If you can’t afford a funeral, you’re not on your won.  According to the SunLife “Cost of Dying Report”, the average cost of a full funeral in the UK in 2020 was around £4,200. 

For many families this is an unaffordable sum. This article describes a number of approaches you can consider if you’re looking to keep funeral costs down.  

Is there a funeral plan in place? 

Before you start working out what you can afford, it’s important to check whether the person who’s passed away had a funeral plan. A funeral plan will normally cover many of the basic costs of the service (although the cost of a burial plot or the actual cremation may not be included). 

How do I find out if there’s a funeral plan?

A funeral plan might be mentioned in the will. You could also check with family and friends who may have been involved in any pre-death planning decisions.  Alternatively, you can contact the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) who will check with all funeral plan organisations in the UK on your behalf.  If there is a plan, the plan provider will then contact you directly.  

95% of all new plans are registered with the FPA but if the plan was bought some time ago then you can also look at:

  • Old bank statements for regular/direct debit payments
  •  documentation relating to the will

If a funeral is unaffordable, there are other ways of keeping funeral costs down: 

1. Paying out of the estate

If there are enough funds in the estate, many funeral directors will wait until bank accounts are cleared and funds available.  This will give you extra time to pay the funeral bill and most banks will release funds from bank accounts when you send them a copy of the funeral director’s bill.

If you need to go through probate (which can take several months), then it’s worth speaking to a number of different funeral companies to find out who will wait for that process to be completed.

2. Lower-Cost Funerals

There are a number of ways to reduce the costs of a funeral which can save up to 50% of the overall price.  Areas where you can cut costs include:

  • Choosing a cheaper coffin
  • Spending less on flowers
  • Having the wake at home
  • Choosing a cheaper time of day for the service 
  • Asking the funeral director to use fewer pallbearers
  • Use your own cars instead of having limousines for family

3. Direct Cremation 

What is a Direct Cremation?

A direct cremation means that there is no funeral service.  There aren’t usually any mourners at the crematorium although you can be present for the committal (the point when the coffin goes into the furnace area) if you wish.  

Direct cremation costs vary between providers and typically range from £995 to £1500

4. Government funding to help with funeral costs.  

This is split into two categories: (i) help for the funerals of adults; and (ii) help when children have died. 

Help to pay for funerals for adults

The Government will provide a means-tested Funeral Expenses Payment towards the cost of the funeral if you are:

  • On certain benefits or tax credits (see the link below for the list of qualifying benefits);
  • The partner, a close relative or close friend of the deceased and unable to afford it yourself; and
  • The funeral will take place in the UK, the European Economic Area or Switzerland

The Government will ask for this payment to be returned if you inherit any money from the estate of the person who died.

Please note that if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the system is slightly different, there are links at the end of this article with more information.  

Funding if a child has died

The Children’s Funeral Fund pays suppliers directly for the costs of a funeral.  This is so that the service can be provided free to the family at the point of need without them having to pay upfront.

The funeral director, crematorium or burial authorities will claim back their costs from the government and will advise as to what is covered by the fund.  The family can then make choices about anything additional that they might want to include for their service.

At Settld, we specialise in simplifying the process of end-of-life administration. Our service is free to members of the public and is designed to make it easy for you to notify companies when a loved one has died, and request closure, transfer or amendment of their accounts. All you have to do is fill in a simple online form. 

 If you’d like to know more about Settld and how we can help,  visit our website www.settld.care or you can email support@settld.care or call us on 0344 327 3996 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday)

Useful Links:

Trace a funeral plan
Gov.UK – Get help with funeral costs
Gov.UK – Eligibility for Funeral Expenses Payments
Funeral Support Payments in Scotland
Funeral Payment in Northern Ireland
Help with the costs of a Child’s Funeral (The Children’s Funeral Fund)