CMA and Direct Cremations

Hello - does anyone have any thoughts on whether the price of direct cremations (I'm thinking the 'buttercup plan with Age Concern/Dignity) will likely come down given the investigations by the CMA into the industry? Or do you think it probable that this will only affect the higher end funeral packages? I am looking to buy the prepaid buttercup plan but considering putting it off until next year if prices could come down. They tend to go up around £100 every December  (according to Dignity) so otherwise I will buy now as I would like to get my affairs in order now that I have turned fifty and am eligible to purchase a plan. Thank you :)
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  • MumumMumum Forumite
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    No-one have any thoughts?
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    Fifty seems quite young to be thinking about funeral plans, but maybe you have good reason. As for where prices will go, I normally expect things to go up. Dignity are unlikely to suggest that prices will fall any time soon. I suggest once you make your decision, you don't keep checking to see whether it was a good one or not ... 
    Still knitting!
    Completed: TWO adult cardigans, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees, 2 sets of handwarmers, 1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 3 balaclavas, multiple hats and poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: pink balaclava (for myself), seaman's hat, about to start another cardigan!
  • MumumMumum Forumite
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    Haha yes, thanks Sue. Checking and finding prices had dropped would be very annoying. Yes prices usually would go up but the CMA are investigating into the cost of funerals and I know Dignity are planning on closing many of their locations and cutting staff to cut costs next year. I'm just wondering whether this is likely to impact the lower end of the market where you're only paying for the basic no frills package though or just the higher end funerals with services. Yes I have reason to purchase, 6 yrs in remission but could always come back plus my will executors want me to have it all sorted.
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    Well, if there will be money in your estate to pay for whatever you want, my instinct would be to write down what you want, ie very basic, cremation or burial, family only or as many as want to come (assuming they can!), flowers or not etc. But not necessarily pre-pay for anything. 

    There was a thread here where someone had pre-paid for their funeral, with a local company, but by the time they'd died that company had been taken over by a larger chain, and the poster did not feel their relative had got what he paid for. 

    Just as an example, when Dad died, Mum chose what she wanted for him, which gave us a good clue to what her preferences / hymn choices would be a few years later. If Mum had gone first, I'm not sure Dad would have had much clue, plus he'd have been in bits and unable to think well. And I've told DH I want to be cremated, whereas he doesn't care what happens to him, and I think if it's down to me I will bury him and leave a space for my ashes in his plot. We've got no further than that, which will make life interesting if we go together and the boys have to sort it out ... 
    Still knitting!
    Completed: TWO adult cardigans, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees, 2 sets of handwarmers, 1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 3 balaclavas, multiple hats and poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: pink balaclava (for myself), seaman's hat, about to start another cardigan!
  • MumumMumum Forumite
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    Thank you Sue, the executors of my will want me to have my affairs in order, especially as they would not have immediate access to my bank account upon my death. To purchase ahead would cost approx £1500 (there is only my son and I and we both agree we want a direct cremation), and £1000 if I bought at time of need (at today's prices). With prices rising approx £100/yr it would take 5 yrs of me living in order to have made buying ahead cost effective. I'm happy to take that risk and to please my executors, however I'm tempted to hold off the purchase if prices are likely to come significantly tumbling down in the light of the CMA investigations. I would go with Age Concern/Dignity as they meet my needs best (I looked into local),  Buying now to avoid the rising funeral costs is a good idea only if they're not going to come down if new regulations are brought in. Alternatively, of course, the already basic direct funeral package could continue to go up above inflation and I'd be worse off not buying now. Its frustrating not knowing what to do!
  • poppystarpoppystar Forumite
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    Yes, @Savvy_Sue, that was me on the prepay funeral front!

    After my experience with my father’s I wouldn’t prepay, if companies can change totally in five years it doesn’t seem worth it. My father prepaid to get the funeral he wanted rather than for financial reasons - basically a repeat of my mother’s which had been great - and it was nothing like it in terms of the service received as well as being more expensive than if I’d bought it when needed.

    I think clear and detailed instructions to executors and ensuring there is enough money left in the pot is the way to go, assuming that the executors are happy with that. 

