The average cost of a funeral in 2022 was £3,953, plus an extra £2,669 for send-off costs (SunLife 2023). If you’re not sure how to pay for a funeral, this article explains your options, including grants and other funds you might be able to claim.
Depending on your circumstances, you could combine several of these options to pay for the funeral.
Ways of paying for a funeral
- Pay in full using your own money
- Pay by instalments
- Pay from the deceased’s bank account
- Claim against the estate
- Claim on life insurance
- Claim a funeral plan
- Claim death in service
- Claim DWP funeral grant
- Claim government bereavement support payment
- Apply for charity support or grant
- Fundraising including crowdfunding
- Council-run funerals (aka community funerals)
Paying for a funeral with your own money
Funerals often need to be planned quickly. So you might not have much time to explore your options for how you’ll pay for it before the service. This means it’s often quickest and easiest to pay for the funeral with your own money.
Keep in mind that even if you pay for the funeral using your own money, you might be able to claim some or all of it back later. Read on to learn about your options.
Paying for a funeral in full using your own money
The quickest and easiest way to pay for a funeral is by paying the total amount upfront, or as soon as you get the invoice from the funeral director. You’ll also have the widest choice of funeral directors as all will accept this method of payment.
Of course, it does mean that you’ll need to have enough money to cover the costs. It’s a good idea to set a clear budget and tell the funeral director exactly how much you can afford to spend.
Paying by instalment
If you’re paying for the funeral out of your own money, you might want to look into paying by instalment (sometimes called a funeral loan or funeral finance). With this option, the funeral director will agree a set monthly amount you’ll need to pay to cover the cost of the funeral.
Keep in mind that not all funeral directors offer this option, so if this is something you want to do, it’s a good idea to check with them before you arrange the funeral. Be aware that you’ll likely need to pay interest, which will increase the total cost of the funeral. Your bank or building society might be able to offer you a loan with a lower interest rate, so it’s worth checking this too.
As with any loan, you should make sure you’re confident you can make the repayments.
Paying by instalment is different from a funeral plan, where someone pays for their own funeral in regular monthly payments before they die.
Paying for the funeral using money from the person who has died
If the person who died had savings, valuables or insurance policies, you may be able to use these to pay for the funeral. Some options will allow you to pay for the funeral directly. Other options mean you’ll need to pay for the funeral first and claim the money back later.
Paying funeral expenses from the deceased’s bank account
If the person who died has money in their bank account, you could use this to pay for the funeral. To do this, you’ll need to contact their bank directly and let them know what you need the money for. They may ask you for the invoice as proof of the cost. Alternatively, they may pay the funeral director directly.
This is a relatively quick way of paying funeral costs and means you don’t need to worry about finding the money yourself and claiming it back later.
Claiming funeral costs against the estate
Funeral expenses can usually be claimed against the estate of the person who has died. Their estate can include things such as their house, car, savings or other high value items. Once the estate has been valued, the executor (person assigned to manage the estate) will make sure that any debts are paid before the remaining money is shared out to next of kin or people named in the will (if there is one).
Funeral expenses are one of the debts that will be paid. Depending on the amount of money the person had, you could use it to pay for the whole funeral.
You’ll need to wait until the estate is valued and some other debts paid before you can get a payment to cover funeral costs. So you may need to pay for the funeral yourself and then wait to get the money back. Learn more about claiming funeral costs from the estate.
Claiming funeral costs on life insurance
If the person who died had life insurance, you could use the pay out to cover part or all of the funeral costs. In the UK, the average amount paid out for term life insurance policies in 2021 was £80,485. The average amount paid out for whole of life policies was £4,125 (ABI, 2021).
Keep in mind that you’ll only get the pay out if you’re named as the beneficiary of the policy. You’ll also need to wait until the insurance company has settled the claim before you receive the money.
Claiming a funeral plan
A funeral plan is a type of financial cover that’s specifically designed to pay for a funeral. Usually, when someone takes out a policy they’ll choose things like the funeral director they’d like to use, the type of burial or cremation they want, plus other details like the coffin or flowers. The things they’ve chosen are then covered by the plan. However, if you’d like to add anything else that isn’t included, you’ll need to pay for this on top.
Learn more about funeral plans and how they work.
Claiming costs from death in service cover
If the person was still in employment when they died, they might have had death in service cover. This type of insurance is sometimes offered by companies to their employees. It pays out a sum of money if they die while they’re employed by the company. So it’s worth checking if the person who died had this cover.
The typical payout is 2-4 times the person’s annual salary (Confused.com, 2022) Keep in mind that you’ll also need to be named as the beneficiary of the cover to receive the payout. It could take time for the insurance company to settle the claim, so you may need to pay for the funeral in the meantime.
Getting government or charity support with funeral costs
Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to claim a government or charity grant to help you pay for the funeral. You’ll need to go through an application process to prove that you’re eligible. It’s also important to know that most of these grants won’t cover the whole cost of a funeral. But you could use them in addition to other options.
Claiming the DWP funeral grant
If you get benefits, you might be able to get a government grant to put towards funeral costs. You’ll only be eligible if you receive specific benefits. It’s also means-tested, so you might not get the full amount. Keep in mind that the maximum payment is £1,000 which is unlikely to cover all the costs of the funeral. Learn more about the government funeral payment scheme.
Claiming the bereavement support payment
Another form of government support is the bereavement support payment. Unlike the funeral grant, it’s not means tested. But there is a time limit on the claim, so the sooner you apply for it, the more money you’ll receive. Learn more about the bereavement support payment.
Getting charity support or grants
Depending on your circumstances, you could get support with funeral costs from a charity. For example, there are charities that help people who worked in specific industries such as the Retail Trust and the Care Workers Charity. Different charities will offer different levels of support and each has its own application process. Learn more about charities that help with funeral costs.
Fundraising to pay for the funeral
If you’re not eligible for any grants, you could still raise money for the funeral by fundraising. Online crowdfunding platforms make it easier to raise money by reaching people around the country or even around the world.
Keep in mind that it’ll take extra organisation and may take time to raise the amount of money you need. You might want to ask friends or other family members to help you with this while you make other arrangements for the funeral. Learn more about fundraising to pay for a funeral.
Requesting a community funeral
If you’ve explored all your options and can’t find a way to pay for the funeral, you can ask the council to arrange a community funeral (also known as a public health funeral). The council will then make all the arrangements for the funeral, including the time, date and place. You’ll still be able to go to the service, which will be a simple but respectful ceremony.
Before paying for the funeral, the council will ask you to prove that you can’t afford to pay for it. So make sure you’ve looked into all your other options, including the government funeral grant, first.
Learn more about public health funerals and how to request one.
Other ways to manage funeral costs
If you’re planning a funeral and worried about how you’ll pay it, you could also explore ways to keep costs down.
- Arrange some parts of the funeral yourself. Optional extras can add up quickly. Consider doing your own flower arrangements, or organising your own transport instead of having limousines. You could also hold the wake at a family home instead of hiring a venue.
- Consider an unattended funeral or direct cremation. These types of funeral are becoming more popular and offer a lower cost alternative to a traditional funeral.
- Compare funeral director costs. You could save hundreds of pounds on the cost of a funeral simply by shopping around. You can use our funeral director search tool to compare costs in your area in just a few minutes.
Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash