Funeral costs – how to get help

A funeral can be as personal as you would like, however there are a number of things that will determine the overall costs. Costs will vary depending on where you live and what type of funeral you would like your loved on to have.

The funeral director will give you an estimate based on your funeral requests which includes the funeral director fees along with any third party payments such as flowers, a Minister, celebrant or officiant and newspaper notices.

Your loved one may have already paid for their funeral through a funeral plan. You can find out if your loved one has a will by checking the will, asking close relatives, asking local funeral directors or searching for funeral plans on the Funeral Planning Authority’s website.

How to get help with funeral costs

The funeral of a loved one is usually paid for by the family or friends of the person who died. If you are struggling to cover the cost of the funeral help is available from a variety of sources such as your loved one’s estate, government, charities. You may ask the funeral directors if you can pay in instalments, however they will require a deposit. 

Paying from your loved one’s estate

The first step is to find out whether your loved one had any funeral plans, money or funding that may help with the costs of the funeral.  

If your loved one had a funeral plan, they may have spoken to you or close family and friends about their plans, or they may have included the information in their will. As mentioned before if you are unsure if your loved one had a funeral plan you will usually find paperwork relating to the plan within their possessions. If you are unable to find any information regarding a plan, you can check the Funeral Planning Authority’s website, who are able to check if your loved one had a plan with one of their registered providers. 

If your loved one had enough funds in their estate to pay for their funeral, the expenses can be claimed back through probate. In simple terms the estate refers to the money and assets that they have left behind. The executor or administrator of the estate will need to apply for probate and speak to your loved one’s bank. 

If you cannot cover the costs of the funeral from the estate or funeral plans then there are other ways to get help.

Funeral Expenses Payment

The government’s Funeral Expenses Payment, also known as Funeral Payment, can help pay for the cost of a funeral if you fit a certain criteria and receive certain benefits. 

There is no fixed sum for a funeral payment, however it is means tested. The payment doesn’t usually cover all of the costs of a funeral and the amount you receive will depend on your circumstances, it will usually cover travel expenses, death certificates and cremation or burial fees. You may also receive a payment of up to £1000 to cover costs such as directors fees and the coffin or casket.   

If the Funeral Expenses Payment does not cover the full necessary costs of the funeral, then you may be able to apply for a budgeting loan as well. 

A Budgeting loan is a small, interest free loan that is repaid directly from your benefits. You need to be receiving one of the following benefits in order to be eligible: Pension credits, Income support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. You can apply online for a budgeting loan, If you live in Northern Ireland, you will need to apply via NI Direct

The Funeral Expenses Payment will be paid into your bank account if you have already paid for the funeral, if you have not paid for the funeral then the money will be paid directly to the organiser of the funeral, for example the funeral director. 

The Funeral Expenses Payment does not usually have to be repaid, However, if you receive money from the deceased estate then you may have to use these funds to pay back the Funeral Expenses Payment. 

Click here to find out if you are eligible for the Funeral Expenses payment 

Bereavement Support Payment

The Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) is available to those who have lost a spouse or civil partner. You need to be under the state pension age when your loved one passed to receive this payment. This payment is made up of a one-off lump sum payment and small monetary payments. There are two rates, the amount you receive varies according to whether you have dependent children or not. For those with dependent children you will receive: A one-off lump sum of £3,500 plus £350 a month for 18 months. 

For the surviving spouses or civil partners who do not have dependent children they will receive; A one-off lump sum of £2,500 plus £100 a month for 18  months. You can claim for the Bereavement Support Payment up to 21 months after your spouse’s death, however you will need to apply for it within three months to get the full amount.

Click here to find about more the Bereavement Support Payment

Funerals for a child

As of July 2019, bereaved parents in England will no longer have to pay for the cost of their child’s burial or cremation. The Children’s funeral fund for England will help pay towards some of the costs of a funeral for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy. This is not means-tested, however the burial or cremation must take place in England. Through this scheme your funeral director will be able to directly claim the costs so you do not have to worry. If you choose not to use a funeral director then you can still claim directly from the scheme. 

Click here to find out more about the Children’s Funeral Fund for England. 

Public Health Funerals

Even if you are next of kin, you are not obliged to pay for someone’s funeral. Local authorities are obliged to arrange a funeral where someone’s closest relatives are unwilling or unable to pay. 

*Sunlife Cost of Dying Report 2020.

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