Seniors have welcomed a landmark court case awarding the full cost of a funeral service to the family of a woman who took out a funeral bond more than 60 years ago.
The decision today by Beenleigh Magistrate Joan White in Queensland could set a major precedent and help allay any fears of other people who believed that their funeral costs had already been taken care of, said National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill.
“People need the reassurance that their loved ones will not face extra costs - which can amount to thousands of dollars - at a time when they are coping with the stress of bereavement,” O’Neill said.
“If funeral companies issue funeral bonds which people are paying into in good faith, then the companies will have to honour them.
“This decision will come as a relief to thousands of older Australians and their families.”
Today’s court decision was handed down after Gold Coast couple Gavin and Fiona Turner refused to pay a bill for $7,195 for a 2012 funeral for Gavin’s mother Beryl.
The Turners said the cost of the funeral had already been covered through a prepaid agreement Beryl had started with Alex Gow Funerals in 1948.
The company sued Mr and Mrs Turner on the grounds that the £25 paid to the company between 1948 and 1980 was not enough for even the most basic of funeral services today.
Alex Gow Funerals offered the family a $390 discount but Beenleigh Magistrate Joan White found the decades-old agreement should be honoured.
O’Neill said that around 19,000 other Queenslanders had reportedly signed up to the same agreement and they would rightly expect their funeral bonds would be honoured or if they had already paid for a funeral, that they may receive some recompense.
“People have a right to expect they will get what a funeral company has been promoting,” he said.
“The issue has been around for some years now, so perhaps it is time for the corporate watchdog ASIC to take a closer look at regulations governing the funeral industry and the products it offers.”