Monday 2 January 2017


UK & Nigeria

The Good Funeral Guide 

Why You Need a Funeral Plan

Your loved ones will be devastated at your passing, and the last thing you want is to leave them with the burden of struggling to pay for your funeral when you pass. Benjamin Franklin is said to have once lamented death and taxes are life’s only certainties. He was not mistaken. 

Planning for a funeral is not something that any of us look forward too. Though not the most pleasant of topics; ensuring that you have paid into a funeral plan will relieve your family and friends of the responsibility of financing your funeral while grieving your loss. You will feel relieved knowing that you have taken care of the arrangements ahead of time and are fully prepared, should it come to the worst.

There are many reasons why you may want to secure a funeral plan. One of them we just talked about: not wanting to leave a financial setback for your family.

Another is protection against the ever climbing cost of having a funeral. A plan will lock your contribution in at today’s rates and is guaranteed to be there to cover the inevitable.

Having a plan also removes any doubt as to your last wishes for the ceremony. This is yet another reason to obtain such a plan is to dictate the details of your funeral. If you desire to have a traditional Islamic burial, it is especially important to make sure that your funeral plan will cover the costs associated with the aspects of an Islamic funeral. Some plans only cover certain aspects of a burial, so you will need to ensure that the plan you choose covers the kind of funeral you prefer to have. If you’d like to eliminate any confusion over how you want to be laid to rest, a funeral plan will outline your preferences and be used to arrange your burial when the time comes.

You may also wonder if you can obtain a plan for someone else. Well, you certainly can. One option is to pay into a plan with the name left blank, so that it can be used by any of your family or whomever else you choose to use it for.

Do you feel prepared right now? If not, then now is the time to start taking steps to take care of your future and not leave a hassle for your loved ones. 

What is a Funeral Plan?

A funeral plan is a fund that protects you and your family from the rising costs of burial, and to avoid uncertainty as to the desired last wishes of the deceased. Given the high emotional tension surrounding the passing of a loved-one, a funeral plan alleviates some of the stress by taking the financial and ceremonial planning burden off those left behind. The contributions you make to a funeral plan are secured in a trust fund that is only accessible when the death occurs. The family of the deceased individual need only call the provider when this happens to set the funeral arrangements in motion.

A funeral plan is a good way to exercise some form of control over the unexpected. It spares your loved ones the stress of financing your funeral without the necessary funds. One popular type of funeral plan is the prepaid plan. It allows you to make a contribution to the plan at today’s prices so that loved ones will not have to pay extra after your passing due to rising rates.

How to Obtain a Funeral Plan

Applying for a funeral plan is fairly simple. You can do so from home, if you wish, online, by phone, or through the mail. You can choose to make a lump sum payment, or monthly installments. Each plan covers different things, so review your choice carefully to ensure that you are satisfied.

You can obtain one through a funeral plan provider or a funeral director. Check with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) to find a list of registered funeral directors and providers in the UK. Haji Taslim Funerals specifically provides plans for Muslim funerals, which may ease the pressure of finding a general funeral plan that will cover all aspects of an Islamic funeral. Many Islamic funeral providers operate as part of family-run businesses, which you can locate online or through the following organizations:

     National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD;

     Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF;

In Nigeria, you can contact institutions such as The Funeral Lady Palace, Apams Ltd, Mazonia Funeral Services, and others to obtain a plan. They will walk you through the options and process of obtaining a plan suitable to your needs. Specific information regarding plans is available on their website, plus they may also be contacted by phone. With Nigeria’s stronger Muslim presence, you may find that the funeral plans offered already cover the aspects of an Islamic ceremony. Do ensure to review the fine print before selecting a plan, just to be sure.

Typically, a plan covers the costs of the funeral director’s services, as well as complete or partial contribution to burial costs. Some may cover the costs of the religious service, viewing, and transportation of the deceased, while excluding the burial plot itself and decorations. Don’t purchase a plan until you have fully reviewed all the details and ensured that you will get all the coverage you need. 

