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Help with funeral costs

In the UK, the average funeral cost is £4,184* in 2020, up 1.7% since 2019. The cost of a funeral can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as where in the country the funeral will take place and the decisions you make when making funeral arrangements.

This guide explains who would ordinarily pay for a funeral, help with funeral costs you may be eligible for, as well as charities and other resources which may be available to you:

- Who pays for a funeral?
- Government help with funeral costs
- Charities that help with funeral costs
- Crowdfunding for funerals
- Chosing a low cost funeral provider

 

Who pays for a funeral?

In the UK, there are no laws that state who is legally responsible for paying funeral costs although it is usually planned and paid for by the family and friends of the person who has died. If you have engaged the services of a Funeral Director and agreed on a contract with them, you are legally responsible for paying their fees.

Some people also plan ahead to cover their funeral costs ahead of time with a prepaid funeral plan.

Paying for the funeral with funds from the deceased’s bank account

The person who died may have had the money in their bank account which could cover funeral costs. Some banks will allow access to these funds to cover the cost of the funeral or arrange to pay the funeral director directly from the person’s account on your behalf. As a minimum, you will need a copy of the death certificate and an invoice for the funeral costs with your name on it. The bank or building society may also want proof of your identity.


Prepaid funeral plans

In some cases, your loved may have had a prepaid funeral plan in place to cover their funeral costs. It is important to check their personal papers to see if they had a plan and follow the instructions on it. If you are unable to provide any paperwork, the Funeral Planning Authority can help to trace plans simply by filling out a form on their website.

Not all funeral plans will cover all the services required for a funeral, so you may need to pay some of the costs yourself.


Taking the money from the estate at a later date

The costs of the funeral may be covered by the estate of the person who died (the estate is the money and assets that they have left behind).

Whoever pays for the funeral – family, friends or the council – can seek to recover the costs from the estate of the person who died. Sometimes, their estate is not large enough to cover this, so it is a good idea to check with the administrator of the estate that you’re able to recover the money at a later date if you need to (remember that the estate also needs to cover costs such as debts or mortgage), before offering to pay for the funeral.

 

How to get help with funeral costs

With the cost of the average funeral in the thousands, it’s no wonder many people do not have the financial provisions to cover the expense of a funeral and will need to find alternative help to cover costs.

If you and your family do not have the provisions to cover the cost of the funeral, and your loved one did not leave the money to pay for it or have a prepaid funeral plan, we've outlined some of the ways you may be able to get help paying for a funeral.

 

Government help with funeral costs in England, Wales and Scotland

There are a number of ways to get government help with funeral costs; the Funeral Expenses Payment, Bereavement Support Payments, budgeting loans and support for a child’s funeral.

Funeral Expenses Payment

If you’re on a low income and looking at getting help with funeral costs, you may be entitled to government help with funeral costs, including a Funeral Expense Payment. You do not have to repay government funeral payments, but they can be recovered after the funeral if the deceased has any money in their estate.

It is the decision of the Benefits Office as to whether you are entitled for the Funeral Expense Payment.

In Scotland, the Funeral Expenses Payment has been replaced by Funeral Support Payment. Funeral Support Payment is a one-off payment from Social Security Scotland which helps cover the cost of a funeral.

 

Bereavement Support Payments

If your partner was under state pension age, paid national insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks, and died because of an accident or disease caused by their workplace, you could be entitled to Bereavement Support Payment to help with funeral costs up to the value of £3,500*.

*This is the figure given if the recipients have children. If the recipient is without children, this payment falls to £2,500.

 

Budgeting loans

A budgeting loan is an interest-free loan which is available to people who have been on Pension Credits, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance for a minimum of 6 months. These loans are repaid directly from your benefits and are intended for essentials, such as funeral costs. The money must be repaid within 104 weeks.

You can apply online for a budgeting loan (England and Wales only).

 

Support for child funeral costs

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, your local authority will not charge you fees for a standard burial or cremation of a child.

