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

Depending on how you have chosen to pay for your funeral plan, your money will be paid directly into The Golden Charter Trust or used to buy a life assurance policy. If paid into the the Trust, your money will be held there until needed to pay the funeral director who performs your funeral services.

Is all my money held by the Trust, or do you deduct any sums to pay commissions or expenses?

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 £200 is paid to Golden Charter.  The deduction of these expenses does not affect your guarantee.

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

The Trust is a distinct legal entity from Golden Charter. This means the Trust’s assets are entirely separate and your money is ‘ring fenced’. The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees which is required, by majority, to be completely independent of Golden Charter. The money paid by all plan holders is carefully invested for the ultimate benefit of the selected funeral directors when payment is required for maturing plans.

Can the value of my money in the Trust fall?

A Golden Charter funeral plan is not an investment product that fluctuates in value or on which you earn interest. In return for your payment, you receive a guarantee of service at a price fixed now for the future service.

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.

My plan brochure says funeral plan costs are increasing well above inflation; will there be sufficient money in the Trust to pay my funeral director at the time of need?

In recent times funeral costs have increased by more than consumer inflation. However, your selected funeral director has guaranteed that he/she will not charge any more for the services associated with your plan. 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, at a level at least equivalent to the annual percentage increase in the consumer price index (CPI).

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

The Trust does not contact to individual planholders. 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.

If my circumstances change, can I get a refund of the money I have paid 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 your plan by instalments, please refer to the terms & conditions of your plan. 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?

Nobody “owns” the Trust. The Trust is an entity constituted to safeguard planholders’ money until the time of need. The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees who are legally responsible for holding the assets for the benefit of beneficiaries. 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 existing Board, following which the successful applicant is chosen.

Is the Trust regulated by the Government?

Funeral plans are not financial products and so are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA). However, 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 2018 was £1,031 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 2018 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 audited 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 my money in the Trust, 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 my money in the Trust 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. As part of its investment portfolio, the Trust owns an office building in Glasgow, which is leased on an arm’s length basis on a full repairing and insuring lease, to Golden Charter. The Trust’s full time employees are based at this office. Location and contact details are given here.