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Uncovering the hidden cost of dying

Posted on 27 October 2014

See the latest average funeral cost figures

The emotional and financial price being paid by the bereaved today

Our 2014 Cost of Dying Report reveals the cost of dying is about more than just money, highlighting the emotional as well as financial burden left on many bereaved families across the country.

The upfront costs when we die

There’s no doubt, dying is an expensive business. The average cost of dying – made up of basic funeral costs, professional estate administration and extra touches - now stands at £8,427, up over 10% on last year and a rise seven times the rate of inflation.

With the funeral alone making up over 40% of this figure, it’s a sad reality that more and more of us are struggling to find the money to pay the funeral director’s bill.

The hidden costs we don’t always plan for

Look beyond the one big cost of organising the funeral and you’ll find many other costs that could be passed on to those we leave behind.

If we don’t have plans in place, the person left to handle our affairs can be faced with unexpected bills and a sudden, hefty demand on their time. All this to suddenly contend with on top of trying to cope with their loss and take care of their own lives.

In fact, our research found that 38% of people had to pay for a bill out of their own pockets, with 24% having to pay energy bills from their loved ones’ address and 23% spending over £100 on petrol or public transport – with no guarantee they’ll be reimbursed from the estate. And almost a third of people have had to take at least five days paid or unpaid leave from work to deal with the administration of the estate.

A little understanding can be priceless

Unfortunately, businesses don’t always help to ease a bereaved family’s distress at an emotionally challenging time. Nearly one in five of the people administering an estate agreed they’d experienced distress due to the treatment they’d received from companies whilst taking care of their loved one’s affairs; with almost half feeling companies could do better in this area.

Whilst plenty of businesses are doing a good job, common negative experiences included repeatedly asking for the deceased in correspondence and calls; adopting a ‘debt collecting’ approach and requesting obscure or unclear information.

Here at SunLife we’re committed to improving the experience of bereaved families when dealing with their loved ones affairs and understand it’s often the small changes that make the biggest mark. That’s why we’ve created a straightforward manifesto setting out the simple things that we, and other companies, can do to make a big difference to people at an emotionally draining time:

Blog - Funerals - Infographic showing SunLife's four-point manifesto for simplifying things for bereaved families
Blog - Funerals - Infographic showing hidden financial costs of dying

The difference plans can make

Thinking ahead will also make a big difference. Putting some plans in place while we can, will ease the financial and emotional strain on your nearest and dearest when it matters most.

With a funeral plan you can pay towards your funeral and make some of the arrangements, leaving them with less money to find and a clear idea of what you’d like. Getting your finances in order and making a Will, will also make sorting your affairs far more straightforward and less stressful when the time comes.

And finally, don’t forget to tell the people who need to know what you’ve done. It may not be something you want to do, but the conversation only need happen once and everyone will feel better for knowing.

You can read our funeral planning guide to find out all you need to know about making funeral plans.

You can also read our guide to Wills to find out everything you need to know about making a Will.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd. Golden Charter Ltd are not required to be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority in relation to funeral plans but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

If you choose to pay for your funeral in one go, with a single payment, you will have a contract with Golden Charter. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

If you choose to pay for your funeral with a life insurance policy, the policy will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.