Paying for a funeral
Funerals can be expensive, so you need to check where the funeral money will come from before making any arrangements, otherwise you may have to pay the bill yourself.
It would be worth checking to see if the deceased has:
- Contributed to a scheme to pay for the funeral
- Purchased a pre-paid funeral plan
- A cremation society certificate
- Insurance policies or details of an occupational pension scheme.
Help if you receive certain benefits
If the person arranging the funeral is in receipt of certain benefits, they may be able to get a grant or loan - called a Funeral Payment - from Jobcentre Plus to help pay for the funeral. For more information visit the Funeral Payment section of the Jobcentre Plus website.
Payment from the estate of the deceased
Normally the bank account of the deceased will be frozen, unless it is a joint account.
However, building societies and National Savings may release sums of money to pay for funeral expenses, although they don't legally have to until a grant of probate or letters of administration have been obtained.
If the deceased was living in a hospital or a residential home, the possessions (up to a figure fixed by Lambeth Council) will be handed over to the nearest surviving relative or to a person with written authority from whoever is dealing with the will.
Employer's pension schemes or personal pensions
Find out if there was a pension due to be paid on retirement from a previous employer.
If there is a pension you should check who is responsible for paying it, for example, the employer or an insurance company.
If you have difficulty in finding the employer (or whoever has taken over responsibility for the pension), you can get help from the pension scheme manager - contact the Pensions Scheme Registry on 0191 225 6316 for help.
Some employers provide occupational pension schemes that pay a lump sum to help with funeral costs, and sometimes pension benefits for widows or other survivors. Check to see if the deceased had ever belonged to this type of scheme.
The deceased may have made their own pension arrangements if they were self-employed or if their employer did not have an employer's pension scheme.
If the deceased was receiving a pension from a previous job, find out who is paying it. It might be the employer's pension scheme or an insurance company.
Tell the representative of the pension scheme of the deceased, and also inform the widow, widower, dependant child or other dependant. These people may be able to get a pension or further pensions if already in receipt of one.
Other pensions and payments
There may be pensions or lump sums payable from the deceased's trade union, professional body or other association, or from a provident club which pays a benefit when a member dies - contact them directly to find out.
Life insurance policies
The deceased may have taken out a life insurance policy which provides a lump sum payment if someone dies before a certain age (known as a term of assurance or endowment assurance), or on death at any age (whole life insurance).
Payment is usually made after grant of probate, but the insurance company may pay out a limited sum on evidence of death.
Help from the hospital
The health board may arrange for the funeral of someone who dies in hospital if the deceased's relatives cannot be traced or cannot afford to pay for it.
They may make a claim on the deceased's estate to pay for it.
Help from Lambeth Council
Under The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, Lambeth Council has a duty to bury or cremate a person who has died in their area where no arrangements have been made and the deceased's relatives cannot be traced.
If we have any indication that the deceased did not want to be cremated, then we will arrange for a burial in a grave.
We may also claim on the deceased's estate for the cost of the funeral.
For more information see statutory funerals.
Long-term help for the family
A death in the family can cause financial hardship, as well as a deep sense of loss and other worries for those who are left.
The financial hardship may be a short-term problem, until the deceased's estate is settled, or it may mean that those who are left need long-term help.
There are various Social Security benefits that can help when someone dies - contact your local office for advice.