Talking about money: planning for a funeral

Funeral costs are rising. Here’s some information to help protect you and your loved ones.

You probably already know funerals are expensive. The most straight-forward funeral can cost £1,000s. There are unavoidable expenses that are easy to overlook, such as burial fees.

Thousands of people are left unaware that funeral costs continue to spiral. One of the biggest scandals in recent years is how the unregulated funeral industry is driving up prices beyond inflation. 

In the past decade, the cost of funerals has increased more than petrol, electricity, wages and house prices.

The average funeral cost in the UK is now £4,078. The total cost of dying is an alarming £8,802 per person.

Grieving relatives are being ripped off with the hard sell when they’re at their most emotionally vulnerable. Often they are too caught up in the moment to consider the final cost.

Understandably, this staggering cost is beyond the budget of most people. If you’re not protected, your family will be left struggling to pay the bill at a very difficult time. Funeral poverty is a real problem.

Type of funeral Average cost* Includes
Direct cremation £1,600 Collection of the deceased, a simple coffin, and return of ashes
Cremation using a funeral director £3,311 Collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, hearse and managing a simple service; but does not include an elaborate ceremony
Burial using a funeral director £4,257 Collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, hearse and managing a simple service; but does not include an elaborate ceremony
SunLife Cost of Dying report 2017, and the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017.

10 tips to help you plan better

The following tips have been reproduced from the Fair Funerals Campaign, from Quaker Social Action

1. Talk about it now. Discussing your funeral wishes with friends and family can provide clear plans and save unnecessary costs.

2. Slow down, take a breath. Don’t feel rushed into making funeral arrangements when someone dies. When we feel rushed we can make bad financial decisions

3. Shop around. Costs vary hugely between funeral directors. Get three itemised quotes – you could save a lot of money.

4. Ask about a ‘simple funeral’. Ask for the funeral director’s most affordable funeral package. Often this will be called a ‘simple funeral’

5. Are you eligible for financial help? Call the DWP Bereavement Service line on 0345 606 0265, or the Citizens Advice Bureau, to check if you’re eligible for financial support.

6. It’s your choice. There is no legal requirement to hire a funeral director, hold a ceremony, or pay for flowers or special vehicles.

7. Cremation or burial? It is a personal choice, but it’s worth noting a burial is often more expensive than a cremation.

8. What makes ‘a good send off?’ At a funeral, people remember thought and goodwill rather than lavish expense.

9. If no one can pay? Ask about a simple, dignified funeral paid for by the hospital or council.

10. Need help now? For free help and advice on arranging a meaningful affordable funeral call Down to Earth on 020 8983 5055.

For more details help and support, Down to Earth have a guide called Planning an affordable and meaningful funeral (.pdf, 196k)

Prepaid funeral plans

With the cost of funerals increasing beyond inflation, you might consider a prepaid  funeral plan?

These plans allow you to freeze funeral costs at today’s prices. Contributing towards the cost they help protect your family, emotionally and financially, when they are at their most vulnerable time.

A funeral plan means your family won’t be hit unexpectedly with a considerable bill when the time comes.

Getting a funeral plan is an also a way of giving a final parting gift to your loved ones. You are lending them a helping hand when they need it most.

After that, you no longer need to worry about leaving your family with the burden of debts and stress, just happy memories and a legacy that isn’t eaten up by extortionate funeral costs.

Co-operative Funeral Care offer a Best Price Guarentee. If you find the same funeral plan at a lower price, they promise to beat it.

Talking to older people about money

Funerals are, of course, a hard topic to discuss. Older people may need to consider a wide range of financial topics, including wills, care needs and failing health.

The Money Advice Service have produced a guide to help you How to talk to older people about money (.pdf, 738k)