Pre-Planning

Planning your Funeral

When faced with having to make funeral arrangements, most people have no prior experience in organising such an event, and little knowledge of what to do.

Pre-planning or pre-paying for your funeral can protect your loved ones from unnecessary stress related to making difficult decisions at an emotional time and relieve them from any financial burden.

Funeral Directors can alleviate this burden for you by guiding you through the planning process, explaining the products and services available and the costs involved in options such as:

  • Pre-paid funerals
  • Funeral Bonds
  • Funeral Insurance

Pre-planning or pre-paying a funeral can be completed through an appointment with a funeral director of your choice. Alternatively you can visit the Your Goodbye website and download the Your Goodbye booklet to start recording your wishes today.

A Pre-Paid Funeral is one where the family and Funeral Director establish the funeral requisites and services that they wish to contract and pay for now, for provision at a future date.

When planning a funeral decisions need to be made on the type of service and its location along with the content, music, readings, poetry and order of service, whether there will be a burial or a cremation, the choice of a coffin or a casket, the selection of funeral notices, deciding on floral tributes and looking at catering options. The Funeral Director will ensure that wishes are fulfilled.

Generally there are five cost components of a funeral. The ‘professional service’ fees from the Funeral Director which include each of the tasks and services involved in arranging, planning and conducting a funeral. The ‘coffin or casket’ costs which can vary based on the construction and type, quality, finish and style that has been chosen. ‘Cemetery and crematoria’ charges which are set by individual cemeteries and crematoria and will not vary between funeral companies. Options to ‘celebrate a life’ may include: visual presentations, service booklets, thank you cards and memorial books. Other third part disbursements payable may include newspaper notices, floral tributes, celebrant or clergy fees, music and catering.

The cost of a Pre-Paid Funeral is fixed, regardless of future price increases.

Funeral firms must invest the funds in a Friendly Society in strict accordance with the Funerals Act (1996) and the funds cannot be accessed until the funeral is provided; furthermore the funds are invested independently of the Funeral Director.

A pre-payment of a funeral does not impact on a pension entitlement, as it is not subject to an income or asset test.

Payment of a Pre-Paid Funeral may be made in one lump sum or through a payment plan.

When organising a Pre-Paid Funeral it is important that family is advised that arrangements for a funeral have been made in advance. Copies of the Pre-Paid Funeral contract should be provided to members of the family, or filed with the Will and other important documents.

A Pre-Arranged Funeral is one where the family and Funeral Director establish the funeral requisites and services which they may utilise in the future.

Information that may be required include: the contact person after your death, important personal information including marriage(s), children and parental details, which will be recorded on a death certificate. Decisions can also be made regarding the location of the funeral service, burial or cremation options, nominated clergy or celebrant to conduct the service, and personal wishes including readings, pallbearers, flowers, donation requests and music.

Payment of the funeral is made when the service is conducted.

+ Pre-paid Funeral

A Pre-Paid Funeral is one where the family and Funeral Director establish the funeral requisites and services that they wish to contract and pay for now, for provision at a future date.

When planning a funeral decisions need to be made on the type of service and its location along with the content, music, readings, poetry and order of service, whether there will be a burial or a cremation, the choice of a coffin or a casket, the selection of funeral notices, deciding on floral tributes and looking at catering options. The Funeral Director will ensure that wishes are fulfilled.

Generally there are five cost components of a funeral. The ‘professional service’ fees from the Funeral Director which include each of the tasks and services involved in arranging, planning and conducting a funeral. The ‘coffin or casket’ costs which can vary based on the construction and type, quality, finish and style that has been chosen. ‘Cemetery and crematoria’ charges which are set by individual cemeteries and crematoria and will not vary between funeral companies. Options to ‘celebrate a life’ may include: visual presentations, service booklets, thank you cards and memorial books. Other third part disbursements payable may include newspaper notices, floral tributes, celebrant or clergy fees, music and catering.

The cost of a Pre-Paid Funeral is fixed, regardless of future price increases.

Funeral firms must invest the funds in a Friendly Society in strict accordance with the Funerals Act (1996) and the funds cannot be accessed until the funeral is provided; furthermore the funds are invested independently of the Funeral Director.

A pre-payment of a funeral does not impact on a pension entitlement, as it is not subject to an income or asset test.

Payment of a Pre-Paid Funeral may be made in one lump sum or through a payment plan.

When organising a Pre-Paid Funeral it is important that family is advised that arrangements for a funeral have been made in advance. Copies of the Pre-Paid Funeral contract should be provided to members of the family, or filed with the Will and other important documents.