Your plan is also where you dictate how you would like the service to proceed. Should you desire a certain song be played, reading be recited, verses be recited from the Holy Book, etc. this is where you would add that detail. For an Islamic funeral, this is important, as you may include instructions for a traditional burial here. Usually you can adjust this later on, if you wish.

When the time comes to use the plan, your loved ones will only need to contact the provider to activate the plan. A funeral director will guide them through the process of arranging the funeral. There usually will not be any additional paperwork as the plan is used to pay the funeral director fees. However, always read the fine print to ensure that the details of the plan are just as you want them to be.

Average Costs of Funerals

According to a local report in the Funeral Arrangement’s Guide, the average cost of a Nigerian funeral is just under $10000 US. This price includes fees for the director and staff that cover the basics of funeral planning, such as obtaining needed permits and certificates, housing the body, and coordination with the cemetery or crematory as needed. It also covers other optional services, such as embalming, a ceremony or viewing at the funeral home, a hearse or limousine, casket or urn, and so forth. Finally, there are the cash advances required by Nigerian funeral homes for any goods or services they source from others for you, such as flowers, a minister, musicians, etc. Depending on the kind of funeral you wish to have, the cost can be as low as $1000 US or as high as the stated average. In the UK, the cost for the average funeral is about the same, at a little below $10000 US, or 7600, according to an article in the Daily Mail UK.

Your funeral plan will likely not cover every single aspect of your funeral, but it should cover a healthy portion of it, at the very least. With most funeral plans, you can choose to make monthly installments over a period of time (generally up to 10 years), or make a lump-sum payment. It's generally best to pay for your plan as quickly as you can, to avoid running up higher interest and administrative charges. Try to pay for your plan in a year or less, if you can.

Choosing a Funeral Plan

While making your decision, think about how your family would fare financially after your passing. The funeral plan covers only the cost of your funeral, so remember to keep the bigger picture in mind. If your family finances are such that your estate can comfortably cover the cost of a funeral, a basic plan is all you may need. Spend some time comparison shopping before you make a final decision. A good way to do this is to use a comparison website to get an idea of what your options are. However, do not select a plan until you have called and discussed with the providers to talk about their offers in depth and you are satisfied with your final selection.

Here is an example of a funeral plan comparison, offered by Dignity Funeral Services (


To view the rest of this comparison, please click here. At the end of this plan, this particular funeral plan provider outlined what is not covered by one of their plans. They included medical certification fees, embalming, the burial plot and headstone, flowers, and the costs of catering and a viewing. Repatriation is not covered, and neither is the cost of removing pacemakers and artificial limbs the deceased may have had. They also stipulate that special request may be entertained, and if so, may also incur extra charges. This is why it is very important to review the details of a plan carefully before settling on one.

There are several questions you should ask a funeral plan provider before buying into one. For example, there is the obvious: what is included in the plan? Find out how much leeway you have with changing the details of the plan, and if there are any additional costs attached to doing so.

Also, you should know about cancellation policies and charges. You never know if you may want to cancel the plan. Also ask about the funeral director: can you choose your own? What happens if they go out of business? For an Islamic funeral, you may also want to know if a non-standard funeral service can be arranged under the plan.

There are financial questions you should ask as well. What policy does the plan have regarding a death that occurs abroad? What happens if you or the intended recipient passes away before the plan is completely paid? How is the plan handled if it covers both you and a spouse, but you then decide to separate? What are the maximum and minimum terms over which you can pay into the plan, and how much interest do the various options attract?

Whatever plan you choose, be sure to have a separate written record of the arrangements and preferences you have selected, so that there is a backup in case anything goes wrong.

What Happens if Death Occurs Abroad?

Funeral plans taken out in the UK will apply to funerals held in the UK. Although your funeral director may assist in arranging repatriation, it will be the responsibility of your family or your travel insurance plan to finance this.

If there is a high likelihood that you will be abroad at the time of your passing (you travel often or spend extensive amounts of time overseas), then it is in your best interest to obtain travel insurance that will cover the cost of sending your body back home should that unfortunately be required.

