Funding a funeral: understanding the costs

Funeral costs can add an extra burden of stress to what is an already difficult situation.  Although it can be hard to make quick decisions when you’re grieving, you still need to make sure that you have a clear understanding and a detailed breakdown of the costs involved.

Funeral costs usually come out of the deceased’s estate. But, in some cases, the estate is not enough to cover the cost of the funeral, so you need to think carefully about how the funeral will be paid for. Try not to feel pressured into paying for something you can’t afford. There is plenty of help out there for you.

Unlike many other decisions we make when it comes to spending money, when arranging and paying for a funeral many of us don’t typically look around for the best price but instead opt for the first funeral director we see. However, this is where many people don’t realise that it pays to compare services and find a lower cost funeral. There are many online afterlife service helpers that will allow you to compare different funeral director’s prices in your area to find one that’s right for you.


Cremation or burial?

You need to decide whether you wish to have a cremation or burial. Quite often your loved one would have specified a preference in their will. If not, then you will need to make the decision. Cremations offer more ways for the deceased to be memorialised as there’s an opportunity for each family member to have an urn, but burials allow you to have a headstone and a spot in which family and friends can visit.

One thing to remember between the two is, of course, the price. The price of a funeral can vary enormously, depending on the options you choose. The average basic funeral costs £3,596 – however, a cremation will cost around £4,561.

Alternatively, you can arrange a funeral yourself and choose a different type of service for a much smaller fee, such as a direct cremation from Beyond. This is a simple yet respectful cremation with no funeral, giving you more time to arrange a personal memorial service for family and friends. For a direct cremation, we suggest a budget of around £1,600.


Essential funeral costs

  • Funeral director (if you use one) – £2,000-£3,000
  • Doctor’s cremation authorisation forms – £165
  • Cremation fee – £500-£700
  • Burial fee – £800-£1,500
  • Minister fees (if holding a religious ceremony) – £160 (voluntary in Scotland). There can be additional charges if you have a church service


Non-essential funeral costs

Has the deceased’s estate provided for catering after the funeral or, for a gravestone? If not, you can usually pay funeral expenses from the deceased’s estate, but you may have to wait until the probate process is complete. Here are the following non-essential funeral items and although they’re classed as non-essential, it won’t be much of a funeral without them:

  • funeral flowers
  • death notice or obituary
  • funeral notice announcing the time and place of the funeral
  • additional limousine
  • order sheets
  • catering for a wake
  • venue hire for a wake/reception
  • memorial

If you’re on low income or get certain benefits, you may be entitled to claim Funeral Payment from the government to contribute to the costs. The claim period runs from the date of death, until three months after. You will not, however, be able to claim if the person who died had a close relative who isn’t getting benefits such as daughter, son, parent, brother by blood or marriage.


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