Peace of mind pledge for life’s only certainty

PEACE OF mind in readiness for the only certainty in life is being offered by a new venture in estate planning in the Algarve.

It comes as a result of knowing, as a British or other expatriate living in this favoured part of the world, that the cost of your funeral and the arrangements for your farewell have all been both planned and paid for ahead of the event – hopefully years ahead.

An individual’s wishes are observed and put into place immediately following death and the need for family or friends to become involved in local requirements, legalities and practices is all but eliminated. That’s the pledge of Steve Nelson, managing director of SPN Funeral Plans, who has set up an Algarve-based organisation in Lagoa following the success of a similar venture in Spain.

He told The Resident: “Funerals here can sometimes be conducted within 24 or 48 hours of death, which is so different from your home country. It is not usual in this part of the world for funerals to be conducted before family members have been notified or had time to fly in for the ceremony.

“Pre-planning ensures this cannot happen. It also means that by pre-paying for funerals at today’s rates, the cost is fixed at the outset with nothing else to pay in the future, which is a sensible and substantial saving for the estate and dependents.

“Bearing in mind that funeral costs are currently averaging around 2,500 euros and are rising at up to 10 per cent a year, the cost by 2010 could be averaging in the region of 16,000 euros.”

Steve points out that funeral plans are, therefore, inflation-proof. They are not insurance and so do not require any further payment once the initial cost has been met, and even that can be extended over an agreed period of up to five years.

The practicalities of the scheme are simple, according to SPN. Steve continued: “Once a plan has been secured, the individual’s wishes are retained on a database and only activated when the time comes by one telephone call to a 24 hour helpline in English. The details are shown on a credit-type card, which is held by the next of kin or whoever has been nominated.”

The plans, which are primarily based on cremation, allow time to be built in so that relatives can travel to Portugal for a funeral service. And if death occurs abroad, the plan can include arrangements to transfer the deceased back to Portugal. Transfer of the ashes from Portugal to the UK – or any other country – can also be covered.

Algarve team

Steve Nelson added: “Arrangements have been made with a leading and highly experienced undertaker in the Algarve to ensure that the service, when it is required, is the best we can provide.

“In setting up the locally-based organisation, which is underwritten and fully secure, we have received a great deal of support from key organisations and individuals, which we greatly appreciate. We have also brought together an excellent Algarve team – Sally Dawson, Judy Sharp and Mary King – each of them particularly well-known for their existing expertise, who will be able to explain the options carefully and with sensitivity.

“They will never apply pressure or sales tactics. It is up to the individual or couples to decide for themselves on this, one of the most personal of matters. But we are talking about the one certainty in our lives…and the way we deal with it while we can instead of leaving it to our nearest and dearest to cope with after we have gone.”