• December 1, 2023
 Research shows less than one in five people have made funeral plans

Research shows less than one in five people have made funeral plans

Report also reveals two in five people had to use their own money to organise deceased’s funeral

A funeral service provider has published research which shows fewer than 20% of people have made funeral plans, which is causing significant stress for family members.

The research, conducted by Everest, published their findings in a report entitled “Dealing with Death”. The study surveyed over 1,000 people across the UK who played a significant roe in organising a funeral for a family member or close friend in the last eight to 24 months. One of their findings was that just 18% of people have made plans for their own funeral, with two in five (39%) having to use their own money to pay for a funeral because the deceased had left no provisions.

It was also revealed that more than a quarter (26%) of those who said the deceased had prepared some funding for their own funeral, were not able to access this money when they needed to settle bills and had to cover the costs out of their own pocket until money was released. More than a third (36%) of respondents found the cost of the funeral to be greater than anticipated. Everest’s data shows that those who pre-arrange their own funeral through a provider (around 15%) reduce the financial impact on their loved ones.

In the UK, the average cost of a basic funeral is around £4,180, according to SunLife. For a third (35%) of those polled by Everest, funeral director and ministerial fees were the most expensive element of planning a final farewell.

Lack of funeral services support

Of those surveyed, many said they felt poorly supported throughout the process of funeral planning – for many of whom dealing with a death was unfamiliar territory. Only half (53%) of those who used a funeral service provider felt that their provider offered enough guidance and necessary information throughout the planning process, and one in six (16%) said they were offered enough support beyond basic logistics. Just one in five were offered out of hours support.

Death and funerals remain taboo topics

For people who have had to recently organise the funeral arrangements and associated paperwork, there is a determination not to put their loved ones through the same experience as a result of their death. 2 in 3 (66%) say they don’t want their funeral to be a burden for their loved ones and nearly three in five (57%) don’t want them to deal with financial challenges due to their funeral.

Part of the issue is a void of communication around the subject of death. Despite their often gruelling experience of organising a funeral, fewer than one in five (18%) have discussed funeral planning with their family and friends. A significant majority bemoan the lack of planning and transparency, with two in three (68%) wishing the topic was not such a taboo.

This lack of discussion impacts the time it takes for people to organise funerals and death administration. Half (54%) of the people saw some aspect of their daily lives impacted by the organisation of the funeral, and two in five (36%) admit that it left little time to grieve properly.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Wood, Chairman of Everest UK, said:

“For most of us, organising a funeral will be a source of financial and emotional stress, with planning becoming a full-time job in the weeks between someone’s death and the funeral. People deserve more support. We know that providing price transparency, assistance with funeral service provider selection, and help to organise the whole service is hugely valued and something we are here in the UK to assist with. The practicalities of dealing with death cannot be allowed to crowd out the time to grieve.

There is also a broader societal issue at play which prevents better preparation for when the inevitable happens. The reluctance to discuss death and funeral arrangements speaks to the ultimate taboo topic – our mortality. However, we know that those who make provisions and discuss their funeral wishes relieve the burden on the loved ones they leave behind. It’s time to scrap the euphemisms, look death squarely in the face and plan ahead, for the benefit of next of kin.”

Joseph Mullane