In Australia, pre-payment of funeral expenses is one of the most common funeral planning options. With more and more families choosing how they will be celebrated after death, funeral directors have made the process easier than ever. So, how exactly do pre-paid funerals work?
Who is eligible for a Pre-Paid Funeral?
Pre-paid Funerals are available for anyone looking to relieve their family of the financial burden of their passing. Irrespective of your health circumstances, suitable arrangements can be made with your preferred funeral director. There are also no restrictions on the age of applicants, making this an ideal option for everyone.
How does a Pre-Paid Funeral work?
The idea of this funeral planning option is quite simple. The costs associated with death are paid for in advance, in prices agreed to by you and your preferred funeral director. This helps lock the cost of your funeral into todays prices and protects against inflation and rising costs. The funds deposited are held in trust by a third party. This third party will usually invest the funds to ensure that they meet all of the costs when needed. After death, the funds will be released to the funeral director and the arrangements made will be conducted.
How much does a Pre-Paid Funeral cost?
You will pay the same price for a Pre-Paid Funeral as you would for a funeral that was being arranged for today. That is, usually there are no extra costs for choosing this option. It is the responsibility of the third-party holding the funds in trust to ensure that their investment of the funds will cover the cost of your funeral in the future. Basically, there are no extra costs for choosing this option. The total cost of a Pre-Paid Funeral can vary from $1,500 to well over $10,000. Find out more about the cost of a funeral here. It is important to consider that there may be debit fees charged for plans that involve monthly repayments (instead of lump-sum pre-payment). Speak with your preferred funeral director about what they offer and if they charge any debit fees.
What costs are covered by a Pre-Paid Funeral?
There is no limit to the costs that can be covered by pre-paying your funeral. You choose the inclusions of your service and personalise it to reflect your needs. The most common costs included in a funeral plan include:
- Coffin or casket of your choice
- Burial or cremation costs
- Cost of flower arrangements
- Funeral director’s professional fees
- Celebrant of your choice
- Death notices online and in local publications
Optional inclusions in a Pre-Paid Funeral plan can include:
- Repatriation and transportation costs
- Venue and celebration costs
- Catering and beverages
- Special memorial costs
- Gravestone or plate engraving
What if I change my mind?
There is a two week cooling off period where the funds may be refunded. However if you have invested funds into a Pre-Paid Funeral plan for greater than two weeks, unfortunately you are unable to use these funds for anything other than your funeral costs. The monies paid cannot be withdrawn or invested elsewhere. For this reason, it is important to establish whether a Pre-Paid Funeral truly is the best suited option for your needs. Careful attention should be paid to all the contract terms and conditions. You should also consider getting funeral quotes from various providers to ensure that you are paying for your funeral in todays fair market price.
How to get started?
The easiest way to get started with a Pre-Paid Funeral is to contact your local funeral director. They will be able to give you information into what they offer and their service prices. They will also have the contracts for you to read through before making a decision about proceeding.
How will my family know that I have made arrangements?
To make things easier for your family, it is important that you inform the people closest to you of your funeral arrangements. It is also a good idea to keep a copy of the documentation in a file at home, as well as with your next of kin and your lawyer. If the information about your arrangements is easy to find, the claiming process will be smoother and quicker for your loved ones.
What happens to my Pre-Paid Funeral if I move?
Any funds you have contributed to your Pre-Paid Funeral plan will remain yours, irrespective of where you are residing. However, if you relocate and you are outside of the service area of the funeral director you made your arrangements with, you will need to have the funeral plan transferred to a closer funeral director. Commencing this transfer is as simple as making a phone call to the funeral director with which the funeral plan was prepared, and request a transfer. You should consider that the original arrangements made may be more expensive with the new funeral director, and difference will need to be contributed by you. Make sure you request this pricing information in an itemised format from the new funeral director.
Where is my Pre-Paid Funeral registered?
Some Australian states require the registration of Pre-Paid Funerals. This is regulatory but also protects you and the investment you make in cushioning your family.
In Queensland, the registration of Pre-Paid Funerals is made with The Office of Fair Trading. They can be contacted on 13 74 68 or through their website.
NSW Fair Trading Registry Services is the department responsible for contributory and Pre-Paid Funerals in New South Wales. The Registry Services department can be contacted on 1800 502 042 or visit their website.
In South Australia, the Government of South Australia hold the registration information of pre-paid arrangements. They can be contacted on 13 10 84 or visit their website.
In Tasmania, Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading maintain the Pre-Paid Funerals registry. The department can be contacted on 1300 65 44 99 or visit their website.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has information on their website about Pre-Paid Funeral arrangements that are made in Victoria. For more information, visit their website or give them a call on 1300 558 181.
Information about making funeral arrangements in Western Australia is limited, as at time of publication, the WA Government does not regulate Pre-Paid Funerals. Visit the Government of Western Australia website for more information.
Your preferred funeral director can also give you more information about the legislation applicable to your Australian state.