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Can I get help with paying funeral costs?


Dealing with funeral costs can add a significant financial burden to an already challenging time. But exploring all of the various avenues that can help you to pay for funeral costs in the UK can take some of the pressure off. This guide explores what government support is available and if you qualify for this assistance. We will also cover some financial planning options and compare insurance policies that can safeguard funeral costs now and in the future. 

Understanding funeral costs in the UK

Unfortunately, funeral costs have not been spared from the rising prices of recent years. So it is more essential than ever to plan and prepare for these expenses. In the UK, the average cost of a funeral in 2022 stood at approximately £3,953, with burials costing as much as 4,794. 

These costs vary significantly based on your location, the type of service, and any additional options you want to include. And with funerals becoming more unique and personalised for the individual, the costs can become more unpredictable.

69% of people make some type of provision specifically to cover their funeral expenses before they pass. However, only 59% manage to set aside enough funds to cover the entire cost of the funeral, so family and friends will very often still have to supplement these costs.

This leaves family members making payments on credit cards, borrowing from other family or lenders or selling belongings to cover funeral costs. So it’s important to establish who will be responsible for these payments before proceeding with any arrangements.

Today, it’s wise to consider putting financial plans in place, such as over 50s life insurance or funeral cover, to ensure that your loved ones are not burdened by funeral expenses. 

What help can I get with paying funeral costs in the UK?

There are a lot of different sources you can look to if you need help paying for funeral costs. UK government support is available depending on your relationship to the deceased and any benefits that you or the deceased receive. You can get help from local councils, crowdfunding or any life insurance policies the deceased may have had. And in recent years when there are more options for less traditional funeral arrangements, you can consider some alternatives that both align with the deceased’s wishes and are also cost effective.

Types of assistance available for funeral costs

Understanding the assistance and options available can help you make informed financial decisions during difficult times. Remember that different circumstances may lead to different solutions, so it’s essential to explore the options that best suit your situation. 

Common options of support include:

1. Government support

In some cases, the government can provide financial assistance to help with funeral costs. These are designed to assist with payments, but might not cover the full cost of the funeral. These include: 

  • Funeral Expenses Payment – This is offered depending mostly on your relationship with the deceased, any benefits you or they received, and what country you are holding the funeral in. You can check if you are eligible for this and make a claim online. 
  • In Scotland, you can apply for a Funeral Support Payment – This is a Scottish specific alternative to the funeral expenses payment and cannot be claimed if you are getting any other government funeral cost support. 
  • Bereavement Support Payment – You can get this grant if your partner has died. This is not means tested, so what you earn or have in savings will not affect the payments you recieve. It is not exclusive to married couples, but eligibility differs slightly depending on your relationship with your partner.

2. Simple funeral options

Many funeral directors offer a simple funeral package. This is a straightforward, no frills service that leaves out a lot of the traditional extras of funerals. The specifics vary across different funeral directors so you can shop around to find one that works for you. 

This type of funeral package typically includes:

  • Removal and care of the deceased.
  • Arrangements for a basic funeral.
  • Provision of a hearse and staff to the nearest crematorium or burial ground.
  • Provision of a basic coffin.
  • Conducting the funeral at a time suitable to the funeral directors.
  • Some directors might also allow you to pay in instalments.

These packages are available at inclusive package prices that are significantly lower than standard charges. The cost of a simple funeral service can be between £1,695 and £2,490 depending on where you live in the UK. 

3. Charitable support

A lot of UK charities also offer assistance with funeral expenses. These are usually specific to charities that align with the deceased’s age, occupation, or if they died of a particular illness. Examples include The Care Worker’s Charity and Friends of the Elderly. Others offer help with other daily costs at the time of your bereavement like helping with bills or grocery costs, so it is worth exploring these options if you find yourself in need. The National Bereavement Service also has a helpline and message service that provides practical and emotional advice and support.

4. Assistance from local councils

Your local councils can sometimes arrange public health funerals. However this option is typically for individuals with no family or friends to take responsibility for the funeral, or if there are no funds in the deceased’s estate to cover the costs. These funerals generally provide a basic service, which may not include elements such as funeral notices, flowers, transport, or viewings.

5. Alternative assistance options

When facing financial constraints in covering funeral costs, consider these alternative options:

  • Crowdfunding – Online fundraising for funeral expenses has become more common. Platforms like Go Fund Me or Just Giving allow you to share your story and seek contributions from family, friends, and the public.
  • Body donation – If it aligns with the wishes of the deceased, donating their body to science can be a contributive alternative to burial or cremation. 
  • Checking for any pre paid funeral plans or over 50s life insurance – If the deceased had an active over 50s life insurance policy, the lump sum payout from the policy can be used to contribute towards the funeral costs. Funeral plans can also serve as a valuable financial resource to cover funeral expenses with a preferred funeral director.