    I’ve heard people say that doing that is controlling from beyond the grave (well just before the grave!) but anything that makes the executors life easier and enables them to know they are following your wishes is a good thing in my opinion. Quite frankly if both of my parents had gone at the same time I would have been at a complete loss but my father made all the decisions for my mother’s and that helped me learn about what he might want himself. I knew what music he liked so felt confident with that but in my case it won’t be close family arranging so controlling or not I’m putting instructions down that I hope will be followed but will add that I’m not going to haunt anyone if it has to change a bit! 

    @Mumum ...Don't forget to include what you want done with the ashes but please ensure it’s viable. My father has left strict instructions on that but I’m not actually sure how legal scattering in a river in a public place may be! For me a rocket (giant firework) is in the plan and that is the bit I’m most keen to have happen whereas the actual cremation like yours will probably be direct or a very simple affair. I’d hate my executors to be faced with ashes that they had no idea what to do with.

    good luck with the decision
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    Mumum said:
    Thank you Sue, the executors of my will want me to have my affairs in order, especially as they would not have immediate access to my bank account upon my death. 
    That should not be a problem: if the bill from the funeral directors is presented direct to your bank, then it should be paid direct without your executors having access. They'd just need the account details in order to present the bill to the right bank ... 
    Still knitting!
    Completed: TWO adult cardigans, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees, 2 sets of handwarmers, 1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 3 balaclavas, multiple hats and poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: pink balaclava (for myself), seaman's hat, about to start another cardigan!
  • It all depends on your circumstances. If you have some health concern which means you fear death in the next 5 years, a funeral plan is unlikely to save you any cash and it's best to put £4/5k in an ISA and leave it there, with clear written instructions somewhere and that your family know where to find should it happen. If you are fit and healthy and, to the best of your knowledge, have got another 20/30 years in the tank, then a funeral plan will certainly save you money purely from protecting against inflation.

    I work in funerals and I can't see crematorium fees coming down too much any time soon - there's more or less a fixed cost to running and maintaining a cremation furnace, divided by the amount of "slots" they have at a crematorium. 'Direct cremations' and full funerals with all the "bells and whistles" still take the same amount of time and resources to burn the body after the mourners have gone home. I am not aware of any local councils creaming off juicy profits from this. If anything, the likelihood is that as a country we will need to build more crematoria as the population grows - they're pretty expensive to build (seven figures), a cost which will need to be met by the fees charged. Either that or the private sector will sense an opportunity... but I still can't reasonably see dozens of crematoria sprouting up out of nowhere to the point where cremation costs significantly tumble.

    The CMA investigation is more into whether grieving/bereaved people are aware of the costs of things before they agree to them (eg costs of types of coffin, costs of cars, costs of flowers) - I suspect there'll be some sort of consumer advice forcing funeral directors to show such costs "upfront" which may have the effect of reducing average funeral costs if more people opt against having the more expensive things. But if you are choosing exactly what you want then I suspect the actual costs will stay broadly the same (except for inflation).
  • MumumMumum Forumite
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    Technosaurus, that is exactly the information I was looking for and I'm very grateful to you for taking the time to share it with me. Thank you.

    I don't know what the future will hold, I've survived cancer for 6 years and have a 15% chance of it returning, but I could be one of the unlucky ones. If it is likely that direct cremation costs will not come down then I would opt to take the gamble of surviving another 5+ more and purchase now. I did, however, see an article where cremation costs had decreased over the last few years. I took a screenshot so I shall try and report back. 

    My problem is that I don't have family or people whom I am close to, except my young son. I have had to reach out to kind people who have agreed to be my executors and they want me to have all my affairs in order including my funeral, which is reasonable as they owe me nothing, they are just helping to be kind so would want minimal distraction from their own commitments and family should the worse happen. Putting money into an ISA therefore wouldn't work. My dilemma was only whether to buy a direct cremation now or wait a year or so.


  • MumumMumum Forumite
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    Hello again, reporting back with the article which suggests that direct cremation costs have gone down over the last few years, despite funerals going up? Hence my thought that they could continue in that direct.
    This is money.co.uk

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