Thursday 17 January 2019

Wages of death: would you have a budget funeral?

Thinkstock Images
Thinkstock Images

The words might conjure up images of a Ryanair-style service, where you pay to have a seat in the crematorium or to place a flower on the coffin. But for some families, Legacy Funerals, established by John Murphy in 2011, has meant that they can afford a service for their loved one.

"Funerals are an expensive business," says Murphy. "Funeral directors have staff, vehicles and considerable overheads, but we offer a short service and a crematorium. We wanted to do this without sacrificing on quality."

The basic cost is €1,250, and for this money, dress and transport the body, provide a basic coffin, legal and medical certificates, and crematorium arrangements. Cremation costs are separate and usually start at €550. Families may choose to hire a limousine, pay for death notices or arrange a reception, which will cost extra, while burial is significantly more expensive than cremation.

Legacy has been awarded the Q Mark, which is widely accepted as a sign of standards. "We get families who don't have the money to provide for a lavish funeral. We help families who want to repatriate the deceased to their home country but can't afford the costs and so have a cremation here before bringing the ashes overseas for a memorial service. And sometimes we get calls from social workers in hospices and hospitals: the deceased person didn't have any family left, but the staff still want to give them a good send off. It's still our job to care for and support the bereaved."

David Fanagan is a director with Fanagans funeral directors, which has been in business for almost 200 years and has passed through six generations of his family. He explains that funeral directors will charge for embalming the body, transportation, hearse and limousine costs, and the provision of the coffin.

"Basic charges generally start from around €2,500 and, depending on what the family wants, will rise to between €5-7,000 at the higher end. Separately, there are the disbursements, which include the grave purchase and opening fee or the cremation fee and then options such as charges for death notices, floral tributes, soloists, organists and church offerings."

Disbursements are optional but most families want a good send-off their loved one, even if they can't quite afford it.

Mary Cuniffe, president of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors and a branch manager at Massey Brothers funeral directors, says that every funeral director should go through all the essential and optional costs in writing and make sure every item is understood and agreed.

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