It’s inevitable that we all hit a certain age, whatever age that may be, when we start to think about our plans for retirement. Some of this can seem obvious, such as a pension, for which money has been set aside for many years before retirement, or even making a Will. But how many people also consider making financial provisions for their funeral as part of this later life planning?
It’s perfectly understandable that discussing your clients’ funeral plans is a sensitive subject to address. As your clients may not have this at the forefront of their mind they will look to you to initiate the conversation.
In practice, however daunting it may seem at first to bring up the subject, it can be as simple as discussing a client’s financial provision for their funeral in the wider context of their estate planning.
There are significant financial and emotional benefits for your client in planning their funeral ahead of time. Many of these benefits are experienced by the loved ones they leave behind, and the knowledge their funeral is taken care of. Less burden on their loved ones offers comfort and is the final piece of assurance they can give.
A funeral plan is also one of the few products that most clients can benefit from in the future – so it’s not a ‘maybe’ product, it’s a ‘definitely’ product. By explaining how a funeral plan works, your clients will understand the practical value this has compared with other options they may have considered, some of which were discussed in a previous article.
Starting the conversation
Not every client will book an appointment specifically to discuss a funeral plan. So, how do you raise the subject in the first instance?
A new client – it’s a great opportunity to talk the client through the relevant portfolio of products you can offer them, including funeral plans.
Life insurance and related products – this is perhaps an indication that your client is planning for their future, providing financial security for their loved ones. This is an opportunity to make your client aware of the benefits of a funeral plan, including protection for their loved ones from any increase in funeral costs and will help safeguard their family’s inheritance.
Writing or making changes to a Will – the start of, or a change to, a client’s legacy planning may be the result of a life change. It may mean the client has additional family members they’d like to make provision for, or their proposed executor may have passed away. Any changes in legacy planning can provide an opportunity to talk to the client about their later life financial planning as a whole.
Some examples of questions you could use to initiate the conversation with your client are:
Tell me about the arrangements you have in place to combat the rising cost of funerals…
Average funeral costs rose by over 4% a year between 2011 and 2019*. How does that compare to the interest you currently get on your savings?
Many people are pre-paying for their funeral to save their loved ones money at a later date. What arrangements do you have in place?
Whilst everyone will inevitably need a funeral, hopefully your clients won’t be needing theirs for a long time. Regardless, it’s important to explain the benefits of putting something in place now to make sure they are protected further down the line, using questions such as
Who will eventually arrange your funeral?
Who will ultimately be responsible for your funeral arrangements?
Where will the money immediately come from to pay for your funeral when the time comes?
Any questions you ask your clients should be open to provoke further discussion and interaction.
Avoid asking questions which easily give your client the opportunity to disengage, such as:
Would you like to discuss funeral plans today? Client: “Not really”
Have you heard about funeral plans? Client: “I’m not interested”
Handling client concerns
It’s important to acknowledge that your client will look to you with any concerns they may have. How you handle their concerns makes all the difference.
Some possible concerns you may come across are as follows:
I don’t want to think/talk about it
No one likes to think or talk about their own funeral. Probe further to find out a bit more about why your client feels this way and establish if there’s any other reason they wouldn’t consider a funeral plan. Talk to them about what’s important to them and relate that back to the benefits of a funeral plan, such as helping their family or reducing the burden on their children as they get older.
I have plenty of money/a large estate
Recognise that your client clearly has more than enough funds to afford a funeral when the time comes, that they’ve clearly worked and saved hard over the years to be in that position. Talk to them about how important it is to them to maximise their legacy for their family. Do they have children and grandchildren that they’d like to inherit their estate? Establish whether there are any other reasons why they wouldn’t consider a funeral plan and emphasise the benefit of freezing the cost of the services included in their plan at today’s prices.
I want to discuss it with my family first
It’s important for anyone purchasing a funeral plan to make their family aware that they’ve made this type of provision, and to appoint a funeral arranger to work with the funeral director in the event of their passing. It’s also important to talk to your client about how they would feel if their family were against the idea. Sometimes the wider family don’t want to discuss death or funerals as they don’t want to think of the reality of their loved one passing away. Remind your client that the reason they’re considering a funeral plan is to protect their family in the future. Suggest an appointment at a later date for them to come back with their son or daughter so that you can answer any questions they may have.
A trusted partnership
Dignity prides itself on being there to help people at one of the most difficult times of their lives. It does this with compassion, openness, care and respect. But perhaps most importantly, the service provided comes highly recommended by the families that Dignity serves – in fact, 98%^ said that they would recommend Dignity to friends and relatives.
As standard within its partnership model, Dignity combines a high quality proposition with competitively priced funeral plans and the highest standards of customer service.
With a dedicated relationship manager, having expertise in the financial services and funeral markets, you’re fully supported from the start. Dignity also provides training either remotely or face to face.
If you’re interested in joining Dignity’s partner network, get in touch. Simply click here and one of Dignity’s Relationship Managers will contact you.
^Dignity plc Annual Report and Accounts 2019
*Matter Communications independent research, average annual compounded growth rate of 4.43% each year between 2011 and 2019.
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