It’s a topic that nobody likes to think about or discuss, however it’s important to understand the full extent of the funeral costs that you or your family may need to cover in the future. Costs are continuing to rise, putting extra strain on the finances of older people and their families – with some people now putting money aside for their own funerals, to ease the financial burden on their families when they’re gone.
Today’s post will outline some of the funeral costs that you’ll need to consider, as well as the help that is available from the government.
Average Funeral Costs
Funeral costs will vary depending on where you find your data. According to the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017, the average cost of a funeral with a traditional burial is £4257, whilst the average for a funeral with cremation is £3311. Costs do vary across the country though, with London being nearly double the national average.
SunLife’s “Cost of Dying Report 2017” states that the average cost of a basic funeral was £4078, an increase of 5% compared to the previous year and an astonishing 112& increase since their first report back in 2004. In fact, their report also claimed:
Over the last 10 years, funeral costs have risen by more than 70%, almost three times the rate of wage increases. If this rate of increase continues, the average basic funeral will cost almost £5,000 in five years’ time. In another 10 years, that could rise to £7,200 and in 20 years, a staggering £13,000.”
Here’s a full breakdown of the average basic funeral costs, courtesy of SunLife:
- London – £5951
- South East and East of England – £4656
- South West England – £4413
- East and West Midlands – £4133
- Yorkshire and the Humber – £4185
- North East England – £3921
- Scotland – £3601
- Wales – £3461
- North West England – £3588
- Northern Island – £2982
Such is the steep rise in funeral costs, they are now being put under scrutiny by two separate reviews. According to the BBC, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is reviewing funeral costs, “to ensure that people are not getting a bad deal,” whilst the Treasury is also investigating pre-paid funeral plans.
So, what exactly are you paying for when it comes to a funeral? Let’s take a closer look.
One of the most expensive part of the funeral costs you’ll face is the burial. It’s the burial costs which lead to such a difference in average costs around the county. In some areas grave sites are in high demand, which automatically pushes the price up. More desirable locations within a cemetery, such as peaceful secluded areas, will also be more expensive.
The average costs of burial funeral costs is quite shocking, with the average price in London being a staggering £7311. This fluctuates around the country, with an average burial costing £4596 in Yorkshire and the Humber, with Northern Island coming in “cheaply” at £2895.
Cremations are much less than a burial funeral, however considering them as being cheap and affordable might by a mistake. According to SunLife, the average cost of a cremation is £3596. There’s also a less dramatic variation in cremation costs across the country, ranging from £4,591 in London to £3,049 in Wales.
Some companies may offer a direct cremation funeral. This is where the body is collected from the mortuary during normal working hours and cremated at a convenient time. With such a service, there is usually no viewing or ceremony beforehand, nor a limousine for family and other mourners. And if you wish to have the ashes afterwards, make sure you request them. You usually need to collect them, but some might deliver for a charge.
A funeral director is there to help make arranging the funeral as simple as possible, whilst allowing you to have more time to grieve. The only issue with hiring a funeral director as this can be a very expensive part of the funeral.
According to Money Advice Service, funeral directors make up over 69% of the cost of a cremation funeral, and 53% of a burial funeral, making it an average cost of £2,411. The funeral director will collect, store, prepare and deliver the body to the cemetery or crematorium. They’ll also be on-hand to sort out all of the necessary paperwork and ensure that they’re complete. They’ll also provide a coffin, hearse and usually a limousine.
You shouldn’t just pick the first director you find. Call around and get at least two quotes before you choose one that’s best for you.
Third Party Funeral Costs
These are also known as disbursement cost and make up other costs that you’ll need to calculate whilst planning the funeral. Other than the burial or cremation costs, other examples include a doctor’s fee to certify the death, a member of the clergy to perform the funeral service or an officiant to lead a non-religious service.
If you’re using a funeral director to arrange the funeral, the third-party costs are sometimes included in their funeral package.
Optional Funeral Costs
There are many items and services that you can add to a funeral. Each item however costs money and it’s important to consider exactly what you think you and your family will want to include at the funeral. Here are some average prices for some of the optional funeral costs, courtesy of Money Advice Service:
- Memorial headstone or plague – £916
- Catering – £444
- Limousine – £319
- Venue hire – £397
- Flowers – £149
- Return of Ashes (Direct Cremation) – £62
- Funeral notice – £85
- Death notice or obituary – £72
- Order of service sheets – £63
- Urn – £30+
- Death certificate copies – £4 per copy.
Potential Financial Help
Prepaid Funeral Plan
A funeral plan covers the cost of the funeral. You can buy one from a funeral plan provider which then pays the funeral director directly for your ceremony, which means your family won’t need to get involved.
These plans commonly cover the essentials of a funeral, such as the cost of the coffin, care of the body, transport of the body to a funeral director and a hearse. It won’t usually over optional funeral costs such as flowers, catering and any newspaper notices.
Different plans will vary from one another, so it’s best to do your research and compare to get the right one for you.
Funeral Expenses Payment
Also known as the Funeral Payment, this is available from the government if you receive certain benefits and need help paying for a funeral that you’re arranging. To qualify, you or your partner will need to get one or more of the following:
- Income Support.
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
- Pension Credit.
- Housing Credit.
- Disability or Severe Disability element of Working Tax Credit.
- Child Tax Credit.
- Universal Credit.
There are also rules on your relationship with the deceased that you’ll need to match. You’ll need to be either; the partner of the deceased when they died, a close relative or close friend of the deceased, the parent of a baby stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or the parent/person responsible for a deceased child who was under 16.
Finally, the funeral in question will need to take place in the UK, within the European Economic Area or in Switzerland.
The Funeral Expenses Payment will help towards the costs of; burial fees for a particular plot, cremation fees, doctor’s certificate, travel to arrange or go to the funeral, the cost of moving the body within the UK (over 50 miles) and death certificates or other documentation. You can also get up to £700 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin.
The money will be paid into you bank, building society or credit union account if you’ve already paid for the funeral. It will be paid directly to the organiser of the funeral if you have not paid yet.
Taking out life insurance will be of huge importance in your older years, as the lump sum pay out from this policy can be used by your loved ones towards your funeral costs.
Funeral costs may be claimed from the estate left in your will. You can also plan for your own funeral and leave your wishes in your will document. It is also worth having a conversation with your loved ones about what you would like at your funeral, when the time comes. This will make the process a bit easier for your family, in what is a very difficult time for them.
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