Data Protection, Wills and Pre-paid Funeral Plans


Data Protection, Wills and Pre-paid Funeral Plans

Often I set out to write a topic that not only has interest but information or facts that are possibly, not widely known.

Unfortunately, I find it hard to stay ‘on track.’
Similarly, when I set out to accomplish a task, I tend to go off at/on, tangents. I might add that these deviations are not without energy, they are positively fired and much is accomplished. Mostly, the end target, which was the starting point, is also achieved.

One of my worst situations constantly, is to find a window in time or rather, a window of time.
If I see the chance of punctuality offering a five-minute early arrival, I will ‘find’ a job that fits into the interval – unfortunately, the five-minute job always takes longer and I become late for my appointment.
I should clarify that these are not funeral appointments or client meetings – more of a family or lesser priority demand arrangements.

My family know me well and would be in total agreement with my writings so far, hopefully, with a smile!

Getting to the point, I start an article and somehow, it seems to conclude with mention of the wisdom, in my opinion, of a pre-paid funeral plans.

As the subject is covered elsewhere comprehensively on this and our other websites, I will not repeat those articles here but as I prepare to write on the subject of Wills and to an extent, PoAs – Powers of Attorneys, my own experience regarding my mum’s Estate which my brother and I recently, ‘proved,’ coupled with the recording of Pre-planned funerals, led me to a valid point regarding the (UK) Data Protection Act.
I also know for a fact that other major civilised countries (I can’t say I actually know any ‘uncivilised’ countries?) also have data protection though the name differs, so this article remains applicable.
Anyhow, the question is this: where do people record the locations of their Wills and/or funeral Pre-paid plans?
The answer varies of course but generally, the next-of-kin or, more aptly the Executors, don’t know.

Sensibly, a search of local solicitors should produce a result – you’d think?

We can easily imagine this task would not be as easy as first thought. Some countries actually have a voluntary register for Wills and no doubt, for a fee, can be accessed.
Unfortunately, in the UK, solicitors will NOT release any information concerning their clients due to the Data Protection Act, apart from numerous security, moral and other reasons - in short, you’re ‘hooped!’
How about those funeral pre-plans?
Again, no definitive answers but if the deceased lived locally for a number of years, it follows that a pre-paid funeral plan would also be taken out with a local funeral director.

So, will the funeral director divulge the information?

I’m sure we can clearly see that the answer is NOT a danger or security risk persé and, it is possible business for the funeral director if no plan exists.
If that particular funeral director, ‘holds’ the plan, how can ‘he’ answer that he cannot reveal the information when clearly, the deceased engaged the services of that particular provider.
The only time the funeral director might be elusive, is in order to gain business but our principle is to be honest to the public whether they engage us or a competitor - the ‘PR’ aspect is in place apart from our duty to provide a service of information to people in difficult circumstances and IF, a plan turned-up later, how exactly would the funeral director’s position be explained?

Fortunately, with Golden Charter, the largest provider of pre-paid funeral plans to the independent sector of funeral directors, a ‘credit card’ type of record is supplied to the customer which can easily be carried in a wallet or placed where other important documents are filed or kept; I carry mine and my wife’s (she is younger than me), in my Passport wallet with my UK (EU?) Drivers Licence. My children KNOW this.

Other documents (eg. a Certificate) are also provided for customer records and a comprehensive database allows funeral directors to search names and addresses for information and to establish current plan values with the help of Golden Charter staff.

Articles on Wills will follow but mention is made here that all my articles are written with the best of intention and as such, are researched stringently but their accuracy is not a point-of-law or intended as such. They are composed on general guidelines and not definitive works for use in legal debate or presentation. They are written by a funeral professional but as a layman. It is hoped that members of the general public find them helpful, sometimes, hopefully amusing but mostly, informative and useful.
Terry Shoobridge

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