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How Much Is a Funeral? A Guide to Funeral Costs

Category: Planning A Funeral

Arranging a funeral can feel like a daunting task, particularly at what is already such a difficult time. And whilst no one ever chooses to arrange a funeral, when the time calls for funeral plans, having a clear understanding of what costs are involved can help you considerably.

Your lost loved one may have left a will depicting details about the type of funeral or service they wished to be carried out. And whilst you are under no legal obligation to follow these instructions, the majority of family members and friends tend to honour these wishes as a mark of respect.

And when it comes to funeral costs? The expenses around a person’s passing have increased at a considerably higher rate than the cost of living. Where UK inflation fluctuates between 1% and 2%, a recent report says that UK funeral costs have risen at an average rate of nearly 4% in the last couple of years. There’s no doubt about it. Funeral costs are on the rise.

So, just what does a funeral include?

Of course, all funerals are individual, as all family members and friends will carry out the service in personalised ways. But most tend to involve the following:

  • A plain, lined coffin
  • Transport of the loved one’s body to the funeral home
  • Care of the body until the day of the funeral (not including embalming)
  • A hearse to take the body to the crematorium or burial ground
  • Pallbearers
  • Completion of all necessary formalities and obtaining essential documentation

Other extra services that the funeral director could provide are:

  • Flower arrangements
  • Help with the order of service, from music choice to speakers
  • An organist
  • A more expensive coffin, plus fittings
  • A death notice or obituary
  • A medical certificate and any doctor signature fees
  • Fees for religious services
  • A burial or crematorium fee
  • Embalming
  • Memorial service
  • Pre and post-service catering arrangements

There are other more personalised extras, which do not usually come as standard with funeral plans, such as:

  • A burial plot
  • A headstone or memorial plaque
  • The scattering of a loved one’s ashes
  • Gravesite maintenance
  • Depending on whether you opt for a Burial or Cremation, the coffin or urn can be customised at an extra cost.

In some instances, you may need to leave a deposit. And whilst funerals tend to be costly, it is possible to achieve a low-cost funeral, so it’s always best to ask for a full list of any possible charges before making a final decision.

Planning ahead

If the deceased had opted for a pre-paid funeral plan, this means the funeral costs could likely be spread over a period of time, ranging from 12 months up to 10 years, usually with monthly payments. This could help immensely when it comes to covering the funeral cost.

Some costs may not be included in a funeral policy. And in fact, many simply cover the funeral director’s services without taking into consideration the cost of a burial, its plot or an option for cremation. There may also be other expenses such as a church service, catering, floral tributes or car hire.

Funeral directors can take on all aspects of a funeral, but assuming some of these duties yourself can help reduce the cost. And you don’t need to worry, as it is entirely appropriate to discuss the process in some detail with your chosen funeral director.

After all, with such an important day at what could come in at a significant cost, balancing your loved one’s wishes with a realistic budget will help you to take some of the pressure off when it comes to planning the ceremony.

You can rest assured that exact funeral fees will become transparent the moment you enter into a contract with the funeral director for provision of services. Ensure to check on the distinction between services and products offered by themselves or through a third party. And in the case of the latter, a profit margin may be added on top of the fee they charge to the funeral director.

If you’re not sure and are worried about feeling too overwhelmed with the final process, you can reach out to a solicitor for reassurance.

When all is said and done, how much the whole occasion costs will be a decision you will have the final say on. And it’s helpful to know that the funeral director will very rarely object to specific requests for alteration. If they do, it is completely your choice whether you do decide to stick with the first one you meet or discuss the arrangements with another provider.

What happens after the funeral ceremony?

Once the service has taken place, and tributes have been thoughtfully made, you may wish to consider holding a wake. Depending on whether you have booked a venue or choose to host at your home, costs associated with this could include:

  • Further transportation
  • Venue hire
  • Flowers
  • Catering arrangements

And the subject of payment?

Before committing to a final funeral plan, it’s worth asking yourself some ‘bottom line’ questions, such as:

  • What is our budget for the funeral?
  • What is included within our budget?
  • If we wish to, what is the best way to spread the cost?

You may be offered a discount to pay for the funeral before or soon after the ceremony. If you know the money will be released at a later date, you may wish to consider a loan or other means as a way to pay early.

Payment may be made later, if the person who died made arrangements to pay for their funeral through insurance or another policy, or once the estate has been dealt with.

In the case of negligence (e.g. medical), the cost of the funeral can be claimed as compensation.

Whatever you do decide, the choice is primarily yours. As you will be experiencing a difficult time of grief, you may wish to get the funeral organised quickly and with the minimum amount of stress.Nevertheless, it is always advisable to obtain quotes from more than one provider.

Especially as recent statistics show that funeral director costs can range quite drastically, and not just when it comes to postcodes. The largest difference between the highest and lowest price has shown to be £2,365 and funeral director fees have seen an overall increase of 2.1% over the years.*

*Based on the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017.

The below is taken from a BBC article (“UK funeral prices to be probed”: 1/6/2018) about funeral costs.

Were you to buy the parts of a funeral separately, rather than as a plan, these would be the typical costs - although they can vary significantly in different parts of the UK:

Moving deceased to Chapel of Rest - £99

  • Hearse and chauffeur - £315
  • Coffin - £275 to £1,500 or more
  • Minister or officiant fee - £148
  • Funeral director’s professional fees - £1,000 to £1,500

Cremation costs

  • Cremation fee - £660
  • Cremation urn - £200
  • Ash plot - £450
  • Doctor’s fees (not payable in Scotland) - £164

Burial costs

  • Interment fee (grave-digging and backfilling for a single depth grave) - £150 to £1,734
  • Burial plot cost - £280 to £5,000 or more
  • Stone memorial - £800 to £1,200 or more

Optional costs

  • Embalming - £136 to £165;
  • Limousine and chauffeur - £305
  • Flowers - £151
  • Order of service sheets - £72
  • Church service - £98 to £149
  • Catering - £397