There are rules for funeral directors to follow to help consumers compare funeral packages or manage a pre-paid funeral contract.
Funeral directors must:
- be transparent with their pricing,
- not make incorrect or misleading statements and
- not offer unfair contract terms or engage in unfair market power.
Consumers must be able to access prices for all funeral services and packages available from a funeral director so they can easily compare costs of a funeral.
The funeral checklist will help you organise a funeral service. It is not an exhaustive list but a helpful guide.
A pre-paid funeral is a funeral contract plan paid for in advance with a selected funeral director. A pre-paid funeral contract covers all the details of the funeral service and costs.
Any pre-paid funeral contract entered into after 1 March 2021 must comply with the Pre-paid Funerals Code of Practice. The following information covers some of the rules funerals directors have to follow under the code.
What should be covered in the contract?
The contract should cover how much and when you will need to make payments. Check how much the product will cost you over the long term. Find out what the rules are if you stop paying, and when the company will not make a pay-out.
What happens if the:
- funeral director closes down
- recipient dies before paying the contract off in full
- contract is cancelled
What happens to the money when you purchase a pre-paid funeral?
A funeral director must forward payments (excluding any fees) to an investment manager within 16 days of receipt of the payment.
Investment managers can be:
- life insurance companies;
- friendly societies;
- licensed trustee companies; or
- the Public Trustee (Western Australia).
The funeral investment must be in the client’s name and can only be released after funeral agreed to in the pre-paid funeral contract has been carried out.
Can the funeral director increase the price of the funeral?
No. The cost is fixed unless both parties to the contract agree to vary it, for example if an additional service is required.
If someone requests additional services after the pre-paid funeral recipient has passed away, this will be separate to the original contract and may incur additional costs.
If I bought a pre-paid funeral before 1 March 2021, is it covered by the Pre-paid Funeral code?
No, the code will only apply contracts entered into from 1 March 2021.
How is a pre-paid funeral different to funeral insurance or funeral bonds?
- Pre-paid funeral contract guarantees to cover the full amount of the agreed funeral.
- Funeral insurance is an insurance product under which you agree to pay a premium. This premium covers an agreed amount paid out at the time of death.
- Funeral bonds are an investment product to help you financially plan for a funeral. The amount you pay will be invested up until the time of death when they will be paid out.
Organising a funeral myself
If you do not want to use a funeral director to organise the funeral, you can apply for a single funeral permit, see the Metropolitan Cemetery Board (MCB) for more information.
Helpful resources for consumers
- Funeral services - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- What to do when someone dies - CHOICE Consumer Advocacy Organisation
- Apply for a death certificate - Western Australian Government
- Death of a loved one - Services Australia
- Bereavement payments - Department of Veteran’s Affairs
- Metropolitan Cemetery Board
- Paying for funerals - MoneySmart
If you have a complaint with a funeral director and cannot resolve it directly with them, you can contact MCB by phoning 1300 793 109 or email.
When contacting MCB, have the following information ready:
- The name of the deceased, the date of funeral, the name of the administrator;
- The date, time, location, manner of the issue of complaint (i.e. in person, at funeral, over the phone, etc.);
- Exactly what happened and why you wish to make a complaint; and
- What resolution you may be after.
If you are having problems with a pre-paid funeral product you have bought, talk to a financial counsellor. They offer a free service to help you sort out money problems.
You can also email the Consumer Protection contact centre or call 1300 304 054.
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