Funeral problems - advice needed please

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
4 replies 2K views
PompeyfanPompeyfan Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
My dad passed away on the 25th January and his funeral was held on the 16th February, I'm the executer of his will (and only son) and used the Funeral Directors stipulated in Dads will, but I've have a few issues with them. I'm agoraphobic so going out is extremely difficult and I was under a lot of stress cause of this and having to go to the funeral, but have had additional problems caused by the Funeral Directors so want to know if there's anything I can do.

1. They threatened to postpone the funeral without a £1000 deposit, they knew the money was in the bank in Dads account and the bank agreed to release the funds to the funeral directors upon receiving an invoice, but the invoice sent was for the full amount not the deposit and the bank wouldn't pay that as there was not enough money in the account (I'm waiting on a funeral plan to pay out which the directors were aware of and have been in contact with the insurance company themselves). They insisted on the deposit but refused to take a cheque and only wanted cash or a bank draft - both of which would need me to go out. I managed to get it sorted by paying with a card over the phone - but I've been told by a few people that this shouldn't have happened and I shouldn't have to pay a deposit just the final invoice, is that right? As it caused quite a lot of stress and mad me ill. The directors knew about my issues and that I am on benefits so was looking to save where I could - the £2,560 service didn't even include a car.

2. The full invoice they sent the bank was for £3,560 (which was for the funeral, church service and internment - grave only needed opening as dad had bought the plot when mum died), but I've since received a new invoice for £3,856.44 which they've added grave stone removal/replacement, organist at the church and putting an obituary in the local paper, which I'm not happy about as:

A) I thought the grave stone removal/replacement was part of the Internment fee as they charged over £800 for that and had to move it to dig the hole.

B) I was quoted £200 for the church service which I was led to believe included the organist, but the latest invoice has an additional £50 added for it.

C) When I put my announcement in the local paper I couldn't put the funeral details as they were unknown, so I was going to put another announcement in the following weeks paper, but the funeral director said they would do it as part of the service when the date was set. They had 2 Fridays to get the details in the paper before the funeral (local paper is weekly) but they forgot, so they said they'd put an obituary in after the funeral even though that was too late to notify people, but it would at least let people know what charity to donate to instead of flowers and not charge me. The invoice they sent includes a charge for £26.41 for this (even though it would have only cost me £10 to do it) which I'm not happy about especially as I've had a few of dads old colleagues apologising for missing the funeral as they didn't know, so they would have been there had the directors done their job and hopefully MacMillan nurses might have got some donations.

D) They were also supposed to email me some photo's of dad in the chapel of rest as I couldn't visit him, but haven't done that either.

Is there anything I can do? or someone one I can complain to as the funeral directors just say they can't do anything?

Also, the funeral plan was taken out years ago by mum for both hers and dads funeral with Pearl assurance, and was supposed to cover the entire cost which it did for mum's although dad paid extra to buy the plot so it would be cheaper for his, but Pearl are now owned by Phoenix Life and they say they'll only pay out £1,700 which leaves a £2,000+ shortfall.

Replies

  • edited 1 March 2015 at 1:00PM
    SevenOfNineSevenOfNine Forumite
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    edited 1 March 2015 at 1:00PM
    1) Yes, a deposit is ordinarily required. Could be anything between 1/3 and 1/2.

    2) If you made no changes to your original requirements, then the funeral director should explain the increase in full (& personally I'd stop with the telephone discussions & stick to email).

    2A) 'Interment' would mean precisely that: Transport of deceased to the site, stone lifting, digging, putting deceased in place, back filling & putting the original stone back. To include any/all permission the FD would need to undertake this. In my experiences of this it included the local council (3 times with ashes) who !!!!!!!g well CHARGE for everything even when you won the plot!!! But FD's know this and the costings they give includes all of it (they pay & then you pay them).

    I'm wondering whether you subsequently requested a new stone, additional stone, or amendments to the old one to cover your Father being there as well, or for the Vicar to be there..........anything which may have bumped up the original quoted cost? If not, they gave you an £800 cost so that's what you pay.

    2B) Was the decision to have an organist in your original quote? Or was this one of those throwaway questions a FD might subsequently ask without you don't realising it's going to cost you extra?

    2C) You can't do much about this now. But if they agreed 'no charge' & you accepted that then knock the cost off the final invoice.

    2D) Oh dear, I can't tell you how sorry I am about this part. Mainly because if they 'forgot' this cannot be undone now. An FD told my niece they had 'lost' the lock of hair she asked them to cut when her baby died. Devastating. You'll have to decide if you want to take the lack of photo's further with the company. First email to ask if they did as promised though.


    The funeral plan, shouldn't make a monetary difference if it changed from Pearl to Phoenix, though they may specify different FD's who can be used, amendment such as "now you'll get less money" wouldn't apply - certainly NOT without your Father's knowledge. You'll have to go through the original contract from Pearl & any amendments made when it switched to Phoenix (which would all have been done in writing).

    I'm afraid to say I did notice the words "I thought" & "I believe" being used here. Didn't the FD visit you (they can & do come to homes - particularly in your circumstances), prepare a quote using a pro-forma with everything you required on it - just the same as if you went to their premises. You sign it to agree all the arrangements & the total cost.

    Only reason it might bump up then is if you agree to subsequent additions. However small, they can add up. If not then I don't see what reason they can use to jack the cost up after your initial agreement.

    I'd probably tell Phoenix Life to discuss all aspects of the payment plan with yourself & NOT the FD (unless it's in the T&C's of the plan that this will happen).

    Not sure, as you are on benefits, if this link will help with any shortfall should the funeral plan & estate balance not cover the costs. https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/eligibility
    Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
  • SevenOfNineSevenOfNine Forumite
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    Oops, duplicate post
    Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
  • edited 20 March 2015 at 12:39AM
    PompeyfanPompeyfan Forumite
    39 Posts
    edited 20 March 2015 at 12:39AM
    1) Yes, a deposit is ordinarily required. Could be anything between 1/3 and 1/2.

    2) If you made no changes to your original requirements, then the funeral director should explain the increase in full (& personally I'd stop with the telephone discussions & stick to email).

    2A) 'Interment' would mean precisely that: Transport of deceased to the site, stone lifting, digging, putting deceased in place, back filling & putting the original stone back. To include any/all permission the FD would need to undertake this. In my experiences of this it included the local council (3 times with ashes) who !!!!!!!g well CHARGE for everything even when you won the plot!!! But FD's know this and the costings they give includes all of it (they pay & then you pay them).

    I'm wondering whether you subsequently requested a new stone, additional stone, or amendments to the old one to cover your Father being there as well, or for the Vicar to be there..........anything which may have bumped up the original quoted cost? If not, they gave you an £800 cost so that's what you pay.

    2B) Was the decision to have an organist in your original quote? Or was this one of those throwaway questions a FD might subsequently ask without you don't realising it's going to cost you extra?

    2C) You can't do much about this now. But if they agreed 'no charge' & you accepted that then knock the cost off the final invoice.

    2D) Oh dear, I can't tell you how sorry I am about this part. Mainly because if they 'forgot' this cannot be undone now. An FD told my niece they had 'lost' the lock of hair she asked them to cut when her baby died. Devastating. You'll have to decide if you want to take the lack of photo's further with the company. First email to ask if they did as promised though.


    The funeral plan, shouldn't make a monetary difference if it changed from Pearl to Phoenix, though they may specify different FD's who can be used, amendment such as "now you'll get less money" wouldn't apply - certainly NOT without your Father's knowledge. You'll have to go through the original contract from Pearl & any amendments made when it switched to Phoenix (which would all have been done in writing).

    I'm afraid to say I did notice the words "I thought" & "I believe" being used here. Didn't the FD visit you (they can & do come to homes - particularly in your circumstances), prepare a quote using a pro-forma with everything you required on it - just the same as if you went to their premises. You sign it to agree all the arrangements & the total cost.

    Only reason it might bump up then is if you agree to subsequent additions. However small, they can add up. If not then I don't see what reason they can use to jack the cost up after your initial agreement.

    I'd probably tell Phoenix Life to discuss all aspects of the payment plan with yourself & NOT the FD (unless it's in the T&C's of the plan that this will happen).

    Not sure, as you are on benefits, if this link will help with any shortfall should the funeral plan & estate balance not cover the costs. https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/eligibility

    I had an invoice for £3,510 for the funeral, internment and church service which is the one I was told to forward to the insurance company, I then got a 2nd invoce for £3,856.44 - A £346.44 increase.

    Sorry about the delay replying, I still haven't heard back from the FD regarding the letter I wrote them about the increase.

    2A) That's what I thought, the FD is now saying there's an extra fee to take the stone away and put it back. Its the original headstone, and today the FD rang to tell me how much to have dads details added to the inscirption would be, and are also now saying there's a fee to clean the headstone (I understand that although it looked ok), a fee for permission to add the inscription, and a fee for the flower pot they broke when removing the headstone.

    They want an additional £473 to add 77 letters to the headstone and put it back with the other fees above.

    2B) No organist fee was mentioned but hymns were discussed and two chosen. The quote was £183 for the church service + £15 travelling expenses for the Priest, this £198 then rose to £215 in the next invoice and then £50 was added to that.

    2C) the first invoice had the obituary as £0.00, the 2nd invoice at £26.44.

    The FD did visit me and the quote was £2,510 for the funeral plus £1000 for the service and internment and that was the first invoice I got. I never added anything to the requirements afterwards.
  • TBagpussTBagpuss Forumite
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    In that case, write back to them, remind them that you accepted a quote for £3,510 and that you did not authorise any increase. State that they failed to ibnform you that the additional items that they have now added were not included in the original quote.

    Tell them that you wish to make a formal complaint. In particualr
    - Why are they charging you for a flower pot broken by them
    - Why are they charging you for the obituary bearing in mind that they failed to place an ad about the service as agreed, and that they proposed, by way of apology, to place the obit free of charge
    - they have failed to provide you with the photographs of your dad which were agreed.

    I would suggest that you say in the letter that you would like a formal apology for the poor service and the errors on their part, and confirmationt hat they accept the the original invoice is correct and covered all of the works needed, as agreed at your ioriginal meeting.

    I agree that if there were additional work which you asked them to do, after the original quote, it would be appropriate for you to pay those, but if they found something had been missed from the original quote they ought to have contacted you first to ask whether you wanted the work, before going ahead. (particularly with something such as adding the inscription to the headstone, which is not time-sensitive in the way that the funeral arrangemetns themselves are.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
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