+ Pre-arranged Funeral

A Pre-Arranged Funeral is one where the family and Funeral Director establish the funeral requisites and services which they may utilise in the future.

Information that may be required include: the contact person after your death, important personal information including marriage(s), children and parental details, which will be recorded on a death certificate. Decisions can also be made regarding the location of the funeral service, burial or cremation options, nominated clergy or celebrant to conduct the service, and personal wishes including readings, pallbearers, flowers, donation requests and music.

Payment of the funeral is made when the service is conducted.

Pre-paid Funeral Standard

AFDA Policy is that Pre-Paid Funerals should comply with the following:

  • A written contract must be provided by the Funeral Director to the client clearly detailing the funeral requisites and services contracted and paid for.
  • The price of each Pre-Paid Funeral should be fixed.
  • The financial institution holding the funds should be at ‘arms length’ from the Funeral Director.
  • A numbered certificate in the name of the client should be provided by the financial institution.
  • The financial institution should guarantee that no funds can be withdrawn by the Funeral Director until the death and the funeral take place.
  • The financial institution must safeguard the funds of the client even if the funeral firm has gone out of business.
  • The Pre-Paid Funeral plans and associated procedures must comply with the relevant Commonwealth and State Legislation in each State in which it operates.
  • In the event that an AFDA Member is convicted in a court of law in relation to a charge of improper practice involving a Pre-Paid Funeral contract, National Council shall take action to revoke the membership of the particular Member in accordance with the Association’s Constitution.

Adopted By National Council November 1991
(Amended by National Council 2/11/2000 and 11/11/2004)

A Funeral Bond is a specialised investment which enables an individual to accumulate funds to meet future funeral expenses. An investment in a Funeral Bond is similar to a life insurance policy, whereby the benefit becomes payable on death. The benefits must be used to meet an individual’s funeral expenses. A Funeral Bond is an investment towards the cost of a funeral and by itself does not guarantee against rising funeral prices.

Funeral Insurance Policies are designed to meet unexpected funeral costs and are only to be paid upon death. Policies only cover death by accident in the first twelve months. When you first take out funeral insurance it may cost less than a cup of coffee a week, but some premiums rise and accumulate as you age.

It’s important that you read the fine print and consider your options before making a commitment. We encourage people to ensure they’re making informed decisions on how to pre-finance their funeral by exploring all the options. Do your research and don’t take just one person’s word for it.

+ Funeral Bonds

A Funeral Bond is a specialised investment which enables an individual to accumulate funds to meet future funeral expenses. An investment in a Funeral Bond is similar to a life insurance policy, whereby the benefit becomes payable on death. The benefits must be used to meet an individual’s funeral expenses. A Funeral Bond is an investment towards the cost of a funeral and by itself does not guarantee against rising funeral prices.

+ Funeral Insurance

Funeral Insurance Policies are designed to meet unexpected funeral costs and are only to be paid upon death. Policies only cover death by accident in the first twelve months. When you first take out funeral insurance it may cost less than a cup of coffee a week, but some premiums rise and accumulate as you age.

It’s important that you read the fine print and consider your options before making a commitment. We encourage people to ensure they’re making informed decisions on how to pre-finance their funeral by exploring all the options. Do your research and don’t take just one person’s word for it.

Pre-paid Funeral FAQ

A Pre-Paid Funeral is a funeral purchased in advance. The type and style of funeral the client wants is documented in a written contract and paid for at today’s prices. Subject to any specific terms of a Pre-Paid Funeral contract (e.g. if Government taxes are subsequently imposed or increased), the client will not have to pay any additional amount for that contracted funeral regardless of when the funeral is required. Payment of a Pre-Paid Funeral is invested with an independently managed funeral fund and is only released to the Funeral Director once the contracted funeral service is completed.

Anyone can take out a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan regardless of their age or state of health, and in doing so can enjoy the following benefits:

  • you can protect your family from the distress of making difficult decisions at an emotional time
  • your family will be relieved from any financial burden
  • it makes good financial sense – by making all of your choices now, you can fix the price of funeral at today’s costs (subject to any specific terms of the contact)
  • you can ensure that your exact wishes are made known and are carried out
  • pre-paying means real peace of mind for you and your family, and
  • you may be able to maximise your pension entitlement. Any money paid into the plan is not subject to the income or assets test or deemed earnings rule (according to current legislation).

