How much does a funeral cost?

Dec 4, 2014
How much does a funeral cost?

It’s the question many of us avoid but something we all should be thinking about as paying for a funeral will ultimately rest on the shoulders of our family unless we do something about it in advance.

So how much does a funeral cost - apart from the obvious answer of ‘too much’, what would you say if I asked you how much a funeral costs?

The startling reality as revealed in new research by funeral plan provider Perfect Choice is that two fifths of us under estimate how much a funeral will cost by an alarming £1,275!

The cold hard facts are that funeral costs have been rising faster than inflation for the last 10 years and now average £3,551 according to the most recent Sun Life cost of dying research.

Not a small amount of money for anyone to find which is why we should be removing our heads from the sand and facing up to this inevitable part of life.

So why does a funeral cost so much?
The cost of a funeral is made up of a number of different components; some of which are essential, others are more optional; some can be arranged by your funeral director where as others will need to be arranged by you in advance or by your family when the time comes.

If you have ever arranged a funeral you will no doubt know and understand what is involved, however if you have been lucky enough to avoid this stressful situation, funeral costs can come as quite a shock.

What’s more, as region has an impact on the price you pay for a funeral, the cost can come as an even bigger shock for those unfortunate souls who live in the most expensive areas of the UK.

For example the average cost of a cremation funeral in the north west of England is £3,028 compared to £4,836 in London and burial costs are usually a whole lot more expensive.

Cost of a funeral breakdown

So you now know the bleak truth that a funeral can be expensive, but where exactly does the money go and what do you get for your hard earned cash:

The following services are provided by your local funeral director:

-    All the appropriate legal documentation
-    Collection and transportation of the deceased
-    Care of the deceased
-    Provision of a coffin
-    Provision of the Chapel of rest for visiting
-    The hearse
-    Pallbearers to carry the coffin
-    Limousines for the family
-    Liaison with your chosen minister or celebrant

Then there are the additional third party costs to consider such as the:
-    Cremation or burial fees
-    Doctor’s fees
-    Minister’s fees

And finally there are the more personal options you may want to take into consideration such as the:
-    Wake or reception
-    Flowers
-    Funeral music & hymns
-    Headstones
-    Notices
-    Memorials
-    Deciding on cremation or burial

A useful website that highlights typical funeral costs can be found here if you want a more in depth view of pricing or you can visit the governments Money Advice Service on see their section on "how much does a funeral cost".

Help with funeral costs
Unless you receive full social benefits, the only help with funeral costs you are likely to receive is by helping yourself and planning things in advance.

I know it’s not a subject that is high on anyone’s list of things to do but once you’ve put plans in place you can forget about it; and don’t forget, not only are you removing some of the emotional stress from your family when the time comes, you could save money by arranging and fixing your services at today’s prices.

Why pre-paying funeral costs can help
When you consider funeral costs and how much they have increased over the last decade, it’s easy to see why more and more people are now planning how they will pay for their funeral in advance, either by purchasing a prepaid funeral plan or alternatively a life insurance plan.

The longer lives we are living together with soaring funeral costs means that pre-planning your funeral has to many become a natural part of financial planning arrangements.

Money aside, preplanning your funeral also gives you the option to specify your final wishes, again removing the decision making from your family. Whether it’s a specific piece of music; reading, or a party to celebrate your life – the choice is yours. Quite simply the more you plan today the less your family will have to sort out when the time comes.

Funeral cost prepayment options

If you are looking to put funds in place to pay or help pay your funeral costs, you could look at either a prepaid funeral plan or a life insurance plan.

Full details of both products can be found on our site:

Over 50 Life Insurance
Funeral plans

In terms of how they work; the life insurance plan will provide a cash sum that can be used to help with costs however do take into account that the value of the plan will be eaten away by inflation over the years. A prepaid funeral plan on the other hand pays for your services in advance, freezing the funeral directors fees at today’s prices and so is not impacted by future inflation.

So how much does a funeral cost?

The final cost will depend on your requirements; whether you prefer a lavish affair with all the bells and whistles or a basic funeral that allows close friends and family to say goodbye.

If you want to strip things right back and do away with the funeral service altogether, an increasing number of Funeral Directors throughout the UK now offer ‘direct cremations’ which are significantly less than the £3,551 average funeral cost.

At the very least, even if you are not quite ready to make financial plans, I recommend you talk to your family about the type of ‘send-off’ you would like, then when you are ready and can afford to plan ahead financially, there are options for you to consider.

Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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