Funeral plans: Don’t let them be the death of you

“Gazelle will never say: ‘Just eat me’. We have to hunt.” This was a line spoken by a manager at one pre-paid funeral provider, according to undercover operations that were reported by the Guardian. Sadly, this is just another example of vulnerable individuals being put at risk – as most of them should probably never have been sold a funeral plan in the first place.

I wrote a blog recently about elder abuse and what can go wrong when an individual nominates the wrong attorney to look after their financial affairs in the event they cannot do so. In fact, according to findings by a London law firm, there was a considerable rise in applications to the Court of Protection in 2018/19 – and that they are investigating more cases than ever of attorneys who are abusing that position of power and trust to bully both the elderly and vulnerable people.

When I heard the latest news about pre-paid funeral plans coming under fire, I wasn’t surprised. According to the Money Mail, an undercover investigation revealed how customers were routinely baffled by exaggerated false claims that were made by such companies, and that elderly and vulnerable people are being misled by staff in a desperate bid to hit targets.

For those who dared to go back on their word, huge cancellation charges lay in wait. When the time came to make a claim on those funeral plans, there were often restrictions on when you can have a service, adding stress to families already experiencing an emotional time.

Even if you’re tempted to have a look around to see how much a funeral plan will cost you, you could find yourself bombarded with persistent sales people, who will put you under tremendous pressure, until you sign on the dotted line.

The good news is, the Treasury has said it will step in to regulate this industry and make them eventually become accountable to the Financial Conduct Authority. However, until that review takes place, rogue firms might be tempted to become even more aggressive whilst they can.

According to the article the average cost of a basic funeral is already £3,785 – and rising. If you do need to invest in a funeral plan, make sure you do your own research, check them out first and talk to your family before entering into anything you’re unsure of. Certainly, do not be bullied into signing up for something you’re not fully bought into.

If you would like any further advice on this matter, or you’d like to talk to us about nominating an attorney, writing an LPA or a will, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

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