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How to Pay For a Funeral

Updated on June 4, 2017
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Kate is a Graduate Legal Executive, with a masters degree in Law gained from Aberystwyth University.

One of the immediate concerns after someone close to you passes away is their funeral. It is their final send off and something that they will have likely put some thought into, although it is entirely possible that they may not have made you aware of their wishes or put anything official in place before their passing. Funerals, especially our own, are topics that we often consider but then set aside to be dealt with later.

Making the arrangements can be troubling and upsetting, especially if you were close to the deceased. It is natural for you to want to provide a send-off worthy of them, that reflects them and the values they held close. But this often raises another concern; funerals can be very expensive, how are you going to pay for all of this?

This article discusses the available options for paying for a funeral and what restrictions may exist within these choices.

Funerals Are Expensive

Funerals can be expensive: in some cases, funerals can cost several thousand pounds. Finding that money can be difficult, if not an impossible task.

If there is a prepaid plan in place then, fortunately, you will not have to worry as much about the cost aspect of the funeral, but the plan that the deceased has paid into to cover the cost can sometimes fall short, depending on the type of plan they had.

If there is no prepaid plan and you are using a funeral director or arranging the funeral yourself, costs will always come into the equation.

You will have to consider the cost of:

  • The funeral director if you use one
  • Crematorium or cemetery fees
  • The newspaper announcement about the death
  • Flowers
  • Coffin
  • Catering for the wake

This list is not exhaustive; there could be further costs depending on how grandiose the funeral becomes.

If you use a funeral director, they should be able to discuss price with you before anything is done: they will be able to provide you with a breakdown that you will agree to before any costs are incurred. If however, you arrange the funeral yourself you will have to pay all of these separate items individually, and they will quickly mount up.

Cost is a major concern for people, one that arises at an already upsetting time. Fortunately, there are options available.

1. Prepaid Plan

The first and simplest option is one that the deceased will have arranged during their lifetime. That could be a prepaid plan: a scheme where the deceased has paid monthly instalments to specifically cover the cost of a funeral or insurance. Alternatively, if the deceased had a life insurance policy in place, the pay-out from this may be enough to cover the funeral.

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2. The Deceased Person's Funds

Another option exists when the deceased has funds available in their bank account. If so, then you can take the funeral bill to the bank, and they will release funds for the funeral. You will not be able to do this for other costs, for example household bills for the deceased, at least not yet. For this request to be approved, you will need to prove that the money is going to pay for a funeral. The bank will either release it to you to pass to the appropriate people, or they will make the payment directly on behalf of the deceased and their estate.

If you are unsure what the deceased has in their bank account, then you can take a copy of the Will and your ID proving you are an executor to the bank and speak with someone there, explaining the situation. If you are not the executor, then you will need to ask the executor to do this for you. If there is no Will, then the next of kin must be the one to approach the bank to discuss this.

3. Government Payments

Another option is to apply to the government for a Funeral Payment if you have difficulty paying for the funeral.

If you are on a low income, and need help to pay for a funeral you’re arranging, you may be eligible for a Funeral Payment. This is usually classed as a government loan, and you will have to pay back any money you get through this scheme. This loan can be repaid, at least in part, by selling the deceased person’s assets

How much you may receive will depend on your circumstances.

You can claim for help paying burial or cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate, as well as up to £700 for funeral expenses, for example the funeral director’s fees, flowers, and the coffin.

If the deceased had a prepaid funeral plan, you could claim for the cost of items not covered by the scheme.

If you are using a funeral director, then the money will be paid directly to them. If you are not using a funeral director, then the money will be paid into your account.

To make this claim, you need to claim within three months of the funeral, and be either the partner of the deceased or a close relative or close friend of the deceased. You (or your partner) must also receive one of the following benefits:-

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • The disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit
  • One of the extra features of Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

To make a claim you can either fill in form SF200, or you can make a claim over the phone.

If you use Form SF200, then you will need to print it out from the internet, fill it in and then either take it to your local job centre or post it to Freepost DWP Funeral Payments (you don’t need to write anything else on the envelope).

If you decide to apply over the phone you will need to call the Bereavement Service helpline on 0345 606 0265; this line is open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.

Conclusion

Funerals come at a difficult time by their very nature; the added distress of wondering how you will pay for a funeral can be a concern that no one needs. However, it is something that must be considered to move ahead and organise the funeral and lay the deceased to rest.

If the deceased had a pre-pay plan than most of your financial concerns will be taken care of, however, the pre-pay plan may not cover everything. You will need to check the plan carefully.

If the deceased has a sum of money in their bank account, this can be released to cover the cost, or part of the cost, of the funeral.

Lastly, if there is no alternative, then you can apply to the government for a payment/loan to cover the cost of the funeral. But you may have to pay this back.

Now that you are aware of the options, I sincerely hope that you feel more in control of your finances and how you would manage should you find yourself having to organise and find funding for a funeral.

This article should have also given you an understanding of how important it is to organise your own funeral plans, so as to avoid leaving your loved ones having to deal with your funeral arrangements on top of mourning your passing. Another benefit of organising your funeral via a prepaid plan is that you remain in control of your funeral and can make sure you get the send-off you want.

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