Funerals can be expensive, especially for families on a low income. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can get help paying for your loved one’s send off.
When it comes to forking out for a funeral, many families experience stress and financial strain. The average funeral costs around £4000 but loved ones can find themselves paying even more depending on the type of funeral and burial requested by the deceased.
Sometimes the deceased will have a funeral plan or have left provision in their estate which will cover the cost of the funeral.
But if the burden falls to relatives and friends, there are some ways to get assistance in funding the funeral:
The Children’s Funeral Fund
If you are burying a child younger than 18 – and are in England, Wales or Scotland – you will not be charged fees for a standard burial or cremation by your local authority1. This includes the burial of a stillborn child or fetus. You will, however, have to pay for fees charged by the funeral director, florist and memorial venue.
In England, the local authority will also make a £300 contribution towards the cost of the coffin, casket or shroud. The contribution can be claimed either by the funeral director or yourself.
Did You Know?
If you are eligible for certain low-income benefits, the Social Fund may cover other funeral expenses.
Public Health Funerals
If you’re unable to cover the cost of a funeral at all, your local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral. To qualify for a public health funeral, you must be able to show that the deceased did not leave enough money in the estate to cover the costs, and that there are not relatives or fiends who are able to arrange the funeral.
Public Health Funerals are usually a cremation, and extras such as flowers, cars and notices are not included. You will be able to attend the funeral, but the date and time will be decided by the local authority.
The government offers a scheme for those on low income, who are receiving certain benefits, to offer help with the funeral costs. The Funeral Payment requires you to pay back the government back with any inheritance you receive from the deceased’s estate.
The Funeral Payment covers costs such as death certificates, cremation fees, travel costs, funeral director’s fees and flowers. However, you may have to over up to a third of the funeral costs, even with the Funeral Payment.
In a nutshell:
You are eligible for the Funeral Payment if you receive benefits such as Housing Benefit, Income Support, Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit.
Pre-Paid Funeral Plan or Insurance
In some cases, the deceased will have provided for funeral expenses through a pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance.
A pre-paid funeral plan is usually arranged with a funeral director or a funeral plan provider and makes provision for a specific type of funeral. You may wish to check what is covered by the funeral plan before making arrangements, as these plans don’t always cover all the expenses associated with a funeral.
On the Other Hand:
Funeral insurance, sometimes called an Over 50s Plan, pays out a fixed lump sum to cover funeral expenses. The funds can be used to pay for any type of funeral and any funeral director. It’s a good idea to check the value of the payment before making any plans for the service.
Paying with the Bank Account of the Person Who Died
If the deceased has left savings in their bank account, this could be used to pay for the funeral. You’ll need to approach their bank or building society, often with the help of the estate’s executor or administrator, with a death certificate and invoice for the funeral expenses. The bill will usually be settled with the funeral director.
Keep in Mind:
You shouldn’t access the deceased’s accounts, even if you have their PIN or online banking log-in, as this could lead to legal complications. Rather work through the bank, unless you have a joint account with the deceased.
Paying by Instalments
Most funeral directors will ask you to front some money for the funeral arrangements. If this is not possible, you may have to simplify the arrangements to reduce the expense. Alternatively, you could request to pay the costs in instalments. If the funeral director agrees to instalments, make sure to negotiate a payment plan that is affordable for you.
Claiming Funeral Costs from the Estate
If you pay for the funeral, you have the option of claiming back the costs from the deceased’s estate. The funeral costs are usually paid before other debts are handled, unless they are secured debts such as a mortgage.
However, the estate may not be large enough to cover funeral costs, so it’s worth checking with the executor or administrator if you’ll be able to recover your costs.
A Few Common Questions
Covering the costs of funeral may seem daunting, especially if you are under financial strain. However, there are several support services you can access to assist with funeral costs.