Find out from the funeral director if they would be able to assist your family in collecting the insurance payment and arranging transport of the body, should it become necessary. It may prove helpful and be an emotional relief for your family. Just remember those costs will not be covered by a funeral plan.

What Happens, if Death Occurs before Plan is Paid?

If you choose to pay your plan by installments, there is a chance that you could pass away before the plan is fully paid. In this case, the funeral will still be arranged, however whoever you have chosen as your personal representative will be responsible for paying the outstanding balance. Depending on how much of a contribution you have already made, this is, at least, better having your family need to come up with all of the funds for the funeral.

However, this is one reason why it’s important to pay for your plan entirely as quickly as possible. The longer you take to pay for your plan, the more you open yourself up to leaving a burden for your family, as well as incurring further costs in the form of interest and service fees.

In some cases, your representative may be able to cancel the plan entirely, resulting in a refund of all payments made to the plan purchase or the plan holder’s estate. Be sure to speak to your plan provider about the details surrounding this. They may simply require that the balance be paid by your surviving representative.

Alternatives to a Funeral Plan

Do you have to buy a funeral plan? Not necessary. Other alternatives include a life insurance policy, funds obtained from your estate, or, of course, a traditional savings account. Like anything else, they each have their pros and cons.

An over-50s life insurance plan can be beneficial to individuals who cannot pay for standard life insurance due to their medical conditions. It does pay out a lump sum at the time of your death, but that type of plan doesn’t increase the payout to match inflation, which could result in very high premiums.

Now, you could go with a regular savings account. The plus here is that you earn interest on the money you store there. However, this interest income may not be enough to keep up with the rising cost of funeral services, thus causing your loved ones to have to make up the difference. Also, you’ll need to grant a trusted family member or other individual access to the account for it to be used following your death.

Finally, you can have funeral expenses paid from your estate. Upon presentation of the funeral director’s bill and a copy of the death certificate, the bank will typically release the funds.

Funeral Regulations & Required Documents

The UK government stipulates that upon the death of any individual, a death certificate be obtained and the death be registered, generally within 5 days of death. The death is to be reported to a coroner (by you or a doctor) who must then approve registration. Only after registration will you be provided with the documents needed to arrange the funeral.

This may pose a challenge for an Islamic funeral as the documents cannot be received in time to hold the funeral the following day. You may need to use an online death registration tool, if possible, to register the death yourself.

Once the body has been released, you can contact a funeral director to arrange the funeral. To ensure that you are assisted by an ethical director, choose one who is a member of one of the three following organizations.

     National Federation of Funeral Directors

     National Association of Funeral Directors

     Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors

Obtaining a Death Certificate

There are a number of ways to obtain a death certificate when someone passes away. It depends on the circumstances of the death, as we will discuss below. If the death occurs at home, in a hospital or care home, abroad, or suddenly in another place, certain steps should be taken as soon as possible.

If the death occurs at home, a medical physician should be called immediately. A physician will be able to issue a medical certificate outlining the cause of death right away if the death was anticipated. However, if the cause of death is unknown, they will not be able to do this and the death will be reported to a coroner and the body transported to the nearest hospital mortuary, where a post-mortem may be carried out. Call emergency medical services if you do not have a family physician available. In any case, once a medical certificate is obtained, the nearest kin or the individual in charge of the funeral should take it to the nearest Birth, Death and Marriage Registrar to obtain a death certificate.

The process is similar should the death occur in hospital, only that a physician will definitely be available to issue the medical certificate for you to take to the registrar. They may wish to conduct a post mortem, but it is not usually mandatory. Now, if a sudden death occurs for which no cause is clear, it must be reported to a coroner immediately, who will decide if the post mortem is required or not. If not, they will issue a notification that should be brought to the registrar, however if one is required, then a death certificate cannot be obtained until that is complete.

