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Help with funeral costs

Tips to trim the final bill

Everyone wants to do right by the person they’ve lost. But with the average cost of a funeral in the UK now £4,271*, finding the money to do this can be tough. Here are some steps you can take to help with funeral costs, and reduce the final bill while still arranging a touching, personal funeral.

Make use of all available help with funeral costs

When arranging someone’s funeral, it’s possible to recover the costs from their estate as long as there’s enough money available for this purpose. The good news is funeral costs are usually paid first, although secured debts such as a mortgage do take priority. It’s worth finding out early how much money is available in the estate to help pay for the funeral, as this may well decide the level of funeral arrangements you make.

If you’re on a low income and are responsible for arranging a loved one’s funeral, you may qualify for a funeral grant from the Government called a Funeral Payment. However, how much you get and how much has to be repaid will be determined by your individual circumstances and how much money is available to you from the estate.

Cut the funeral director’s bill

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use a funeral director and could organise a DIY funeral with the help of family and friends, although it would be no mean feat to do so. A happy medium could be to use a funeral director for the more specialist requirements, like preparing the body, and take care of the service yourself.

Of course, it’s probably easiest to use a funeral director for almost everything, but there are still a number of ways to help with funeral costs and trim the final bill:

  • Type of funeral — Choosing a cremation over a burial will cost much less, however a direct cremation is signficantly cheaper at up to half the cost of a standard cremation*. Use our free funeral cost calculator to compare costs where you live. Use our free funeral cost calculator to compare costs where you live
  • Timing — Hold the funeral either early or late in the day as charges are generally lower for less popular time slots
  • Embalming — Opt out of embalming particularly if there won’t be a viewing
  • Coffin — Keep the coffin simple — the funeral director will have a range to choose from
  • Transport — Instead of hiring a hearse and limos, use your own transport or for a short distance, a funeral procession on foot can be very moving
  • Pallbearers — Ask friends and family to carry the coffin
  • Music — Use your choice of pre-recorded music rather than an organist
  • Orders of service — Could you or a friend design something simple to print at home?
  • Flowers — Instead of buying from a florist, flowers from the garden or a favourite beauty spot will add a personal touch that costs nothing

Spend the money where it matters most

If you know what someone wanted for their funeral, focus spending on their choices rather than on things that meant little to them. This is why it’s so helpful to talk about our funeral wishes and document our funeral plans when we’re alive and well.

If you don’t know exactly what someone wanted, spend on elements that will reflect what they valued or enjoyed and cut costs elsewhere. For example, if the person loved singing, you could go to town on a choir but opt for a simple coffin.

Remember, homemade is more personal

Another great help with funeral costs is to be careful with plans for after the funeral. Rather than hire an expensive venue, you could invite people to your home for homemade sandwiches and cake.

Or if you’d prefer not to play host, the local pub, cricket club, or community hall could be an option. If they knew the person well they may even let you use it for free. And remember, everyone likes to help at a time like this, so why not ask guests to bring a dish?

Plan ahead

Making advance plans for your own funeral is one of the best ways to help with funeral costs and make sure you get the send-off you want. With a funeral plan, there are many decisions you can make now to reduce the bill for your funeral and help those closest to you both financially and emotionally when the time comes.

If you're thinking about planning your funeral, why not try our My Perfect Send-Off tool. It’s a free and simple way to plan your funeral and share your wishes with loved ones.

*Source: SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2018.

Find out more about the SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan

You can get a quote or give us a call on 0800 904 7649 to talk about your plan today. You can also request a call back.

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). 

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, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

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.