October 2, 2017
My wife and I are approaching eighty and contemplating the advantages of funeral plans which promise to reduce burdens for the surviving partner and for our family living in the UK.
However, I am disconcerted by recent news – fast spreading in Jávea – of a resident who purchased plans for his wife and himself in 2015 and passed away this year whilst visiting UK.
When his family called the relevant bereavement number in Spain they were told that the company had no known funeral directors in Newcastle and “to make their own arrangements”!
The shock can scarcely be imagined: an elderly lady in a strange city, on probably the worst day in her life, learns that all the promises and assurances upon which they had relied were entirely worthless.
Four months later the widow has just received a refund.
Many of your readers must be involved in funeral plans and may be wondering – as I now am – what recourse they might have if, in their hour of need, the plan is revealed to be worthless. Is there no organisation in Spain which exerts control over the funeral plan business?
Dear David. We have consulted on expert on this and here is the reply:
Unfortunately, in Spain there is no governing body, unlike the UK which is very carefully monitored and governed. In the UK, there is the FPA, which is the Funeral Planning Association, and the NAPFP, which is the National Association for Pre-paid Funeral Plans. When taking out a plan in Spain, it is always worth checking that the company you are dealing with are registered in the UK with one or both of these bodies. This then gives you some recourse if something like this happens. If the company is not a member of a UK governing body, then there is not a great deal the individual can do. They could, of course, take out a civil action in Spain against the company in Spain, but this will be in Spanish and costly. If the company that sells the funeral plan does have a UK office, then they will have funeral directors they work with in the UK. Then if a person purchases a plan in Spain, but decides at some point to move back to the UK, they are able just to transfer their plan with them and a UK funeral director will be nominated. Or, in the case of this incident, they would nominate a funeral director at the time of death in the town the person has died in.