Let’s spend a little time on handling deaths abroad. The death will need to be registered in the country where it occurred, however some countries also allow you to register with UK authorities as well. Bringing the body back to the UK will require a certified English-language copy of the death certificate, and permission from a coroner, if one was involved. Once the body has arrived home, bring the death certificate to the local registrar office, where you will receive a certificate stating no liability to register. The funeral director will need this to proceed with the arrangements.

The actual procedure to register a death must be performed by a relative, if one is available. Others are permitted to do so, only in the absence of next-of-kin. The process includes:

     Making an appointment with the registrar’s office, or making a formal declaration in any registration district if a trip cannot be made

     Presenting the medical certificate stating cause of death and all personal details of the deceased (including full names, date and place of death, address, other names they have gone by, date and place of birth, marital status, information about their partner, and their occupation.

     The individuals NHS and/or medical care number may also be required, perhaps at a later time.

     A series of questions regarding the individual.

Following this process, if all is in order, the registrar will issue a death certificate and any other necessary documents.

Handling Finances after Death

Although you will no longer have the worry, it is your responsibility to ensure that your loved ones are aware of how to handle your finances after you pass. Typically, the government will require any taxes such as inheritance tax, in particular, to be paid before any remaining funds are distributed to your beneficiaries. This tax is on the cash and property of an individual who has passed away. Your representative should ensure that this is paid within 6 months of your death, or it will begin to attract interest charges. The amount is 40% of the amount above the first 325,000 worth of your estate.

After that, there is income tax to consider. Your estate will either owe tax, or be eligible for a tax refund. Your personal representative should contact the HM Revenue & Customs to handle the adjustment of tax calculations. In fact, there are services in the UK that will allow your representative to inform several government agencies at once about your passing. These services are known as Tell Us Once and Bereavement Service, depending on your particular location. The agencies will direct your representative from there with instructions on completing your tax return, paying tax on any income received by your estate, such as rent, and other monies, such as savings and investments, both local and foreign. A Self Assessment tax return will likely be necessary.

Be sure that your representative knows to notify your insurers and creditors of your passing as quickly as possible, ideally within a month of your death. These include banks, societies, credit card companies, insurance companies, pension administrators, utility companies and any other entities that you had financial dealings with. This can be done either by phone, or by visiting local branches. In some cases, it can be handled online as well. Your representative will need a copy of the death certificate and the contact details for the executor of the estate. In fact, he or she will need several copies of this for the various entities who will need to see it. Plan for this in advance by ensuring that they are aware of the need for several copies when your death is registered.

Is There a Will, or Isn’t There?

A Will should be a vital part of your overall future planning. If you haven’t obtained one, best get to it right away. If you do not, the government will decide where your money, property, and belongings go. And that is not something you want.

Your Will is something you can write yourself, if it’s straightforward. However, if it is complicated, then seek professional assistance from a lawyer. Regardless of the method you use, the Will needs to be witnessed and signed formally to make it a legally binding document. Once done, updates will need to be made as official alterations called “codicils” or a new Will written altogether.

What should go in your Will?

First, you should outline who gets to benefit from the Will. Also, if you have children under 18 years of age, you will need to specify who should take care of them. Finally, appoint someone to manage your estate and carry out your last wishes after your death. This person is known as your executor.

Speaking of executors and your estate, let’s talk about how your estate will be managed in the presence of a Will, and compare it with what happens if you do not have a Will.

If you have made a Will, your executor will have the responsibility of receiving probate and sorting out your estate. The probate is a legal document that officially allows that person to begin the work of sorting out your estate. It is sometimes known as a grant of representation or confirmation. It isn’t always necessary if your executor is your spouse and hold joint accounts with you, they may be able to go ahead without this. It also applies if your estate doesn’t involve property and shares, or if your bank account balance is considered small. In that case, your executor will simply need to inform the bank that you have died, and produce the death certificate if requested.

To receive probate, the executor may either go through a probate specialist, or fill out the forms him or herself, for a lower cost and with legal responsibility for ensuring that all claims are accurate. He or she will need at least six (6) copies of your Will, and any codicils and letters of wishes, your death, birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates. A valuation of the estate will also be required.

Upon receiving probate, your executor can then go on to pay off your debts and taxes, and distribute the remainder of your estate, if any.

Now, if you do not have a Will at the time of your death, you will be known as a ‘dying intestate’. Sorting out your estate will not be impossible, but it will be far more complicated. The government will ultimately decide who inherits what according to what are called ‘intestacy rules’.

If a family member or friend is willing to sort out your estate, they can apply for probate and become an administrator of your estates, granting them the ability to value your estate, pay debts and distribute the remainder. However, they will be bound by the intestacy rules, which may not be to yours or your beneficiaries liking. Due to this, it is strongly recommended that your executor make use of a probate specialist to navigate this process under the limiting rules. This will be quite expensive, unfortunately.

Paying debts and taxes under these rules is simple, as they would be going to the government in either case. However, any remaining estate will have to be distributed according to the intestacy rules. In most cases, any spouse or civil partner still legally married to the deceased will inherit the estate. Children may also inherit part of the estate if it’s worth enough to accommodate this. Other close relatives may or may not inherit a portion, depending on the location. All regions have different rules for deciding who gets what. Do yourself a favor and make a Will to have your estate divided according to your wishes.

Funeral Alternatives in the UK & Nigeria

Several alternatives exist to the traditional funeral consisting of classic casket, limousine, and church service. Many individuals are opting for alternatives such as cremation, woodland burials, and organ donation as ways to dispose or repurpose the bodies they no longer need. Cremation is currently the most popular alternative, which leaves behind only a small amount of ash that the family can choose to keep or scatter. Green or woodland burials are quickly rising in popularity in the UK, and involve a more natural, warm ceremony that lays the deceased to rest in unique caskets made of bamboo, willow, cardboard, or other biodegradable materials. Organ/body donation is a highly cost effective funeral alternative that suits individuals who would rather not have a burial at all, and aren’t interested in cremation either, choosing instead to donate their bodies to medical use or scientific research after death.

Islamic Funerals in the UK

Islamic funerals involve the whole Islamic community, including leaders and beyond the immediate family. If death is expected, the family gathers nearby, to aid in the individual in passing over by seeking forgiveness of any wrongs. To go about an Islamic funeral in the UK, the family should call emergency medical services immediately after the death if it occurs at home. If in a hospital or care home, the body should not be moved until a death certificate is obtained. Upon request, permission can be obtained from the funeral home to obtain the body for washing and performance of other necessary Islamic rituals. Embalming and autopsy is prohibited by Muslim law and must be avoided unless absolutely required by UK law. It is important to source needed items and have them available before they are needed for a burial, as many things may be difficult to locate in non-Muslim regions. Liaising between local Muslim leaders and the director and staff of local funeral homes should result in a successful ceremony.

Islamic Funerals in Nigeria

In Nigeria, Islamic burials are much easier to go about than in the UK. Islamic families bury the deceased with their heads toward Mecca. The dead are buried almost immediately, before the next sunset and no casket is needed as coffin made of some fabric can be used. Prayers are always made to ensure that the deceased passes smoothly into the afterlife and doesn’t come back to haunt the family. Other traditions vary from regions to region. Nigerian women wear bright color that contrasts with the more well known tradition of dark clothing and unassuming styles worn by Muslim women elsewhere and a Nigerian funeral may involve more emotion and celebration than Islamic funerals elsewhere. Western influences have effected some changes where the dead are not always buried immediately, typically due to financial constraints and some people may prefer to use caskets instead of fabric coffin.


Funeral planning is much more than simply putting aside a sum of money for your burial. It involves selecting a funeral plan that will adequately cover the costs of your final departure, in addition to making a will, and ensure that you appoint an executor and beneficiaries to make the process of handing your estate and finances after your death that much simpler. It isn’t the nicest of things to plan for, but your family and friends will definitely appreciate you taking the time to sort things out ahead of time.


This blog is a guide. Those who partake in the opportunities this blog offers, do so at their risk. You are advised to do your findings before embarking on any activities.

No comments:

Post a Comment