Last updated 21st May 2019
1 in 8 families find it difficult to cover the funeral costs of a loved one
How much does a funeral cost?
The average cost of a funeral is now £4,417*, which covers professional guidance from a funeral director, cremation or burial, coffin, hearse, collection and care of the deceased; along with a doctor and minister or celebrant.
Since 2004, the average cost has increased by 130%. With funeral prices constantly increasing, it’s hardly surprising that more and more people are finding it harder to pay for their loved one’s funeral and seeking help with funeral costs.
And as the average cost of a funeral doesn’t include any memorial service, flowers, order sheets, catering, or memorial stones, you can see how the costs can quickly spiral.
The cost of dying 2020 report shows that these additional costs alone can rack up to over £2000, which can come as a shock if you’re unprepared.
Use our funeral calculator to see how much the average funeral in your area costs.
Who pays for a funeral?
In some cases, the deceased may have put plans in place to pay for their funeral, such as a prepaid funeral plan, or they may have enough funds in their estate to cover the costs.
If they do have the money in their estate, often the deceased’s loved ones will have to cover the costs first and then recoup the money afterwards.
If the person who’s died doesn’t have the funds in their account, or hasn’t left any provision in place to assist with funeral costs, it will be down to their loved ones to cover the costs.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and need advice but don’t know where to start, our helpful tool helps you better understand what to do when someone dies.
What happens if you can’t afford a funeral?
If you can’t afford the cost of a funeral, your local council can arrange a ‘pauper’s’ funeral also known as a Public Health Funeral.
Thousands of these are carried out each year for those who have passed away and are unclaimed by relatives, or died alone.
The funeral will be very basic and will include a coffin and the services of a funeral director. The funeral will either be a burial or cremation depending on the local authority.
These funerals will not include flowers or transport or viewings etc, and loved ones cannot choose the time or date.
Can you get help with funeral costs?
Even with prior arrangements in place, you could face an average shorfall of £1,981, so it’s hardly surprising that 1 in 8 people find that funeral costs can lead to considerable financial pressure. And that’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to come to terms with losing a loved one.
If you’d like to give your loved one a funeral but are worried about the money, there are ways to help cut the costs of a funeral, and simple things you can do to personalise a funeral while keeping costs down.
But if you’re looking for considerable financial assistance, there are a few options available.
- Help with funeral costs from a funeral director
- Are there charities that help with funeral costs?
- Can you get help with funeral costs from the government?
- Other ways to get help with funeral prices
Help with funeral costs from a funeral director
Remember to speak to your chosen funeral director about possible options. Normally a funeral director will require at least a deposit up front, if not the whole sum, but they might be able to agree a repayment plan to make the funeral costs more manageable and ensure you aren’t hit for everything in one lump sum.
Also, don’t forget to check if the funeral director accepts government benefits or works directly with any charities who might be able to help you.
A funeral director should also be able to advise you on which parts of a funeral could be omitted to try to help cut costs.
Are there charities that help with funeral costs?
There are lots of different charities that can help in the aftermath of losing a loved one. Many charities, like Cruse Bereavement Care or The Bereavement Trust, can help with the emotional side of loss and grief, but if you’re looking for financial assistance, the below could offer some support.
Friends of the Elderly can also help to contribute towards funerals for elderly people with no family or little to no savings.
Care Workers Charity contributes towards funeral costs for those who have worked in the care profession.
Social media can be a great place to garner some assistance, for example Crowdfunding sites can be a way of charity fundraising for a loved one’s funeral.
It may not be the most conventional route but asking for donations can be an effective solution for those struggling financially to cover the costs of a funeral.
Can you get help with funeral costs from the government?
The government could help pay towards funeral costs. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) help with funeral costs through a Funeral Expenses Payment and/or Bereavement Support Payment. It’s unlikely either of these will cover everything, but they can soften the financial blow.
Funeral Expenses Payments
This one-off means-tested payment is intended to support you in paying for:
- Burial or cremation, including doctor’s certificate
- Travel in arranging and attending the funeral
- Moving the body within the UK (if over 50 miles)
- Death certificate
It’s also possible to secure a further £700 payment for additional funeral costs, such as a coffin, flowers or funeral director’s fees.
To apply for Funeral Expenses Payments you need to be a close relative, partner or parent of the person who has died and receive at least one of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s or Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension, Child Tax or Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credits related to disabilities
Your application for a Funeral Expenses Payment must be made within six months of the funeral.
Finally, do bear in mind that you will be asked to pay the money back if it is later established the deceased’s Estate could have covered funeral costs.
Bereavement Support Payment
This is a one-off payment of £2,500 or £3,500, followed by 18 monthly payments of £100 or £350, which is available to husbands, wives or partners.
To apply you must be under the state pension age and your spouse or partner must have paid 25 weeks of National Insurance contributions or died in a work-related accident. A claim must be made within three months.
Other ways to get help
Generally speaking banks will consider settling the funeral bill from a late customer’s account, if funds are available.
To do this you’ll usually need the help of the Executor or Administrator of the Estate. In most cases, they will need to secure a Grant of Probate to access any bank account(s).
However, it could take time for you to receive your payment, as they have to address all outstanding debts such as a mortgage.
The bank or building society could pay funeral costs directly
If you can provide a death certificate, proof of your identity and an invoice for the funeral costs; your loved one’s bank or building society could agree to pay the funeral service provider directly.
This can be a quicker way of covering funeral costs than working through the Executor or Administrator of Estate.
The more you can plan ahead, the easier it will be
Dealing with loss is never easy, the added pressure of dealing with funeral costs can make it intolerable.
For more information on funeral planning read our comprehensive funeral planning guide. And if you’d like further advice on how you can take care of funeral costs so your loved ones don’t have to, speak with our team today.
Source: Cost of Dying report 2020