How to pay for a funeral


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Arranging how to pay for a funeral can be an added pressure, at what is already a distressing time. If someone close to you passes away, it’s important to understand whose responsibility it is to arrange and cover the cost of their funeral, and what financial help may be available. If you’re thinking ahead and planning for your own funeral, in both the practical and financial sense, then kudos to you for taking away what can be a heavy responsibility from grieving loved ones.

Averaging funeral cost

When it comes to funerals, there is no one-size to fit all. Whilst some people are happy to keep things low-key, others will prefer a large ceremony to celebrate the life of the deceased. If the decision is up to you, the type of funeral you desire for your loved one is a very personal decision. If you’re planning ahead for yourself, you might want to consider a funeral plan that will allow you to pay small monthly amounts and be sure your wishes are carried out.

When estimating how much a funeral will cost, it’s important to remember that the three main factors that will determine the price are:

  • Location – Funeral services in London, for example, are far more expensive than elsewhere in the country
  • Type of funeral – A basic cremation is far more affordable than a burial
  • Extras – Consider whether you require any extras like a limousine, funeral flowers or catering for a wake

According to the Money Advice Service the average costs of the three main types of funeral are:

  • Direct cremation £1,600 – This is the most affordable option, the body is collected and cremated without a funeral service.
  • Cremation with funeral director £3,311 – If you opt for a cremation with a funeral director this will bump the price up significantly and usually includes collection and cremation of the body, coffin, funeral service, and hearse.
  • Burial with funeral director £4,257 – Burials tend to the be the most expensive option. The price usually includes collection and preparation of the body, coffin, funeral service, and hearse.

Other non-essential costs that can bump up the price include flowers, catering and venue hire for a wake, limousine, and obituary.

Who is responsible for funeral costs?

Arranging and paying for the funeral is usually the responsibility of the deceased’s closest relative or friend. If there is a Will it may be down to the Executors named in the Will. If no relatives have the means to pay for the funeral, the local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral.

Can you pay for funeral expenses out of the estate?

In some cases, the person who pays the funeral costs may be able to reclaim the expense from the deceased’s estate.

If you’re paying for a loved one’s funeral out of your own pocket, make sure that you’re certain you can afford it. You should be aware that it can take 9 – 12 months (and sometimes even longer) before you can reclaim the money from their estate.

The deceased’s bank account will be frozen as soon as the bank has been notified of their death and administrators of the Estate cannot then access the bank account until Probate has been granted.

Once Probate has been granted the Estate administration process begins and debts must be paid in order of priority, with secured debts like a mortgage prioritised over remunerating funeral costs.

How to pay for a funeral

Most funerals are arranged and paid for using a funeral director. If you choose to use a funeral director, you may be able to spread the cost of the funeral over monthly instalments. If you don’t wish to use a funeral director, the Cemeteries and Crematorium department of your local authority can usually help you.

  • Pre-paid plan - The first thing to check is whether the deceased had pre-paid for their funeral with a funeral plan, funeral insurance, or a pension scheme. Nobody wants to dwell on thoughts about their own funeral, but these kinds of plans can be a huge relief for loved ones at an upsetting time.
  • Reclaimed from estate - If the deceased has enough money in their estate after any secured debts have been paid, the person who pays for the funeral may be able to reclaim the costs from the estate. To arrange this you should speak with the Administrator of the estate.
  • Government Funeral Expenses Payment - If you are in receipt of certain benefits then you may be able to apply for help paying for the funeral from the Government’s Funeral Expenses Payment. The amount you can receive from the Government depends on whether there is any money available from other sources, like the deceased’s estate. Bear in mind though that you will still need to contribute towards the cost, as the maximum payment isn’t enough to cover the full cost of even the simplest funeral.
  • Public Health Funeral - If no one is able to pay for the deceased’s funeral and there is no money in the estate, the local hospital or council can arrange for a Public Health Funeral. Public Health Funerals are usually cremations and can include a short service for friends and family to attend.

To save your loved ones the burden of trying to find the money to finance a funeral at what is already a very emotional time, get in touch with our team here at Avalon Funeral Plans to start putting money away for your funeral today.


About the author

With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.