Freeman Brothers has been established as a funeral director in West Sussex since 1855 and has sold prepaid funeral plans for over 30 years. Here, Manager of Freeman Brothers, Abi Pattenden, who is also responsible for compliance with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA’s) regulatory regime for prepaid funeral plans, tells us more about the company’s new direct cremation plan, which was introduced in October 2023.
Freeman Brothers has offered a tiered and a tailormade funeral plan for many years. We have always responded to client feedback in the creation of our plans and the tiers have always been intended to cater to most requirements, with the tailormade plan option providing a product for: those clients whose funeral wishes either exceed the most complex tier or are simpler than the most basic; who require components outside the standard inclusions (perhaps an American casket or a horse-drawn hearse); or who wish to purchase only monumental masonry.
Compliance with FCA regulations involves ensuring we take client feedback into account when considering whether we should launch a new product and what the features of such a product might be. Recently, Freeman Brothers has seen a notable increase in clients wishing to purchase a prepaid funeral plan suitable for direct cremation (also sometimes referred to as an ‘unattended’ cremation or by the brand name ‘Pure Cremation’, though many providers now offer this service whether or not they are affiliated with the ‘Pure Cremation’ brand). While this was always available as a tailormade plan option, this recent upswing made us feel that it may be time to introduce a product specifically for direct cremations to help make the process simpler and more accessible for clients.
It is beyond the scope of our remit to speculate on the reason for this increased trend, though much research has been done within the industry to try and explain why direct cremations have become more popular in recent years. As responsible regulated providers, we simply respond to an identified demand by ensuring that products our clients are asking for are provided at the best value we can reasonably offer, making our offering client-centred rather than profit-focused.
The process of designing a funeral plan product must be gone through meticulously. We needed to assess the components included in (and excluded from) it to ascertain a reasonable selling price as well as researching comparable products from other providers to establish fair value for the customer. We also had to consider the possibility of any foreseeable detriment to purchasers and introduce reasonable mitigation to ensure such detriment could be avoided.
After going through this process, Freeman Brothers introduced our direct cremation plan at a price of £1900.00 in October. As with all our products, the plan includes:
- Advice and help to whoever needs to arrange the direct cremation when the time comes
- Collecting the deceased person from where they die, as long as this is in mainland Great Britain
- Preparation and care of the deceased person
- A coffin, as specified
- The required staff and transport
- Collection of ashes from the crematorium
We also include the necessary costs to third parties, in this case the crematorium fee and a doctor’s fee for cremation (if required). As with all of Freeman Brothers’ funeral plans, the costs are guaranteed, which means that we will never ask for further payments towards the plan’s inclusions, regardless of any inflation in the interim: not all funeral plan providers offer this same guarantee.
Some providers may only make a contribution to third-party costs or may only allow them to increase by a certain percentage or value over the plan’s lifetime before they require extra contributions to be paid. These plans may be cheaper at the outset, but then there may be additional costs at the time it is redeemed. A prospective planholder should decide whether their needs are better met by a fully guaranteed plan (which may cost more to purchase initially) or one without a guarantee, which may be cheaper to buy but incur costs for whoever arranges the funeral when the time comes. Freeman Brothers cannot advise you on this, or any other aspect of your purchase, but we will give you all the information you require to help you in your decision-making.
Our direct cremation product has some specific exclusions which are important to consider. These cannot be added to the package under any circumstances, and are:
- Visiting the Chapel of Rest
- Collection of donations
- Accepting floral tributes
- Choice of crematorium, or the date and time of the direct cremation
- The ability to add items at the prevailing rate
- Costs related to the cremated remains, other than their collection
- Monumental masonry (such as a headstone)
- Costs related to any commemorative events that representatives may choose to hold
As with all direct cremations, there will be no funeral service and no option for anyone to attend. We suggest that any direct cremation planholder ensures that their wider circle of friends and family knows they have planned a direct cremation with no funeral service. Some people can find it hard to accept that there may be no commemoration of a life. Having such a conversation enables preferences to be clearly understood. It also gives the opportunity to check other preferences outside the scope of the plan, for example organising an informal get-together might be welcome even if a formal funeral service is not.
As mentioned, assessing the value of the direct cremation plan and being able to declare this value is part of the process of creating it. Freeman Brothers wants to ensure that customers who choose to pay for their funeral in advance receive good value in comparison to buying an equivalent funeral at the time it is purchased. Our prepaid funeral plans are priced to be cheaper, or cost the same as, an equivalent at-need funeral provided by Freeman Brothers. In the case of our direct cremation plan, these costs are as follows:
Price of direct cremation plan: £1900.00
Equivalent at-need direct cremation cost: £1933.00
Difference: the prepaid plan is £33.00 cheaper.
Other prepaid funeral plan providers may offer direct cremation products at different costs, which may be cheaper than the product offered by Freeman Brothers. Prospective planholders should ensure they understand the differences between the products and how these affect the purchase price. For example, a different provider may charge less for their plan, but there may not be the option to arrange the funeral in person when the time comes- this may or may not be important to the customer. By contrast, a plan from another provider might cost more, but this might include the option to pay in instalments over more than ten months (which is something Freeman Brothers does not offer). This may make it more suitable for someone who cannot purchase the plan upfront and wants to spread the cost over several years. Freeman Brothers’ salespeople- all of whom work in the main funeral business- can provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Freeman Brothers is committed to responding to the needs of our local customer base and providing prepaid funeral plans in line with the feedback we seek and the research we undertake; our direct cremation plan is a further demonstration of this commitment.
For more information about our direct cremation plan, please click here, or for information on all our prepaid funeral plans please visit our web page, email email@example.com or contact one of our offices.
Freeman Brothers is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of prepaid funeral plans. FCA registered number 962064.