Could life insurance pay for my funeral?

Over 50 insurance is designed to pay out a lump sum to the beneficiaries when you pass. This can ensure the costs of your funeral do not fall on family and friends. The amount that is paid out in this lump sum varies depending on your age and the details of your specific policy. But all over 50s insurance can provide some measure of financial peace of mind and alleviate the stress associated with funeral expenses for your loved ones.

The role of over 50s life insurance

Over 50s insurance policies are specifically designed to provide support during this critical period in life and have a few key benefits beyond what you can get in other insurance options, 

Key benefits of over 50s life insurance include:

1. Guaranteed acceptance 

Over 50s life insurance policies offer guaranteed acceptance, regardless of your health or medical history. This means that even if you have pre existing conditions, you can secure coverage without undergoing a medical exam, extensive underwriting or excessive premiums.

2. Fixed premiums 

With over 50s life insurance, you pay fixed premiums throughout the life of the policy. This lets you plan your finances effectively, knowing that your premiums will stay constant.

3. Payout for funeral expenses 

The primary purpose of over 50s life insurance is to provide a lump sum payout to your beneficiaries upon your passing. This payout can be used to cover funeral costs, ensuring that your loved ones do not face financial strain during an already emotional time.

4. Flexible financial support 

This payout is not paid directly to a funeral director so your beneficiaries have the freedom to use it in accordance with their current needs. Whether it’s settling outstanding debts, covering everyday expenses, or fulfilling other financial needs.

Funeral plans vs. over 50s life insurance

While both pre paid funeral plans and over 50s life insurance can help you prepare for funeral costs, it’s essential to understand the differences between the two:

Funeral plans allow you to pre arrange and pre pay for your funeral. This lets you pay the current price for any of the funeral expenses and takes the pressure off family and friends for fulfilling your exact wishes. However, this is typically paid to a pre chosen funeral director so the costs covered in this can only be used for your funeral and the level of coverage can vary from policy to policy.

On the other hand, over 50s life insurance policies provide a lump sum payout upon your passing. This lets your loved ones use this to cover whatever they most need at the time which can include funeral expenses as well as other financial needs. This insurance offers guaranteed acceptance and fixed premiums, making them a straightforward and flexible option for securing your family’s financial future.

The importance of planning for funeral costs

Dealing with funeral costs is a reality that many families face, and failing to plan for these expenses can leave loved ones in a challenging financial situation. Here are some key reasons why planning for funeral costs is crucial:

1. Financial security for your loved ones

Planning for funeral costs ensures that your family does not bear the burden of your final expenses. It provides them with the financial security they need during a challenging time, allowing them to focus on grieving and healing.

2. Fulfilling your final wishes

Funeral planning allows you to express your final wishes and preferences. Whether you have specific requests for the type of service, burial, or cremation, planning ensures that your desires are honoured.

3. Avoiding financial stress

Sudden funeral expenses can be overwhelming, especially if they are unexpected. Planning in advance allows you to avoid financial stress and uncertainty during an emotionally charged period.

How to reduce funeral costs

In addition to considering over 50s life insurance, there are additional ways to reduce funeral costs:

1. Shop around

Find funeral directors in your area and compare quotes to find the best value for your money. Prices may also vary for extras like flowers and catering, so it’s essential to explore your options.

2. Be transparent about budget 

If you are talking to a funeral director it’s completely ok to be transparent about any budget you have and to ask about low cost funeral options and removing non essential extras. 

3. Consider direct cremation

Direct cremations are a cost effective option that can significantly reduce expenses. This is simply because it does not involve a traditional funeral service, embalming, or viewing in a chapel of rest. 

4. Opt for eco friendly choices

Choosing eco-friendly coffins, natural burial grounds, and other sustainable options can help save on costs while also benefiting the environment.

5. Ask for help

Consider organising aspects of the funeral yourself with the help of family members. This collaborative effort can reduce expenses and allow for a more personal touch. For example, you can ask family and friends to bring food to the wake rather than using an outside caterer.

Exploring all of your options for assistance with paying for funeral costs can help you to find the solution that is right for your unique circumstances. There is support available from multiple sources that can help you meet the wishes of your loved one. And you can help ease the financial burden on your loved ones by planning for funeral costs in the future. For UK residents aged over 50, comparing over 50s life insurance is a great starting point for setting up a practical solution that secures your family’s future and ensures that your final wishes are honoured. 

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This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes

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