Funeral costs: A guide to saving you money

Nov 28, 2016
Funeral costs: A guide to saving you money

Arranging a funeral is not something that most of us do more than once in our lifetime, so it's important to know that the cost of the funeral is no more than you need to pay. 

Our helpful guide will show you step by step what to look out for and to understand how the average cost of a funeral is made up.

How much does a funeral cost?  

Your overall funeral costs depend on where you live and whether you want a basic funeral or a more traditional funeral with the add-ons that go with it.  

The recent Cost of Dying Report 2016 carried out by SunLife reported that funeral costs increased by 5.5% to £3,897, however, there were some large regional differences ranging from £3,277 to £5,529. 

These costs are made up of the funeral directors services which includes their professional guidance and support, looking after and preparing the deceased, the coffin and hearse. 

In addition there are costs that are outside of the funeral directors control such as the cremation or burial fees, doctors and ministers fees (or non religious service). 

How much does a cremation cost?  

The average cost of a cremation is less than the overall average reported above at £3,437, subject to regional variations. Cremations are the most popular funeral in the UK. 

How much does a burial funeral cost? 

On average the cost of a burial is £1,000 more expensive than a cremation funeral at £4,356. This is due mainly to the cost of the burial plot and interment fees - burial plots are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase and consequently local councils have increased their prices.   

Optional funeral costs 

In addition to the "essential" funeral costs you may incur some optional costs which many people assume are included in the essential funeral costs, such as, flowers, catering, venue, notices and memorials, however, these are additional costs and SunLife have reported that the average cost of these discretionary items are now £1,924. 

Direct Cremations 

Outside of traditional funerals a new way to dispose of the deceased is emerging known as a Direct Cremation

Currently only 1 in 20 people in the UK choose this option, but is expected to increase as they become more widely available.

The average cost of a direct cremation is around £1,750 for this the funeral director will collect the body and have it cremated at the first available time at the crematorium and return the ashes to the family. 

It should be noted that there is no service, no viewing; the way to look at this type of funeral is that it's a way of disposing of the body and gives no opportunity for family and friends to say goodbye, which could be disappointing for those you leave behind.   

Finding a funeral director 

Unless a funeral director has been recommended you are likely to use the internet to find your local funeral director, either by carrying out a google search or using one of the funeral directory websites: 

To save you searching both sites we have created a combined funeral directors directory which includes all funeral directors. By using a funeral director listed on one of these sites you can be sure that they are members of a recognised trade body.  

Don't be afraid to shop around for the funeral director that meets your needs and at the right price.

Questions to ask the funeral director

  • are you a member of the NAFD or SAIF trade bodies
  • what options are available - they should provide you with a range of choices, which will affect the overall costs, don't think that you have to include everything they offer
  • ask them what they charge for their professional funeral director services
  • what are the cremation fees
  • if you want a limousine for the family to follow the hearse, how much will this cost
  • do you want an urn for the ashes
  • how many pallbearers will you have
  • will the funeral cortege go directly from their premises to the crematorium or via your home, if  required 

You can find an extensive list of questions here at the Natural Death Society.   

Top tips on how to reduce your funeral costs  

  1. Never feel pressurised into thinking that your loved one would have wanted the most expensive funeral when the truth is that they could be happy with a cheaper funeral.
  2. If they have made their wishes known then budget allowing you should try to give them the funeral they wanted. 
  3. Whilst the funeral director will be very helpful, it's worth remembering that they are also running a business and will suggest options that could significantly increase the overall costs. 
  4. Shop around and compare: Whilst you may be emotional and stressed when you come to arrange the funeral, don't be afraid to shop around. Funeral costs will vary across towns as well as counties. 
  5. Choose the cremation slot: An early morning time slot can save hundreds of pounds, it's cheaper as they find it difficult to fill this time slot due to families being unable to travel on time 
  6. You don't need a limousine: most of us have cars these days an can follow the hearse 
  7. Type of coffin: Coffins can be inexpensive and provided they comply with crematorium regulations you can buy them on the internet. Or even use a shroud 
  8. Use a family members home for the venue: the wake or party could be held at home along with the catering 
  9. Have a Direct Cremation: these may not suit everyone, but you could have a direct cremation followed with your own memorial service and celebration of life at home. 

Help paying for a funeral  

Once you have checked whether the deceased had any financial provisions to pay for the funeral, if you are likely to struggle financially and worried about how you will pay for the funeral help is available for those on certain state benefits 

The Money Advice Service has some useful information to help you.   

Planning ahead  

If you do not have an immediate need to arrange a funeral then planning ahead could be a better way to save money on your funeral costs. 

When you purchase a prepaid funeral plan you are freezing your funeral costs at today's prices, so avoiding funeral inflation and also reducing the need for your family to arrange your funeral when the time comes. There are a range of plans available and here at Over50choices we offer independent advice on choosing the right plan. 

For no obligation advice on your payment options and types of plans available please contact us 0800 133 7656.

Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

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