Helpful tips for organising a funeral
When my partner passed away in 2011 I decided to arrange the majority of the funeral myself. Making decisions during what was one of the most confusing times of my life was very difficult, but I wouldn’t regret it for the world. To me my husband’s funeral was my last opportunity to say goodbye, so I wanted it to be perfect. On the back of everything I learnt, I decided to set up my own website funeralcostshelp.co.uk to help others.
Everything went smoothly at my partner’s funeral but in hindsight there are a few things that I would’ve done differently, mainly because at the time I was unaware of the rules and regulations.
1. There can be leeway with headstone design
As a devout member of the Church of England, I was led to believe that my partner’s headstone options were limited. After placing the order and choosing the memorial passage, however, I discovered that I could have applied for special permission to have a more unique headstone design. While I’m not disappointed with the shape and finish, it would’ve been nice to have a few more options. While approval must be granted from the parish, I would’ve happily sacrificed the prominent position of the burial plot for a stone that was more to my husband’s tastes.
2. Low income benefits are available
Before I started dipping into my own personal savings I used whatever I could to cover the costs from my husband’s funeral insurance plan. As a pensioner, I don’t have or make a lot of money, so I was disappointed to recently discover that I could’ve got financial aid from The Social Fund. While the full fee of £700 was definitely out-of-reach, I’m almost certain I would’ve qualified for the £120 expense cover had I applied at the right time. Although it may not seem like a great deal to most people, at the time it would’ve really helped.
3. Non-disbursement costs really add up
Generally speaking the disbursement fees are the essential costs, such as the burial fees, cremation fees and doctor fees. These costs equated to around £1,000 when arranging my husband’s funeral. I knew there were plenty of other costs to consider as well, such as the coffin and flowers, but I wish I knew that the optional fees would be just as expensive. For example, the post-funeral service – reception and catering – alone cost almost £500. Looking back it would’ve been more appropriate to host the reception at home and ask visitors to bring some food for the table.
4. I could’ve arranged more myself
Hiring a funeral director is great and I couldn’t recommend it enough; however, there were many aspects of the funeral that I could’ve just as easily arranged myself. Funeral directors are invaluable for the legal and admin side, but they certainly aren’t a necessity for the more personal aspects.
5. Will requests are completely optional
My partner hadn’t updated his will for many years; therefore, some of his written wishes for the funeral had changed. While we discussed these things in person on occasion, he never updated the document. Out of pure worry I made a few smaller arrangements – such as the reception venue and choice of flowers – based on his will, knowing full well that he would’ve preferred something different. While the changes didn’t spoil the ceremony, it would’ve been nice to give him the send-off he would have genuinely wanted.
Take my regrets on board and hopefully when you’re making funeral arrangements you’ll be a little more aware about how much control you have.
This was a guest post written by Jan Andrews founder of FuneralCostsHelp.co.uk, a website dedicated to help people understand the process and costs involved when planning a funeral.