It's your funeral, so plan for it

Once we can accept that we won't live forever it's a short step to paying upfront for the big day, writes Stephen Spurdon

Most people prefer not to think about their deaths, or pretend to be immortal. Quentin Crisp told visitors to his sickbed the week of his death to put him in a plastic sack and chuck him out with the rubbish. But Jose Luis de la Orden, a retired television technician, has planned his funeral down to the last detail and paid for it in advance. "I want to put a smile on people's faces with my funeral," he says.

Around 300,000 funeral plans are taken out every year. At any age you can buy a simple funeral plan for around pounds 1,500. The money goes into a trust, so if you live for another 20 years or more your partner/family does not have to pay a penny for your funeral because it is already paid in full.

Mr Orden, 53, says that the starting point for this financial planning decision came with the arrangement of the funeral ceremony for David, his partner of 15 years, who died in July 1995. "We all have to confront our own death," he says. "By executing my boyfriend's wishes I got the confidence to plan my own funeral. Eventually I really understood I would have to die sooner or later and I realised that I wanted to visualise how my funeral would be."

Mr Orden got in contact with SCI Funerals, one of the big pre-paid funeral companies. A company rep visited him. "I saw a picture of a hearse being drawn along by horses," says Mr Orden. "I discussed what I wanted and the colours. I find coffins very off-putting, so I requested that the coffin be laid on top of two plinths and the whole thing covered in a blanket of red velvet and masses of white flowers. There will be a limousine and the hearse will be driven by four pure white Belgian horses with white plumes on their heads. There will be no black. The guy driving the horses will be casually dressed in grey. But he must be the most attractive, handsome man they can find and he must be cheerful."

The funeral plan, Dignity from SCI Pre-arrangement, cost pounds 3,429.30. The basic cost of SCI Pre-arrangement's three plans range from pounds 1,040 to pounds 1,960 as a lump sum or paid monthly over 12 months. Spread over 60 months, however, the total cost ranges from pounds 1,200.60 to pounds 2,262.60.

"The customer's cash is invested in the National Funeral Trust," said Peter Wills, head of business development at SCI Pre-arrangement, part of the SCI Group.

"This invests 35 per cent in government bonds, 60 per cent in UK shares and the remainder in cash. SCI Funerals has an arrangement with SCI Pre- arrangement that it will produce funding for all Dignity members come what may."

Examples of other funeral plans include Age Concern's, offered in association with SCI Pre-arrangement, which provides a choice of three plans with funeral director services guaranteed at today's prices. The costs range from pounds 1,060 to pounds 1,735.

CWS Funeral Services provides three pre-set funeral packages as part of its Co-operative Funeral Bond. This offers three levels of service from pounds 1,090 to pounds 1,670. This can be spread over 12 months at no extra cost, or up to 60 months for an extra charge. All these plans include such items as doctor's and clergy costs and burial or cremation fees.

There is also a Funeral Ombudsman Scheme, which is mainly concerned with the funeral service itself, but does deal with some complaints. Check to see if the funeral planning company you deal with is a member of the scheme.

So, Mr Orden has planned his own funeral. But David had his say in what is to happen to Mr Orden's remains: "David's last request was that his ashes be kept and, when I died, for my ashes to be mixed with his," he says.

"I had the problem of what to do with the ashes. I am going to buy a magnolia tree that will be kept in a large pot in which the ashes will have been mixed with the earth, so eventually, we will have been buried together under a big magnolia tree."

You can't get more life-affirming than that.

n Contacts: SCI Pre-Arrangement (Dignity funeral service), 0800 387729; National Association of Pre-Paid Funeral Plans, 0121-711 1343; Funeral Planning Council, 0141-942 5855; Funeral Ombudsman Scheme, 0207-430 1112; Co-operative Funeral Bond, 0800 289120 or; Age Concern Funeral Plan, 0800 387718.


The most popular funeral choices

1 Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On

2. Elton John Candle in the Wind

3. Bette Midler Wind Beneath my Wings

4. M People Search for the Hero

5. Frank Sinatra My Way

6. Gerry and the Pacemakers You'll Never Walk Alone

7. Englebert Humperdinck Please Release Me

8. Elaine Page Memories

9. Frank Sinatra Strangers in the Night

10. Art Garfunkel Bright Eyes

Source: Co-operative Funeral Services

REX/Eye Candy
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

DevOps Engineer - Linux, Shell, Bash, Solaris, UNIX, Salt-Stack

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: A fast growing Financial Services organisation b...

Trade Desk FIX Analyst - (FIX, SQL, Equities, Support)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: An award-win...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?