A Pre-Paid Funeral Plan is designed to reflect your wishes and therefore can include whatever you wish, however, some options to consider include:

  • the type and style of funeral service
  • preparation of the body and viewing arrangements
  • burial or cremation
  • the specific cemetery or crematorium
  • type of coffin or casket
  • Minister or Celebrant
  • memorial book and memorial cards
  • death notices, flowers, mourning vehicles etc, and
  • special features you would like to include such as a poem or piece of music.

The money you pay for your Pre-Paid Funeral Plan is held secure by an independent entity such as a friendly society or trustee company and is properly invested and safeguarded until such time as the funeral services under the Pre-Paid Funeral Plan are required. Only then will the funds be released to the Funeral Director.

There are two ways to make payments for a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan. You can pay for your Pre-Paid Funeral Plan in a lump sum or your Funeral Director may give you the option to pay by instalments. This is usually arranged through a direct debit or booklet payment system.

If you move interstate you can rearrange your Pre-Paid Funeral Plan accordingly. Your Funeral Director will be able to assist you with the transferring of your Plan to another Funeral Director. However, prices cannot necessarily be guaranteed on a transfer, as there are price differences between many country and city areas. The funds are required to stay in the secure investment you have arranged and can be accessed by the new Funeral Director at the time of the funeral.

A Funeral Director should be notified immediately. They should be able to arrange for the transport of the deceased and attend to any statutory or customs requirements. In these circumstances there is usually an additional fee for the transportation of the deceased. Should the death and funeral occur overseas or interstate, the funds in the Pre-Paid Funeral Plan will be paid to the estate.

The money you pay for your Pre-Paid Funeral Plan is held by an independent entity and therefore is completely protected. It is invested in a separate fund in your name. It is not accessible by your Funeral Director until your funeral service has been provided. In the unlikely event that your original Funeral Director is no longer in business, you can organise to have the Plan transferred to another Funeral Director.

No. You cannot withdraw from a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan prior to death, nor can it be used in any way other than to pay for your funeral expenses. If you are not completely satisfied with your Pre-Paid Funeral Plan, your investment can be cancelled and your money refunded in full within 14 days of receipt of your investment confirmation. Otherwise no withdrawal from a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan is permitted.

When a Pre-Paid Funeral is finalised and the contract signed, a copy of the contract is held both by the arranger of the Pre-Paid Funeral, and by the Funeral Director. It is important that the contract is filed with other documents of a similar nature for when the need arises. It is also important to communicate to family and friends that these arrangements have been made and paid for in advance, as well as providing detailed instructions on where the contract can be located.

Unfortunately there is no central database that records Pre-Paid Funeral contracts, so if you have been informed or are aware of a family member/friend having taken out a Pre-Paid Funeral, we suggest to firstly look through their important documents for evidence of the contract. Secondly, speak to the person’s Solicitor to see if they had the contract filed away for their client, or speak to Funeral Directors in this person’s local area to see if they hold any record of a Pre-Paid Funeral contract being taken out. Our Find A Funeral Director search facility can be used to locate Funeral Directors in the relevant area.

If you think there was a Pre-Paid Funeral, but cannot find the relevant papers, the contract may have been left with someone responsible such as:

  • a Solicitor
  • a trusted friend
  • Next of Kin
  • the Executor of the Will
  • the Public Trustee.

Alternatively, you may wish to start calling the companies in the list below to enquire if they are aware of any Pre-Paid Funeral contract being held in that person’s name:

Pre-Paid Funeral Legislation (by State)

New South Wales

Funeral Funds Act 1979
Funeral Funds Regulations 2011

NSW Office of Fair Trading
Tel: 13 32 20
www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

Queensland

Funeral Benefit Business Act 1982
Funeral Benefit Business Regulations 2010

QLD Office of Fair Trading
Tel: 13 13 04
www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au

South Australia

Fair Trading (Pre-Paid Funerals Code of Practice) Regulations 2011

SA Office of Consumer & Business Affairs
Tel: 08 8204 9777
www.ocba.sa.gov.au

Tasmania

Prepaid Funerals Act 2004

TAS Office of Consumer Affairs & Fair Trading
Tel: 1300 654 499
www.consumer.tas.gov.au

Victoria

Funerals Act 2006

VIC Consumer Affairs
Tel: 1300 558 181
www.consumer.vic.gov.au

ACT
NT
WA

In WA and the territories there is no specific legislation relating to Pre-Paid Funerals – individual pre-paid contracts stipulate the manner in which the funds are to be invested on behalf of the client.