What happens to my money when I buy a funeral plan from Golden Charter?

When you buy a funeral plan from Golden Charter you pay the plan price directly to the plan provider, Golden Charter Limited. After deducting their fees as set out in the plan T&Cs, Golden Charter Limited pay the balance into The Golden Charter Trust. The funds remain in the Trust until needed to pay the funeral director who performs the funeral services under your plan.

Why is my money held in the Trust?

A funeral plan provider such as Golden Charter must either use your money to purchase a contract of insurance or arrange for your money to be held on trust. Golden Charter use a trust arrangement with the Golden Charter Trust.

The Trust is a distinct legal entity from Golden Charter and the Trust’s assets are held entirely separately from the assets of Golden Charter Limited. Therefore the money you paid for your plan is ‘ring fenced’ over the term of your plan. The monies paid by all customers are invested by the Trust until needed to pay the funeral directors who performs the funeral services of maturing plans.

Can the value of the money I paid for my plan fall while held in the Trust?

A Golden Charter funeral plan is not an investment product that fluctuates in value or on which you earn interest. When you buy a plan, you receive a guarantee of the funeral director services contained within the plan being provided at the time they are required, however far into the future that may be. The overall value of the Trust Fund can rise or fall but this does not impact on the guarantee of the funeral director’s services under your plan, or on your cancellation rights.

Will there be sufficient money in the Trust to pay my funeral director at the time of need, allowing for inflation?

The monies paid by all customers are invested by the Trust until needed to pay the funeral directors who performs the funeral services of maturing plans. It is the aim of the Trustees to increase the value of outstanding funeral plans that will be paid to funeral directors at the time of need, on an annual basis to mitigate the impact of inflation. Each year, Golden Charter Limited instructs an independent Actuary to prepare a Solvency Assessment Report of the Trust to determine if the assets of the Trust are in excess of 100% of the liabilities for the outstanding funeral plans of Golden Charter Limited. This report is published on the website of Golden Charter Limited.

Will the Trust keep me regularly informed?

The plan provider, Golden Charter is the main contact for customers. However, the Trust’s website is regularly updated in order that full information on the Trust is always available. You can also contact the Trust directly by completing the form on the “contact us” section on the website and we will be happy to reply to any questions you may have about the Trust.

If my circumstances change, will I be able to get a refund of the money I paid for my plan at any time?

If you cancel within 30 days of receiving your plan documents you will be refunded the full amount you have paid. For details of cancellation terms after 30 days, please refer to your plan documents.

If you contact Golden Charter Limited, they will be happy to explain your specific cancellation details.

The Trust reimburses Golden Charter Limited for the refund amounts paid to customers by Golden Charter Limited.

Who owns the Trust and how is it managed?

The Trust is an entity constituted under the terms of a Trust Deed to hold customers’ money until the time of need. The Trust is not owned by a company, individual or by shareholders. The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees who are legally responsible for holding the assets for the benefit of its beneficiaries. In performing their duties, the Trustees take appropriate advice from carefully selected professional advisers.

Who are the Trustees and how are they selected and appointed?

Details of the current serving Trustees can be found here. The Trustees are all experienced, successful business people from a wide range of backgrounds. Trustees serve a maximum of ten years. When a new Trustee is to be appointed, a shortlist of suitably qualified candidates is identified and interviewed by the serving Trustees, following which the successful applicant is chosen.

Is the Trust regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority?

The pre-paid funeral plan sector is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) from 29 July 2022. The Trust is not directly regulated by the FCA, but Golden Charter Limited, as the plan provider, is authorised and regulated by the FCA and must comply with a strict set of rules which govern funeral plans backed by independent trusts.

What is the current value of the Trust and how is it valued?

The net asset value of the Trust at 31 March 2023 was £1,182 million. Annual accounts are prepared each year at 31 March and audited by Grant Thornton, one of the UK’s leading audit and accountancy firms.

What types of investments does the Trust invest in and who do they invest with?

The Trust holds a diversified portfolio of investments which includes index-linked gilts, global equities, diversified growth funds, multi asset credit, long lease property, infrastructure assets and cash. Full details of the current underlying investment managers can be found here.

What is the Trust’s policy on ESG?

ESG considerations are an integral part of the agreements we sign with the professional investment managers appointed to look after our investments on a day-to-day basis. We require to be satisfied that each investment manager has an ESG policy which is appropriate to their mandate and we further require that each manager demonstrate, at least annually, that the policy has been followed.

What would happen to the value of the Trust if there was a major stock market crash?

The Trust is carefully managed on a prudent basis. The investment strategy is based on a long term view and designed to cope with short term market fluctuations. The Trust’s investment advisers regularly undertake ‘stress testing’ exercises to show the impact on the Trust’s value of a combination of extreme market conditions. The results show that even an unlikely combination of negative events would not fatally damage the financial strength of the Trust. During the stock market turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust continued to pay, in full, all sums due under maturing funeral plans.

Does the Trust prepare and publish statutory accounts?

The accounts of the Trust and The Golden Charter Trust Limited are prepared annually and are audited by Grant Thornton LLP. The accounts of The Golden Charter Trust Limited are filed at Companies House and published on our website. In addition, a consolidated statement of the Trust’s net assets at 31 March each year is published on the Trust’s website.

What would happen to the money I paid for my plan if Golden Charter ceased trading?

If Golden Charter ceased trading, your money would continue to be held in the Trust until the time of need. You would also retain the right to cancel your plan and receive a refund subject to the terms & conditions of your plan. The Trust would continue as long as is necessary to make payments to funeral directors for all plans as they mature.

What if Golden Charter failed and the Trust’s assets are insufficient to cover the liabilities for outstanding funeral plans?

In such circumstances you may be entitled to compensation subject to FSCS limits (currently £85,000 per individual plan holder with some exceptions) or the FSCS may instead arrange for continuity of your plan through another authorised funeral plan provider as an alternative to compensation. Please refer to the FSCS website www.fscs.org.uk for further information.

What if my chosen funeral director can’t perform my funeral?

If the funeral director can’t perform your funeral, Golden Charter will select another funeral director to carry out your funeral arrangements as detailed in your plan.

Where is the head office of the Trust?

The Trust’s head office is in Glasgow where the Trust’s full-time employees are based. Location and contact details are given here.

How can I contact the Trust?

Contact details for the Trust are given here.