Posted by Jill Kerby on October 25 2016 @ 09:00
FUNERAL COSTS ARE A SHOCK GRIEVING FAMILY CAN BE SPARED
Funerals are not something most of give too much thought to, at least not until you reach more advanced age (than I am now, for instance) or unless you’ve suffered a recent, close bereavement.
Recently the father of a close friend, who happens to be Brazilian, died. He was quite a young man but in keeping with their funeral traditions, he was buried within 24 hours, without a formal funeral. Family and friends gathered a week later for a memorial service.
This is quite foreign to the way we bury our dead in Ireland. Our ritual of holding a wake at a funeral home or in the person’s residence, then the removal church ceremony and finally the church service and a gathering for tea or lunch with close family and friends is, for us, at least, a tried and tested way to deal with loss and grief. When mourners have to travel any distance, as so many of our immigrant family do, the funeral process can be protracted.
It can also amount to quite an expense, as a new survey from Post Insurance (www.postinsurance.ie) a subsidiary of An Post revealed.
The Post Insurance Funeral Price Index shows that while the standard funeral cost in Ireland is €4,052 plus the cost of a burial plot or cremation. The cost of a “standard coffin” can range from a high of € 2,000 in Kerry and Laois to a low of €1,177 in Waterford. A standard coffin in Dublin will cost an average of €1,750.
The burial plot, depending on what part of the country you live in, can add many thousand more euro to the bill, depending on where you live. It explains how cremation has grown in popularity.
Also, while the €4,052 accounts for the cost of Removal and Care of the Deceased, Embalming, Removal to Church / Cemetery, Hearse, Funeral Directors Fee and Coffin, it does not include what are known as ‘disbursements’ – the Church Offering, Priest, Music, Obituary Notice. The three most expensive counties for disbursement costs are Laois (€1,440), Galway (€1,242) and Dublin (€1,177), while Kerry, (€470) and Limerick (€573) were the least expensive.
The highest quote for a ‘standard’ funeral is in Co Tipperary at €6,310 (which might surprise those of us living in greater Dublin where everything is usually more expensive) and the highest average cost was €5,000 in Co’s Sligo and Clare. The least expensive standard funeral is available (€3,408) in Co Wexford.
A double sized grave plot can cost €32,000 in Deansgrange Dublin, while the same double plot in Shanganagh, Dublin was quoted at €5,600.
There are three ways to pay for a funeral and all its costs - €10,000 or more is not an atypical price, readers tell me (especially if a grave plot has to be bought or even opened.) You can:
- Plan ahead and take out an insurance policy (Post Insurance offers one worth up to €30,000 in benefits), use an existing one, or consider a funeral package during your lifetime. Many funeral homes sell the latter and take instalment payments.
- Your family can pay for it out of their own pockets and reclaim it from your estate, if you have so designated, or from their own bequest left in your will.
- Or the money can be borrowed from a bank or credit union. Some funeral homes will accept instalment payments.
Today many more Irish people are choosing simpler, ‘humanist’ funeral services, often held in the funeral home or crematorium ‘chapel’. These can also include comparatively eco-friendly cardboard or willow coffins and cremation, cutting out a number of the biggest expenses that Post Insurance itemised.
It certainly makes good sense to either assign apportion of your long-term savings (perhaps in the Post Office) or from a small life insurance policy to pay for the kind of funeral you would like to have. It isn’t an easy subject to face, or to discuss with loved ones, but it does alleviate some of the stress that comes with bereavement, especially the financial concern of how the funeral related expenses will be paid.
Leaving a written instruction – sometimes known as a Letter of Intent – with your closest loved one (a spouse, adult child, best friend or family solicitor) will be an important guide for them (even if it isn’t a legally binding document, like a Will).
If you are going to go to be considerate enough to pre-fund and provide a funeral plan, then you should also write a legal will and make sure your executor knows where to find it too. Older people – and retiring is as good a time as any to do this – should also draw up an Enduring Power of Attorney. This document sets out your care wishes in the event you become mentally unfit to deal with your own affairs prior to your death. As your solicitor will explain, It will prevent you becoming a ward of court.
Do you have a question for Jill? Please email her directly at email@example.com or write c/o this newspaper.