Paying for a funeral Funeral costs explained
We explain the average cost of a funeral, what is typically covered by funeral costs, and how you can pay for it.
How much does a funeral cost?
The average overall cost of a UK funeral is £5,693*.
However, the total cost can vary considerably depending on what you choose and where you live. There are basic elements common to most funerals, and discretionary elements which you may or may not opt to include.
Basic funeral costs: average total £3,693*
- Funeral director’s fees: as well as the organisation of the funeral, these cover the costs of transporting and caring for the deceased, the coffin, and the hearse. These are the largest item in most funerals, typically amounting to more than £2,000.
- Cremation or burial fees: burials are more expensive than cremations. The average burial costs around £1,800, while the average cremation costs £688. Around 75% of UK funerals now involve cremations, with burials accounting for only 25%.
- Doctor’s fees: this is the fee charged by a doctor for statutory certification. The average is currently £164. This cost doesn't apply in Scotland, where certification is not required.
- Minister’s fees: these are the fees charged by a minister for officiating at the funeral service. A secular service may incur similar costs. They include travel expenses as well as conducting the ceremony. The average is around £150.
Discretionary funeral costs: average total £2,000*
- Memorial: a simple memorial stone and inscription can cost hundreds of pounds. The average is currently £862, but anything more elaborate will be more expensive still.
- Catering: funeral directors can arrange catering, or you can opt to do this yourself. The cost depends on the number of mourners but may amount to more than £300.
- Car hire: you may require cars to transport members of the family and other mourners to and from the crematorium. Your funeral director will provide these as required, but the cost could be another £240 on average.
- Flowers: these will decorate the coffin and the chapel at the crematorium. The cost tends to be around £150.
- Venue hire: this is an optional extra (for the wake), but it may run to £150 if required.
- Death notices and funeral notices: placing notices in the local press can cost around £100.
- Order of service cards: these will include details of the service and possibly a photograph of the deceased person. The cost could come to £70 but depends on how many you need.
*2015 SunLife Cost of Dying report gives £3,693 national average for basic funeral costs. These vary depending on where the funeral takes place - from £3,203 in Northern Ireland to £5,068 in London. The average national cost of discretionary funeral items is £2,000, varying from £1,405 in Wales to £2,881 in London. The average total cost of a UK funeral is £5,693.
- For one-to-one advice on the financial aspects of dealing with a death, contact the Which? Money Helpline
Paying for a funeral
Funeral costs are usually taken care of by the deceased person's executors, using funds from the estate. This is an expense that can be met before a grant of probate has been obtained, and one that is deducted before the estate is assessed for inheritance tax.
The funeral director is normally paid directly by the bank within three to four weeks of the funeral.
If the deceased took out a funeral plan, the cost will usually be covered by this - although there could be extra expenses that the policy will not cover.
Help with funeral costs
If you're on a low income and are struggling to pay for the funeral, you may be able to apply for a Social Fund Funeral Payment from the government. However, you'll usually be expected to pay this back from the deceased person's estate.
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