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

Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

Junior Research Analyst - Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £25K: SThree: SThree Group has been well estab...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform