A typical funeral using a funeral director costs approximately £4,000.
Often you will need to pay the funeral director before probate is granted. In other words, before there is official proof that a will is valid. It may be worth considering how to pay for a funeral in advance in case there is not enough money available to cover costs.
There are a number of ways in which the cost can be covered:
- has the deceased contributed to a scheme to pay for the funeral?
- are there letters from an employer with details of an occupational or personal pension?
- is there a life insurance policy (assurance)?
- is there a prepaid funeral plan?
More information about the potential costs of a funeral is available from the Money Advice Service - How much does a funeral cost?
Funeral Payments and the Social Fund
If you are arranging a funeral and you are on a low income you may be eligible for help through a Funeral Payment.
The applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying means-tested benefit. However, payment may not be awarded if an immediate family member is not receiving a qualifying benefit. Savings over a certain amount will be considered. You will receive a single lump sum payment, which must be claimed within 3 months of the funeral. If there are assets in the estate then the Social Fund will need reimbursement.
Life assurance policies
Life assurance policies provide a lump sum payment if someone dies before a certain age (known as term assurance or endowment assurance) or on death at any age (whole life insurance). This is tax free and can cost as little as £1 per day.
Payment is usually made after probate, but the insurance company may pay out a limited sum on evidence of death.
Payment from the estate of the deceased
The deceased’s bank account will be frozen unless it is a joint account. Building societies and National Savings may release money for payment of funeral expenses. However, they do not have to do this until a grant of probate or letters of administration are obtained.
Pensions and payments
There may be pensions or lump sums payable from a trade union, professional body or other association, or from a provident club which pays benefit when a member dies.
Savings accounts and pre-paid funeral plans
Many funeral directors arrange pre-pay policies and some will accept advance payments, which are not part of a funeral plan.
Payment by instalments may be accepted if this is agreed when the funeral is arranged. It would be wise to make sure that your savings are kept separate from the funeral director’s business account.
Pre-paid funeral plans
Funeral directors offer these plans. They enable someone to set aside money solely for funeral costs. However, legislation to safeguard the money paid out has yet to be passed. You should consider carefully the plan offered by your chosen funeral director.
You may wish to ask the following questions:
- do I get a funeral director of my choice?
- what happens if I die before payments are complete?
- is my money kept in a trust fund separate from the funeral director’s accounts?
- what happens if my family is not aware of the plan and make an independent funeral arrangement?
- what extra costs, if any, are not covered?
- what happens if I die abroad?
More information about funeral plans is on the Money Advice Service - Funeral plans and funeral insurance.
The Children’s Fund: children’s funerals - cremation or burial
From 23 July 2019, the parents of children who have died will no longer have to pay for their funerals - burials or cremations. Every local authority in England will waive fees, and the bill for the child’s final rites will be met by the government. The Children’s Fund applies to those under 18 or a stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.
More information is available on the GOV.UK website about the support available for children's funerals.