Funeral Cost… What if I Can’t Pay?

Funerals have become notoriously expensive with the increase of corporate companies acquiring independent funeral homes and council run crematoria doing little to dampen down the annual increase which currently stands at approximately 8%.
Nigel and I are doing all we can to tackle the rising cost from our side (links to news stories)
Weston’s Cheapest Funeral
Under 30 ‘at cost’ funeral
Aside from actually helping people at the time of need, we are also wanting to educate and inform people even before their time of need.
So, what can you do if you can’t afford to pay for a funeral?
Unfortunately, funeral directors do not have a credit facility. This means that not only would you usually have to pay approximately 50% of the funeral costs up front at the time you make the arrangements, the balance would need to be paid within 30 days of the funeral. Funeral Directors cannot legally arrange for accounts to be paid in instalments. This, given the circumstances is one of the regrets felt by most of us.
You need to consider firstly if the deceased can pay for their own funeral. If they have cash in a bank account/building society, then the funeral director can sent their invoice directly to the bank who will then pay for the funeral directly to the funeral director. This is the only payment that can come out prior to probate. The only thing that you’d need to do to facilitate this is to inform the bank of the death. If the deceased has no cash but has assets, e.g. – a house, then you would be expected to pay the funeral director yourself and be re-imbursed upon sale of the house. (The funeral director cannot wait 3, 6 months even years for the sale of property.)
There is a Funeral Grant payable by the DWP. No one quite knows the means by which you can be successful which is why it is recommended that EVERYONE apply for the grant.
Follow this link for the application form -
This grant will cover the external costs (or the disbursements – Crematorium, Minister and Doctors fees). These are currently approx. £1200. As well as this, the grant will pay a contribution of £750 towards the ‘Funeral Directors Cost’. Nigel and I have recently managed to cover the entire funeral cost with the payment from the DWP leaving the family without an outstanding balance. Please, don’t expect this of your funeral director but know that it can be done.
By taking this option you will at best, be left with the remaining balance after the DWP payment has been made and at worst, find that you’ve been unsuccessful in obtaining the grant and therefore responsible for the entire cost of the funeral.
It is always best to take your time when choosing a funeral director, gathering estimates as well as meeting the funeral director face to face. The cost of funeral services differs drastically in each town.
There are circumstances however, in which the council or hospital will pay for the funeral.
You’ve no way of knowing if a long lost relative that you met only once as a child has put you down as their NOK. This may well be the case if you are their only surviving relative. That is, until they pass away and you then find yourself expected to arrange and pay for their funeral.
It can feel pretty cold but you don’t have to do anything. If you do nothing then the authorities will take over and take care of the funeral. The council have a responsibility under section 46 (Control of Disease) of the‘Public Health Act 1984’ to take care of the funeral arrangements for any person found dead or who has died within the county.
There will still be a dignified public funeral (usually cremation) that is arranged between the environmental health officer and their nominated funeral. Attendance can be made by the family but no funeral arrangements can be made.
Some people mistakenly believe that bequeathal is a way around funeral cost. Universality hospitals will take bodies for research and learning. (Medical science.)
Once the body has served its purpose (which can be anything up to 7 years) then the hospital will arrange and pay for a simple cremation service which can be attended by the family.
This is not a simple process. The bequeathal must be made by the deceased whilst alive. The family or NOK cannot donate the body of the deceased. Also, as I have indicated, it can be many years before the body is cremated. Some are used for medical training and will remain with a trainee doctor throughout their entire training.
Ultimately, the only sure way to beat the massive rising cost of funerals is to think ahead and talk about it now. Part of what makes people spend so much is guilt. Whether self-founded or imposed, so many bereaved people feel a sense of guilt and that they must provide the best. Choosing the right funeral director will always be the best step in providing the best for your loved ones. Part of the role of a funeral director should be to guide you in your choices, and help you to make wise decisions. The best doesn’t have to cost as much as you think. Alternatively, having discussed the wishes with the deceased prior to their passing can prevent unnecessary cost. Knowing their wishes not only alleviates some of the guilt and the guilt driven purchasing, but their wishes might be completely different to what you’d thought.   Part of talking about funerals now could conclude in the purchase of a pre-paid funeral plan. A pre-paid funeral plan is simply paying and guaranteeing your funeral cost at today’s cost. It isn’t like insurance where you are guaranteed a lump sum, but instead, guarantees the funeral costs are covered no matter what the ‘at need’ cost should have been. E.g., I’ve known people pay £900 for a funeral plan in 1995 who have recently died. The cost of their funeral at today’s cost, (with the company that they had chosen) would have been £5000. And they paid only £900.
Unlike an ‘at need funeral’ a pre-paid funeral plan can be paid for in instalments over a period of up to 25 years (depending on age of plan holder.)
Our pre-paid funeral plans start from £2500.00, which will guarantee all your future funeral costs are covered - no matter how much it should be at the time.
If you’d like more information, please either call us on - 01934 525042, email us on –, or pop in and see us in the office on the High Street, Worle.
Claire Groves