Paying for a funeral

The average cost of a basic cremation is now estimated to be around £3,650 and £4,561 for a burial. This doesn't include costs for coffin upgrades, memorials and flowers.

In their life-time, people often assume there will be enough money in their estate to cover their funeral.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. If you’re planning your own funeral you may like to consider now whether there will be enough money for the things you would like.

Arranging a funeral for someone else

If you’re arranging a funeral, you’re responsible for the costs so it’s a good idea to check how the funeral will be paid for and whether the estate of the person who has died will cover the costs.

Many funeral directors require payment before probate is granted (probate is the official proof that a will is valid). It may be worth considering how to pay for the funeral in advance, if that amount is not readily available.

Two sets of costs arise when arranging a funeral, burial or cremation:

  • disbursements - payments to doctors for cremation, the cemetery or crematorium, floral tributes, death notices and the minister or officiant fees
  • funeral arrangements by the funeral director - the cost of collecting and handling the body, the coffin, hearse and cars, and all arrangements.

When choosing a funeral director, obtain some quotes as soon as you have decided what you require.

When you’ve chosen the funeral director, ask for a written estimate of the total cost so you’re clear on what has to be paid and for what. If the cost of the funeral is likely to cause financial problems this can be discussed with the funeral director.

Things to consider when covering the costs of a funeral

The bank account of the deceased will be frozen unless it is a joint account.

Building societies and national savings may release sums of money for payment of funeral expenses, although they don’t have to until a grant of probate or letters of administration are obtained.

If a person died in hospital or residential home, the possessions will be surrendered to the nearest relative or to a person with written authority from whoever is dealing with the will.

There may be pensions or lump sums payable from any Trade Union, professional body or other association, or from a provident club which pays benefit when a member dies.

Things to check

You should check:

  • if the deceased has contributed to a scheme to pay for the funeral
  • if there are letters from an employer with details of an occupational or personal pension
  • other paperwork to see if there is a Cremation Society certificate, life insurance policy or details of a pre-paid funeral plan.

Financial help

Financial help may be available, for more information please visit the GOV.UK website.

If no one is willing or able to pay for the funeral, the council or in some cases the health authority may do so but only when a funeral has not been arranged.

You can also get help with funeral costs from:

Fees

For more information about the fees for funeral, burial and cremation services, see the cemeteries and crematoria fees page.