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Funerals: The cost of dying

A funeral is a huge financial transaction and involves a lot of planning, yet it’s entirely understandable that you may not be able to cope alone with organising it so if you are finding it difficult, do enrol the help of family & friends who can support you with it.

On average, the cost for a burial is £4,798, whilst the typical cost for a cremation is £3,744. The cost of a funeral will depend on the location, type of service, transport, type of coffin, funeral director fees, and any extras such as flowers and catering for a gathering afterwards. Fees can also vary greatly depending on your local authority. Unfortunately, some councils can charge extra for ‘non-residents’ so do check this first.

Check for a funeral plan

Before you start planning the funeral, check to see whether there’s already a funeral plan in place. This is where a burial or cremation’s already been arranged and paid for. The next of kin would normally know whether this has been arranged.

If you’re uncertain as to whether a plan exists, you can check with the Funeral Planning Authority who can find out if a plan is in place with any of its registered providers

Alternatively, details might be left with their other financial documents, details of which may be in their will, or left with their bank or a solicitor.

If there is no funeral plan, the cost of the funeral will normally be paid out of any money left by the deceased and, where money has been left, the funeral bill has the highest priority of all debts except for secured loans (such as a mortgage).

Set a budget

Once you know how much the basics will cost, if you’d like any extras, set a budget for them eg. it could be a flower-free funeral. How much you spend on your loved one’s funeral isn’t a marker of how much you’ve loved them, so be sensible about the budget you have.

Funeral Directors

Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.

I would recommend choosing a funeral director who’s a member of either: – The National Association of Funeral Directors – The National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors

They have codes of practise and must give you a price list if asked.

As an alternative to traditional burials and cremationseco-friendly or green funerals are becoming increasingly popular. They tend to involve the planting of a natural memorial, such as a tree, rather than a headstone for example and take place at woodland burial grounds. Funeral directors can offer this service and help to find a burial ground near you – but do bear in mind, they aren’t necessarily the cheaper option.

Get someone else to negotiate for you

It’s very understandable that you won’t be up to this, so get someone else to do this for you. Get a range of quotes from funeral directors if you using them and check exactly what’s included so that you don’t end up paying for extras you didn’t really want or need.

Access funds for funeral costs

These can be covered by the deceased’s estate, existing funeral plans or insurance policy. Even if the bank account of the deceased has been frozen following the death it may be possible to have funds released from a bank or building society upon proof of a death certificate and a funeral invoice.

Enquire about paying by instalments

A funeral director will often ask for at least some of the money up front. Sometimes relatives might need to borrow money until the money and property are sorted out and some funeral directors will allow payment to be delayed until this has happened or you may be able to negotiate payment by instalments but make sure that these are affordable for you before you agree and sign anything.

Funeral Expenses Payment

For those on a low income the government do offer a Funeral Expenses Payment benefit to those on a low income who are receiving certain benefits to help them pay for a funeral.

Bear in mind if you do get a Funeral Payment, you’ll usually have to pay the government back from any money you get from the person’s estate, such as their savings.

It won’t cover the whole funeral bill, so you might have to pay up to a third of the cost of a simple funeral, the main cost being the burial plot or cremation fees. You can also get up to £700 for any other funeral expenses, such a funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin.

You might not get a Funeral Expenses Payment if another close relative of the deceased (such as a sibling or parent) is in work.

Contact the Bereavement Service Helpline

Ask for form SF200

Telephone: 0800 731 0469

Budgeting loan

To get a Budgeting Loan you must have been getting certain benefits for the past 6 months (not including Universal Credit, which is a Budgeting Advance instead:

The loan is interest-free so you only pay back what you borrow.

The repayments will be taken automatically from your benefits. The amount you repay is based on your income including any benefits you receive and what you can afford.

You will need to fill in form SF500 which is available on the government website you can pick it up from your nearest Jobcentre Plus

If you want to get in contact with the government department it is their Social Fund division:

Telephone: 0800 169 0140

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