NEW TV show – Funerals: The True Cost? Has highlighted the importance of having a pre-paid funeral plan in place.
Karen Hitchman from Manchester appeared on the show explaining how she spent the last three and a half years in debt because of her parents’ ‘basic’ funeral and has explained how life has been a total living hell whilst trying to pay off the £7,000 bill.
Karen’s mother died in 2016 and her father passed away just six weeks later – which left her with more than £7,000 worth of bills to pay for their ‘basic’ funeral, which was made up of just one car, caskets and a simple crematorium service.
Thankfully, Karen was helped by several charities and the government who provided her with some of the money through grants – but the rest she had to find using loans.
The documentary investigates how funeral prices have doubled since 2004 – leaving hard-up families in £150million of outstanding loans, for funerals alone.
Speaking on the programme, Funerals: The True Cost? Karen says: ‘One car, casket, crematorium, home, that was it. No fancy service at a church beforehand, it was just a basic funeral.
‘So, when the funeral’s over and done with, people go home and say “what a lovely funeral” but they don’t realise you’re going home to all that debt.
‘I had to get loans. It’s taken me three and a half years almost to pay every penny off, for my mum’s and dad’s funeral,’ she explains.
It was a huge weight off Karen’s shoulders when all the costs had been paid, meaning she could start concentrating on herself once again, but the most difficult part for people in Karen’s position is that they are not fully able to grieve due to the added financial stress.
‘I felt relieved when everything was paid, and thought, “I can actually now start living my life.”,’ she confesses.
‘People should be able to say goodbye to their parents, children, partners and not be having to worry about the cost.’
Karen parents were together for 60 years when her mother died in 2016, with her father tragically dying shortly after.
‘My dad past away six weeks after my mum – it was from a broken heart,’ Karen claims. ‘They were together since the age of 14, never a day away from each other, and he just gave up.’
Also in the programme, Funerals: The True Cost?, former MP Frank Field, now Lord Field of Birkenhead, claimed funeral businesses have been ‘ripping off’ grieving families.
He chaired a Parliamentary investigation into the funeral industry back in 2016, and insists, amid a major inquiry by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), that some funeral directors were fleecing vulnerable families.
Lord Field claims the two biggest funeral companies in the country have been overcharging customers.
‘If it’s a decent person, they make sure you got a funeral which you might be able to pay for. Otherwise, they let you run up debts, and then you’re in a different ballgame.’
The CMA report noted the rising costs of funeral directors, cremations and graves
He says: ‘You’ll be given in many cases a 20-page price list of different types of coffins, complicated words like disbursements, internments.
‘And if you negotiate over it, you’ll think it feels like haggling over how much you love your loved one.’
The best way to avoid these situations is to pre-plan and pre-pay your funeral with an end of life plan.
Golden Leaves has been at the forefront of the development of funeral planning since its foundation in 1984.
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