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 £4,078*, 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?
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 2017.