This is a bit of a depressing post today but one that I personally could have done with reading when I had to organise my Dad’s funeral recently. I searched for ‘how to organise a funeral’ but all of the things that came up first were funeral directors selling their services which is all good but didn’t help me at the time so I thought I’d share my experience.
So, last month I had to arrange my Dad’s funeral – something he’d tried to talk to me about in the past but stupidly I always said to him that we had plenty of time to talk about things like that so we never really discussed it in too much detail. I had no clue how to organise a funeral but it wasn’t as hard as I was expecting and now that things are a little easier I thought I’d share a few tips with you.
My first tip is that, if you want something specific then write it down. Your loved ones might not want to talk about it with you and that’s understandable but you can add the details to your will as to what you want. That means you’ll get the funeral you want if you have something specific in mind but more important than that, you’re making it easier for the people who have to make the decisions about everything as you’re simplifying things. I struggled throughout the meeting with our funeral director as I knew my Dad and I knew he wouldn’t want us to spend a fortune but at the same time, it felt like it was me making the decisions not to spend which felt wrong so I did overspend in some areas that in retrospect, I know my Dad would have hated.
I have a will that I set up with Farewill last year online which was super simple to do and took me no time at all. I was working with Farewill at the time so I didn’t have to pay but even if I had, the £90 individual fee (£135 for couples) is so much cheaper than going through a solicitor.
You’re taken through the process online of setting up your will and then the will is sent off to be checked by a solicitor. Mine was checked and I got some feedback about something I’d written that would cause Mr Frugal a few headaches (I’m sure it was splitting the house between him and the kids) so I did make changes based on that.
My funeral wishes are in my will now so hopefully, that should make organising it easier for my loved ones.
My next tip is honestly not to worry about the details because once you’ve chosen your funeral director, they really do take all the stress out of it. We went with the Co-op Funeralcare service simply because I googled funeral directors and our town and they were top of the list. They sent a lovely lady to my house and she basically went through a checklist that covered all aspects of the funeral. She gave me options for everything and explained the implications of the costs of each thing we talked about and within about 40 minutes everything was in place.
They do have a ‘simple’ option funeral which is the more budget version so if you want to go for that then let your funeral director know that you want to go for that option up front and they can highlight the ‘simple’ option for each of the choice you have to make.
The simple version includes everything you need but means that you’re given a set date and time for the funeral, you can’t choose the route to the crematorium/place of burial and you get a basic coffin. Nothing that stands out as money saving to other people and certainly nothing that made me feel like I wasn’t giving him a good send-off. I believe the basic funeral package costs around £2000 for the funeral itself but there are extras to consider on top of that.
We paid for a family limousine to take us to the crematorium which cost £220 if I remember rightly and we also paid around £140 for some special flowers which we wanted in the shape of a football. We talked about football every week when we visited and it was always something that made him come to life, he would speak to Mr Frugal on the phone after every Boro match and wanted a play by play review of the match. The flowers were as much for us as they were for him as they were a reminder of some fun times.
On top of that, there were the crematorium fees, the fees for the celebrant who officiated the service and some other random fees for things like embalming. With everything added together, the costs were just over £4000 which felt like a lot.
For us, we had to pay an amount up front of around £1400 within 48 hours of our initial appointment in order for them to collect my Dad from the hospital and take him back to his resting place until the funeral. His bank was really good with advancing the funds for this upon receipt of the invoice from the co-op and we actually ended up paying in full at this point to save having to go back in the bank again. I did panic before my appointment with the bank though because it was a lot of money and I didn’t want to let my Dad down by having to delay things or worse, not be able to afford to pay for everything we wanted because of a delay in accessing the money.
Mr Frugal and I will be taking out a pre-paid funeral plan in the next month when things start to settle because I don’t want anyone having to deal with the stress of paying for things for us when we pass away. I think we’ll stick with the co-op as we were so happy with the care of my Dad and I like that they have an option where you can pay monthly over a few years so, for the cost of a takeaway a month, I can take away some stress for the kids.
I’m sorry for the sad post today, happy thoughts will return tomorrow. 😉
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