With funeral costs rising year on year, and well above the rate of inflation, it’s no surprise that funeral plans are becoming more and more popular. Unfortunately, there’s a large number of unscrupulous companies out there, offering what is in our opinion a bad deal for you.

We have put a lot of time and effort into the Beyond Open plan to ensure that it is as fair for you as it is for the funeral director you choose. After all, the funeral director is the one who will actually provide the funeral for you, so they deserve to get a fair deal too.

In this article, we go into a bit more detail on exactly how our plan works and where the money goes, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not the Beyond Open plan is right for you.

Read first: What is a pre-paid funeral plan?

The Beyond Open Funeral Plan Explained

 

Remind me quickly what a funeral plan is?

A funeral plan locks in a funeral at today’s prices to protect against rising funeral costs. You pay an agreed amount of money, which is then invested and released at the time of death to pay for the funeral. This released money then helps pay cremation or burial fees, doctors’ fees and the funeral director’s fees.

 

What makes the Beyond Open funeral plan different?

We allow you to customise every aspect of your funeral, rather than selling you set packages with silly names, like ‘platinum’ and ‘bronze.’ We believe that everyone should have a dignified service and total control over their funeral, and the Beyond Open plan makes that possible. You choose exactly what you want and pay for only what you need.

All our funeral plans are priced directly in partnership with a local funeral director. Other big providers use set pricing across the country, which means many people overpay. As we showed in May, the prices for cremation and burial differ enormously depending on where you are in the country. Why should you pay London burial prices when you live in Northern Ireland? With a customisable, bespoke funeral plan, you will never overpay for your funeral.

Finally, our plan is the only one that lets you choose your funeral director yourself online. All other plan providers nominate a funeral director for you. To us, this makes no sense as the funeral director is a key part of a good funeral. You should be able to choose someone you trust to carry out your funeral, not some faceless company.

 

How much are funeral costs rising?

According to a number of reports, funeral costs are projected to continue rising at a rate above inflation. Most recently, Sunlife reported that the average cost of a funeral in 2029 is projected to be £10,203. To place that figure in context, the average cost of a funeral today is around £3,800.

 

So I pay £3,000 today, and in the future this will be worth £10,000 to my family?

Yes and no – this is not quite so simple, but we’ll do our best to explain.

The Beyond Open plan guarantees the funeral director fees, which includes all of their professional services and collection from a local address, as well as things like the coffin, hearse and limousines.

Disbursements, or third-party fees, are extremely difficult to guarantee, as they aren’t controlled by the funeral director. Cremation and burial fees, for example, are set by the council or company that owns the crematorium or cemetery you’d like to use.

Even though we can’t guarantee that the full cost of any disbursements will be covered by the funeral plan, we do set aside a generous pot of money from the plan for them, with the idea that interest gained over time will offset rises in costs. To date, our plan has gained 3.7% in interest, more than the standard 2.7% or 0.5% offered by other plan providers.

 

What happens to my money?

Your money will be invested in a trust fund on your behalf, which is managed by an independent board of trustees. This money then grows so that when the time comes, it will go further in real terms than the initial payment you’ve made.

When the time for your funeral comes, your next of kin just need to contact your nominated funeral director, who will then ask the trust to release the funds.

 

Does my plan quote include commission and admin fees?

The Beyond Open plan does include fees; however, ours are among the lowest on the market. The total administration fee charged by Beyond is £195. Other plan providers have been shown to charge up to £1,000 in fees and commissions, neither of which go towards the cost of your funeral. This effectively means that of the £4,000 you might spend on a funeral plan, as little as £3,000 would actually be put towards your funeral costs.

This drives companies to maximise funeral plan sales with direct marketing, looking to sell as many plans as possible. At Beyond, we do not use direct sales tactics like cold calling. With us, you can do everything online, under no pressure. You select the exact type of funeral that you would like, right down to the funeral director you trust to look after you when the time comes.

We do not pay anybody any commissions for selling our plans. Our staff are all UK-based and are here to help, not sell.

 

Can I cancel my plan?

You can cancel your plan at any point. Please note that if you cancel your plan more than 30 days after taking it out, you will be charged the initial administration fee of £195. This is among the lowest of all plan providers.

 

Is the Beyond Open plan fair for funeral directors?

We believe that the Beyond Open plan is the best plan out there for funeral directors. The funeral directors we work with enter their own pricing on our platform, so we are not holding them to standardised, nationwide packaged pricing, which bears no resemblance to their overheads and costs.

 

What happens if my chosen funeral director ceases to exist?

We will nominate a new funeral director on your behalf, keeping you updated at every stage. You will have the right to reject any funeral directors that we propose.

 

Is the Beyond Open plan performance available for scrutiny?

Your money will be looked after by a board of independent trustees. The trust has seen an excellent rate of growth since the foundation of Open Prepaid Funerals in 2003, with an average annual growth rate of 3.74%.

Unlike other funeral plan providers, we are proud to publish growth rates every year.

 

Can I specify exactly how I would like my funeral to be?

Yes – that’s another benefit to taking out a funeral plan. If you would like to be buried in a family plot, for instance, rather than being cremated, you can specify this in your plan and pay off the associated costs.

If you’d like to plan out the minutiae of your funeral, such as music and dress code, you might wish to consult a funeral arranger, or speak to your chosen funeral director to ensure that your wishes are recorded for posterity. Read our interview with Zeleka Sutherland, a funeral arranger, here.

 

Can I pay off my plan in instalments?

You can pay off your plan however you like: in monthly instalments or all in one go with a lump sum.

It’s important to us that you can pay the balance of your funeral plan in a way that suits you. If you pay off the balance of your funeral plan in one go, or inside 12 months, it will be interest free. If you pay it off within 10 years, this incurs 4.9% interest.

 

Can I make any changes to my funeral plan at a later date?

Yes, you can. There is only one admin fee to be paid, and that is paid at the time that you take out the plan. We will not charge it again should you wish to make any changes to your plan.

If you elect to scale back your funeral plan, you will be refunded the associated amount at its original value at time of purchase. If you choose to take out a more expensive plan, you’ll need to pay the difference.

With a funeral plan in place from a reputable provider, there is hopefully a low chance of a shortfall. Funeral director fees are guaranteed in our plan so there will be no shortfall there. If, however there is a shortfall on third-party costs, your next of kin have two options.

Your next of kin can slightly change the funeral that you have requested to fit the available budget, for instance by opting for a more affordable coffin, or by changing the crematorium or cemetery that you have selected. Alternatively, they can make up the remaining balance.

 

What is the difference between a funeral plan and funeral insurance?

Funeral insurance sees you pay a monthly fee to an insurer, who then pays for your funeral upon your death. While funeral insurance often seems a cheaper option than taking out a funeral plan, there are a few key things to bear in mind:

  1. You will need to keep paying funeral insurance until you die for your policy to be realised, whereas a funeral plan is a one-off defined payment that will cover the funeral that you have requested.
  2. Depending on the insurer, you may not have that much control over how your funeral will go, such as whether it will include a burial or a cremation.
  3. If you are statistically more likely to die before the full cost of the funeral has been paid off, for example if you are above a certain age, or have certain medical conditions, your monthly insurance payments will be high.
  4. The longer you live, the more funeral insurance will cost you, so over your lifetime you may well end up paying more than a funeral plan would cost you.

 

Do I have to be over a certain age to take out a Beyond Open plan?

Compared to some providers, who require you to be over 50 years of age to take out a plan with them, the Beyond Open plan is available to anyone aged over 18.

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