valuable possessions and your home. When you die, these become part of your estate and may not be immediately accessible, which is why making a Will is important. A Will shows how your assets should be distributed, and helps loved ones manage your estate.
  • Savings – A savings account can be set up to cover funeral costs. You should research the cost of funerals regularly and review the amount you save and the interest you receive.
  • Pre-paid funeral plan – This option allows you to pay for a funeral at current prices, so you need not worry about rising costs in the future. You can also choose certain aspects of your funeral in advance. Make sure you shop around for the right funeral plan that best suits your needs. Does it cover burials as well cremations? What are the fees involved?
  • Life insurance – This is a popular choice for protecting your family by leaving them a lump sum when you die to help pay for the funeral. Life insurance policies are typically fully underwritten, which means that there is no guarantee that your application will be accepted.
  • Whole of Life Insurance – There are two main types of policy. With the first you need to provide full medical information to the insurance company so they can assess whether they can offer you cover and how much they will charge you for it. Once you are accepted, the policy will pay out a cash sum whenever you die. The second type is an Over 50s policy. With this type of policy the cash sum is paid out on death after an initial qualifying period of usually two years. However it is popular with older people as you are guaranteed to be accepted without having to answer any medical questions.

What could happen if I do nothing?

If you do not put plans in place, your loved ones will be responsible to foot the funeral bill. One of the things you need to think about is whether your loved ones could physically afford this, without getting into financial difficulty.

The Government Funeral Payment scheme does help families on a low income to pay for a funeral. However, research shows that 45% of applications in the 2011/12 tax year were rejected, whilst the successful 55% received an average payout of £1,241**, which was not enough to even cover basic funeral costs.

With the rising cost of funerals, it’s important that you plan ahead and weigh up your choices. For some, a savings account or funeral plan will offer the peace of mind they are looking for, whilst for others the best solution may be their assets or an over 50s life insurance.

SunLife offer Over 50s life insurance, term life insurance and Funeral Plans. For more information, visit

*Source: The information has been collated from the Sun Life Direct, Average Funeral Pricing and Cost of Dying Mintel research report June 2013

** Source: Annual report by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Social Fund 2011/2012

SunLife is a trading name of AXA Wealth Services Ltd which distributes financial products and services. AXA Wealth services Ltd is a company limited by shares and the registered office is at 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD (registered in England No 02238458). AXA Wealth services Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration No 465753)

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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fuelling fun for the young at heart!

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5th Dec 2015
Thanks for voting!
Sun Life's over 50s plan is very poor compared with alternatives. A specific insurance plan geared to the individual is a better option. We took out a plan with Scottish Widows for my father-in-law and this was very good.
Also some of the funeral plans do not include third party costs so are they still worth taking out?
Pamela Rogers
22nd Oct 2013
Thanks for voting!
I spend half the year in Australia with family, so I have a 50% chance of dying there! what would be the best course of action for me to take?

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