How to pay for a funeral

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The average cost of a funeral in 2021 was £4,056, plus an extra £2,484 for send-off costs (SunLife 2022). 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

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 £1,200 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.

 

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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