Who pays for a funeral if there is no money?
It isn’t every day that families or friends suddenly have to face organising and paying for a funeral. If you have never lost anyone close, then you could be forgiven for not knowing the associated costs when it comes to arranging a funeral.
A funeral can cost thousands of pounds, so it’s important to think about how much it will cost and how it will be paid for. Funeral providers put a lot of time, effort and resource into arranging a funeral, which is often reflected in the cost. In the UK, the average price for a basic funeral is £4,184*, with burials usually costing more than cremations.
Who is responsible for paying funeral costs in the UK?
In the UK, there are no laws that state who is legally responsible for paying funeral costs. However, if you have engaged the services of a Funeral Director and entered a contract with them, you are legally responsible for paying their fees.
The executor of the estate (if there is a Will) or the family (if there was no Will) will usually take responsibility for arranging the funeral. They can:
Pay for it using funds from the bank account of the deceased
Most banks and building societies will release up to £5,000 to cover funeral costs when presented with an invoice with your name on it and a copy of the death certificate, even if the bank account was frozen following their death.
It’s not a good idea to access the person’s individual accounts, even if you know their debit card PIN or online banking log-in. Always speak to the bank first if you need to access the deceased’s account - otherwise, you could get into legal trouble.
Take the money from the deceased's estate, at a later date, after assets and property has been sold
Anyone who pays for a funeral (family, friends or the local authority) has the legal right to claim that money back from the estate of the person who died, at a later date after assets and property are sold. Funeral costs are usually the executor’s highest priority, after secured debts such as a mortgage.
Check for a funeral plan or insurance
It may be the case that your loved one set up a prepaid funeral plan to take care of their funeral costs.
In the first instance, check to see if there is any record of a funeral plan or insurance policy, or if you have access to their personal documents or email account, check here for any mention of a funeral plan. Even if you can’t find any in-depth details but maybe the odd letter or email, you can always call the particular provider to see if they have anything on record. If you manage to find a plan or policy, then this could cover some or all funeral costs.
If you’re curious about funeral plans or want to set something up for the future that will prevent your family planning a funeral with no money, then don’t forget to check out our range of prepaid funeral plans.
But, who pays for the funeral if there is no money in the estate or a funeral plan is not in place?
If there aren’t sufficient funds in place to pay for a funeral, then families do have options to ensure that their loved one can still be honoured with a dignified funeral.
How to get help with funeral costs
Here are some ways you may be eligible to get help with funeral costs or suggestions for how you may save on funeral costs.
Ask for help
Asking others for money can be tough, but friends, family members or other associates may be willing to help with funeral costs. If people who knew the person are made aware that there is no money for a funeral, then they may be willing to contribute even a small amount towards the costs, which could either add up to cover the whole thing or at least help to make the final bill more manageable.
Crowdfunding is another way you could raise money towards funeral costs, by requesting donations from wider family and friends or the general public. Crowdfunding is now easier than ever, with a number of online tools and websites available such as GoFundMe and JustGiving.
Apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment
A Funeral Expenses Payment (or Funeral Support Payment if you’re in Scotland) is a Government scheme aimed at helping those people on a low-income, or benefits, to pay funeral costs. If you claim any sort of income support, housing benefits, jobseeker’s allowance or other benefits, then a Funeral Payment may be able to help with funeral costs. Be aware that Funeral Payment may only cover around a third of funeral costs, plus you may need to pay the amount back if the person’s estate is found to have enough value to cover the amount paid out at a later date.
Learn more about the Funeral Expenses Payment.
Take steps to reduce funeral costs
A Simplicity Cremation provides you with all of the practical and essential elements of a funeral, without the obligation to pay for traditional ceremonial elements you may feel are unnecessary allowing you to reduce funeral costs by up to 76% vs the average basic funeral*.
Our services are available throughout mainland Great Britain. Unlike many funeral providers, the cost of our services remains the same regardless of where you live. Using our own nationwide mortuary facilities means we won't charge you with additional mileage fees.
With the practicalities covered, this allows you the opportunity to arrange a fitting celebration of your loved one's life.
If you feel that the quotes you have received from other funeral providers look pricey or you don’t feel the person you have lost would be happy with their loved ones having to pay so much, then our flexible funeral packages offer options for all budgets:
Unattended Funeral from £995 - A simple and respectful direct cremation, conducted without any mourners' present and without a service beforehand.
Intimate Funeral from £1,395 - If you’d prefer to attend the crematorium on the day of the funeral, this funeral offers a small group of people (up to 12) a short time in the chapel to reflect and say a few words if they wish.
Attended Funeral from £1,895 - This funeral suits those families looking for something a little closer to a traditional funeral. You will have the option to arrange a family-led funeral service.
Contact us for more information on low cost funeral options, starting from £995.
What happens if you can't afford a funeral?
If there simply is no money for a funeral and help is not available to you, the local authorities will step in to arrange the funeral.
Every year, thousands of people across the UK die without any next of kin available to organise the funeral, or only distant relatives who cannot or do not want to pay the funeral costs. If there’s no family or friends to pay for the funeral, and there’s no estate, the local authority will organise a Public Health Funeral, commonly known as a pauper's funeral.
A Public Health Funeral is typically the last resort; a council will only take on the responsibility if there are no other options available. You will not be able to choose the funeral director although you will be able to attend the funeral, with the date and time of a public health funeral chosen by the local authority. It will be a basic funeral (often a simple cremation) which will not include viewings, flowers or transport for family members.
Learn more about a pauper's funeral.
*SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021