Saying goodbye to a loved one is a difficult experience that can be made worse by poor funeral planning.
Every year in the UK, around 500 000 people pass away. This number is expected to increase by almost 100 000 over the next two decades, due to the ageing population. Losing a family member is a trying experience without having to navigate funeral planning and many families experience stress and worry over the rising costs of funeral arrangements.
Funerals in the UK are some of the most expensive in Europe, and the cost has increased significantly over the last few years.
On average, you will pay around £3,757 for a funeral and approximately £4,267 for a burial. Should you opt for cremation, you’ll have to fork out in the region of £3,247.
These estimates include a basic funeral and third party fees, but you may still have to pay in for additional expenses such as the headstone, flowers, cars and hosting the wake.
These are just some of the cost you can expect to pay:
Funeral Director Fees
Most funerals in the UK are arranged through a funeral director. Depending on your choice of funeral plan, most of the funeral arrangements will be covered by the fee charged by the funeral director. This will usually include the coffin, a hearse and staff, mortuary facilities and supervising the arrangements.
The funeral director will oversee your arrangements for the funeral service, but fees for their services vary.
Ask your funeral director to provide a detailed list of the costs involved. This will allow you to compare with quotes from other funeral plan providers.
Third-Party Funeral Costs
Any costs aside from the funeral director fees will be managed by your funeral director and compiled into an invoice. These expenses are usually referred to as external or third-party funeral costs.
External costs, such as cremation or burial fees, often make up more than half of the total funeral costs. It would be best to account for the cost of erecting a headstone, although this does not have to be erected immediately after burial.
Third-party fees will be vastly different depending on where you live and what funeral arrangements you request.
Standard third-party funeral fees include:
Burial services are usually pricey in the UK. The fees linked to burial services typically cover the funeral service’s cost, the minister’s fee, the burial plot, preparing the burial site or grave, and the Exclusive Right of Burial.
Should you choose cremation instead of a burial, you will also have to pay certain external fees. These fees include the cost of the cremation document and certifications, the use of a crematorium, and the internment or permanent storage of ashes.
Some funeral arrangements are considered optional, and the fees for these are named optional costs. These extras include catering, venue hire, flowers, limousine hire and a memorial, among others.
Who Pays for Funeral Costs?
Funerals come with a hefty price tag and can easily leave family members feeling confused and overwhelmed. While some families can easily access funds to bury a loved one, many families struggle to cover the costs.
The deceased’s estate
Sometimes the deceased will have already paid for the funeral or have made provision in their estate to fund it. The estate’s executor will cover the funeral costs in this case, or a friend or family member will be able to pay for the funeral and claim the money back from the estate.
Most banks will make money available from the deceased’s account to provide for the funeral expenses if you’ve got a certified copy of the death certificate. Should there be a shortfall of funds in this scenario, the family or person organizing the funeral will have to cover the difference.
On the Other Hand
If the deceased doesn’t have any money or a funeral plan, the local authorities can be approached for assistance. Your hospital or council can arrange for a Public Health Funeral1, often referred to as a pauper’s funeral.
There are, however, strict criteria for a Public Health Funeral and they are only held if there is no alternative. You will have to show that the deceased doesn’t have enough money in his or her estate to pay for the funeral and that there are not loved ones who can arrange the funeral.
A Prepaid Funeral Plan
Those who have made arrangements for settling the costs of their funeral usually have prepaid funeral plans. A funeral director administers the funeral plan, and the deceased’s family will have to work with that director to organise the funeral.
However, many funeral plans only cover some of the costs involved in a funeral. If you’re organising a funeral, you may have to chip in to cover some costs. It’s worth checking what is covered by the funeral plan before you start making arrangements.
Keep in Mind
There is no database to check if your loved one has a prepaid funeral plan. You’ll need to check their documentation for details on their funeral plan and may need to approach their bank or solicitor for the information.
If you need help paying for a funeral for your loved one, there are government support programmes for which you may be eligible.
There are two main programs that could assist you:
Funeral Expenses Payment
You may be eligible for government funeral grants, such as that offered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), if you are a partner, parent or close relative of the deceased. You also have to be receiving certain qualifying benefits to be eligible.
The DWP funeral expenses payment offers a one-off grant for low-income earners who receive specific government benefits. This grant is unlikely to cover the entire funeral cost, and you may still have to contribute up to a third of the bill. The grant will cover burial fees, travel and transport expenses, cremation fees and documentation.
Did You Know?
You can claim the Funeral Expenses Payment for 6 months from the funeral date, but you may be required to return the money if it is found the deceased’s estate has enough to cover the cost.
Bereavement Support Payment
You can also access funeral grants from the DWP the form of Bereavement Support Payment2. The grant is a one-off, tax-free lump sum designed to assist widowed spouses in adjusting to their lower household income.
You can access this program even if you aren’t eligible for other government benefits, although the amount you can access will depend on your National Insurance contributions. Applicants also need to be under the age of State Pension.
A Few Common Questions
Funerals can be an expensive responsibility to leave your family. However, there are ways to ensure your loved ones will be left with the funds they need after your death.