The Children’s Funeral Fund for England can help to pay for some of the costs of a funeral for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy. The Children’s Funeral Fund can help pay for burial fees or cremation fees (including the cost of a doctor’s certificate) and a coffin, shroud or casket (up to a cost of £300).

Unlike other government help with funeral costs, it is not means-tested: what you earn or how much you have in savings will not affect what you get. The fees for the burial or cremation can be claimed directly by the burial or cremation provider, you do not need to submit any claims yourself.

Other fees, such a funeral director, flowers and memorial will still need to be paid. If you are unable to cover any additional funeral expenses, you might be able to apply for Funeral Expenses Payment to cover them.

 

Understanding funeral payments and bereavement benefits

Some people may not be eligible for government help with funeral costs and in many cases, if financial aid is provided, it will be far less than the cost of a full funeral. The average amount awarded to help with funeral costs by the Funeral Expenses Payment is around £1000, so families are often left short of the funds needed to afford a traditional funeral. The family are usually left to consider other options to keep costs low. We’ve listed some other considerations for obtaining financial assistance below.

 

Charities that help with funeral costs

Depending on how the deceased passed away, there are several charities that may be able to offer financial help with funeral expenses. To work out the charities that may be able to help with funeral costs, you may want to consider circumstances such as:

- How the person died - charities such as Marie Curie or Leukaemia Care may be able to help if they supported your loved one before they passed away, for example.

- The age of the deceased, or yours - Friends of the Elderly can aid in getting help with funeral costs for elderly people who have no family and little savings.

- If a child has died - children’s charities such as The Child Funeral Charity, React and Children are Butterflies can help with funeral costs for a child.

- The nationality of the deceased, or yoursScotsCare offer grants (for many reasons) to Scottish people living in London.

- The deceased’s occupation - Care Workers Charity contributes toward funeral costs for those who have worked in the care profession.

The Quaker Social Action charity can also provide free advice and practical support for families struggling with funeral costs.

We’ve listed just a few examples of charities that may be able to help pay for a funeral. For more information and help finding a charity that may be able to support you, we recommend the Turn2Us grant search tool.

 

Crowdfunding for funerals

Crowdfunding is when the general public is asked to donate money towards a particular cause. Crowdfunding for funerals is becoming a more common way of families getting help with funeral costs.

To crowdfund for a funeral, you can set up an online profile that friends and family can visit to donate money towards the funeral. If the deceased had no family but a few close friends, they may all wish to contribute to help ensure a fitting send-off. Crowdfunding is a great way of bringing friends and family together to do something positive in memory of a loved one. There are dedicated crowdfunding tools and websites available that makes crowdfunding easy, popular choices include JustGiving and GoFundMe.

When all other options have been explored and no solution can be found, your local council may be able to arrange a public health funeral (also referred to as a pauper’s funeral). Because this option is a last resort when there is no other alternative (in situations where relatives are unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral or where no relatives can be traced), there can be no contributions or part funding from the bereaved.

 

Choosing a low cost funeral provider

Whether you're receiving help towards funeral costs or funding it yourself, you’ll most likely be looking for an affordable funeral provider that’s local to you and promises to take care of your loved one to the highest standard.

At Simplicity Cremations, we offer a range of affordable, dignified funerals from just £995. Our funerals are available throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain and could be the best option if you’re looking to keep funeral costs to a minimum:

Unattended Funeral from £995
This is a simple and respectful funeral, conducted without any mourners' present.

Intimate Funeral from £1,395
If you’d prefer to witness the committal, this funeral offers a small group of people (up to 12) a short time in the chapel.

Attended Funeral from £1,895
This funeral suits those families looking for something a little closer to a traditional funeral.

Our funeral packages include cremation fees, doctor's fees, provision of a simple coffin, care in our professional mortuary facilities and transportation of the deceased in our specialised vehicles.

Low cost funerals are not about cutting corners, they’re about delivering the essential elements of a funeral to the highest possible standards. Allowing Simplicity Cremations to take care of the practicalities of your loved one’s funeral means that you can celebrate their life in a way that suits you and your family.

To arrange a funeral with Simplicity call us on today 0800 484 0260.

 

*SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021 

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