Depending upon the deceased's wishes and the funds available, the cost of a funeral can vary considerably and typical UK funeral costs have never been higher.
Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the costs associated with a funeral. As with so many purchases, the secret lies in forward planning, unashamed price comparison and careful thought about exactly what you do (and do not) want from the funeral. Always remember that the most expensive funeral might not necessarily be the 'best' one, and that a simple, well-planned, low cost funeral can provide a memorable and meaningful celebration of someone's life.
So what's the average cost of a funeral in the UK?
2010 Ipsos MORI
The average overall cost for a funeral is £2,648 and generally includes a cremation, transportation of the deceased from a hospital to the chapel of rest, a hearse, one limousine, an opportunity for the family to view the deceased, and the simplest available coffin; but excludes floral tributes and newspaper announcements.
In line with the findings for funeral directors' charges, the average Dignity quotation is the highest at £2,916 - significantly higher than both the Co-operative and independent quotations. Co-operative Funeralcare again gives the mid quotation of £2,675. This is, however, significantly higher than the independents' quotation of £2,353, which is the lowest of the three.
The average of the possible extra costs are as follows;-
Funeral flowers (£229)
Death notice in newspapers (£98)
Funeral notice in newspapers (£146)
Catering at a wake for 50 people (£341)
In practice, as well as reflecting regional variations, funeral prices depend on the preferences of the deceased and their loved ones, the chosen style and content, and the budget available. Variations in the cost of items such as coffins give a clue to the range of prices, with a simple pine coffin costing around £300 and an elaborate willow coffin likely to be more than £1000. Similarly, the bill for funeral flowers could be hundreds of pounds - or just a few pounds for modest arrangements made by family and friends.
Whether it's a low cost funeral or a no-expenses-spared send-off, the only certainty appears to be that costs will continue to rise: AXA quotes Mintel research that estimates a 38% increase in average funeral costs to £3,299 by 2012. It's yet another reason not to put off funeral planning any longer.
There are several ways to help with the costs of a funeral. Some take the form of thoughtful advance planning (pre-paid funerals or prudent financial provision with term insurance). Alternatively, assistance might be available from sources such as the following:
A lump sum from an employer's pension scheme
The Social Fund (ask at any UK Department of Works and Pensions)
A local authority (always contact them before the funeral is arranged)
According to AXA, the DSS paid out £45m in 2005/2006 to help cover the costs of 35,000 funerals.
If a deceased person has bank or building society accounts, these will be frozen (unless it is a joint account) on death. However, up to £5,000 can be available on production of a death certificate. Anyone arranging someone else's funeral should remember that they are responsible for paying the bill (though this is normally recoverable from the deceased's estate).
The cost of a funeral is rising all the time (in the UK it can easily top £5,000 by the time all the extras have been included). That makes it all the more important to understand exactly what's involved in a funeral cost, what you do and do not want, and how you or your next of kin will pay for it.
From a carefully planned pre-paid funeral to a meaningful but low-cost funeral, whether you're planning the simplest or the most elaborate celebration of a life, this section will help you understand funeral costs and some of their financial implications.