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

Unless you have chosen to pay for your funeral plan by fixed monthly payments, your initial payment and any monthly instalments will be paid directly into The Golden Charter Trust. Your money will be held in the Trust until needed to pay the funeral director who performs your funeral services.

Do you deduct any sums to pay commissions or expenses from the money I paid for my plan?

The terms & conditions of your plan state that a sum to cover initial expenses (currently £249) is paid by the Trust to Golden Charter. When you buy a Golden Charter plan other than directly from a funeral director, an additional £250 is paid to Golden Charter.  The cost of these expenses is borne by the funeral director and does not affect the guarantee of services from the funeral director under your plan.

How is the money I paid for my plan safeguarded in the Trust until it is required to pay for my funeral?

The Trust is a distinct legal entity from Golden Charter and its assets are held entirely separately from Golden Charter. Therefore the money you paid for your plan is ‘ring fenced’. The money paid by all plan holders is invested for the ultimate benefit of the selected funeral directors when payment is required for performing 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 funeral services at a price fixed now for the future services.

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?

When you buy your plan, your selected funeral director guarantees that he/she will not charge any more for the services associated with your plan at the time of need. It is the aim of the Trustees to increase the amounts due on 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.

Will the Trust keep me regularly informed on the safeguarding of my money?

The plan provider, Golden Charter, is the main contact for plan holders. 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 have paid for you plan in full, you will be refunded your money less any applicable cancellation fee. If you are paying for your plan by instalments, please refer to the terms & conditions of your plan for details of your entitlement to a refund of monies on cancellation. When your cancellation is processed by Golden Charter, the appropriate sum will be refunded to you directly from the Trust.

Who owns the Trust and how is it managed?

The Trust is an entity constituted under the terms of a Trust Deed to safeguard plan holders’ 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. 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 Government?

Pre-paid funeral plans are not currently regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA). However, the Government have recently announced plans to bring the pre-paid funeral plan sector under the auspices of the FCA.

Golden Charter is a registered provider of the Funeral Planning Authority. The FPA check that all registered providers abide by a set of Rules and a Code of Practice. The Rules require the use of a trust (or an insurance company) for holding plan holders’ money. The Trust Deed requires the Trustees to comply with the rules of the FPA.

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

The net asset value of the Trust at 31 March 2019 was £1,126 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. In addition, a full Actuarial Review is undertaken each year at 31 March by Barnett Waddingham, one of the UK’s leading actuarial consulting 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.

Is there enough money in the Trust to pay for all future funerals?

The most recent full actuarial valuation at 31 March 2019 showed that the Trust’s assets represented  over 100% of the funds required to meet future funeral costs covered by the plans in the Trust, allowing for increases in funeral costs in line with future levels of inflation as measured by the consumer price index.

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.

Is Brexit an issue for the Trust?

The Trustees do not consider that the issue of Brexit will have any significant impact on the Trust.

Does the Trust prepare and publish statutory accounts?

The accounts of the Trust and its subsidiary, The Golden Charter Trust Limited, are prepared annually and are audited by Grant Thornton LLP. The subsidiary company’s accounts are lodged at Companies House. 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 safeguarded in the Trust and held until the time of need. You would also retain the right to cancel your plan subject to the terms & conditions of your plan. The Trust would continue as long as is necessary to make payments for all plans as they mature.

What would happen to the money I paid for my plan if my selected funeral director ceased trading?

If your selected funeral director ceased trading your money would remain safeguarded in the Trust. In such circumstances, you could choose another funeral director from the many independent funeral directors who accept Golden Charter plans. Alternatively, you could simply ask Golden Charter to reallocate your plan for you. The original terms of your plan would remain unchanged, subject to the new funeral director’s acceptance. You would also retain the right to cancel 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.