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Lay to rest funeral cost fears

If there’s one certainty about life, it’s that we will all die. I know, cheery. But in addition to leaving your memory behind, not having a plan in place could also leave your family with debt.

According to the Royal London’s ‘National Funeral Cost Index 2015’ the cost of an average, basic funeral in the UK has increased by £140 compared to last year, to a total of £3,702.

Cremation costs have risen more than burials: the average cremation has risen by 4.2% to £3,294, while the average burial is up by 3.7% to £4,110

More than one in ten people have struggled to pay for a funeral. On an individual level, funeral debt is £1,318. Collectively, across the UK this adds up to £98.9m.

It’s easy to splash out on funeral costs but there are ways to cut back. The most important thing is to have the conversation and be prepared to discuss plans so the deceased’s wishes are respected.

Do you know what your loved one's wishes are?

According to the annual ‘Cost of Dying Report’ from Sunlife, organising a funeral had prompted almost two thirds to start thinking about their own plans. Yet of those who had done nothing yet, one in six admitted the reason was because they either don’t feel comfortable talking about death or don’t want to think about it.

One in three adults who have organised a funeral were unsure whether their loved on wanted a cremation of a burial. Seven in ten didn’t know how they would want their ashes scattered and a huge number didn’t know which coffin to choose.

The report also reveals a rise in the trend for eco funerals with an increase in both woodland burials and people opting for coffins made of cardboard, wicker, bamboo and even papier-mâché.

Here are some tips to help you prepare financially as well as emotionally for a funeral.

Be prepared

It might be depressing to think about, but it’s best to prepare financially for a funeral if you can. A funeral plan is a way of paying for a future funeral today. It is not an investment plan as you are effectively paying for a service in advance rather than seeking to earn a return on your investment.

Keep it basic

You don’t have to spend big on a funeral. Do you really need a funeral notice announcing the time and location of a funeral in a local newspaper when you could email or use social media? Many people also opt for having a charity collection instead of funeral flowers.

Find out about Funeral Payment benefits

If you’re on a low income and you or your partner are claiming certain benefits, you may be entitled to a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. This is a government scheme to help people on low incomes cope with essential expenses.

Don't be afraid to talk about it

If you get into debt and are struggling, it can be hard to know where to turn. But with lots of free, confidential help and advice services available across the UK, there’s no need to use a fee-charging debt management company.

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  • Roy Greenwood / 8 November 2015

    I purchased a funeral plan a few years ago for £2500 which covers everything! The reason for this is because I have 5 children ,I did not wish them to have to decide who pays what,ie they would need to find say £1000 each. 2 would be able to do this,the other 3 would struggle.
    It also lets them all know my wishes that I want to be buried in the local churchyard/cars/ hymens etc . My children all know the plan exists,so it also gives them peace of mind.
    A little known FACT here. If a person is under pensionable age when they die,the Government will help pay for their Funeral.

  • john griffiths / 2 November 2015

    I am interested in taking out some kind of life insurance with funeral costs for peace of mind for my wife and 4 seems like a minefield out there and I don't want to get ripped off and to find a reasonable policy.Could you please advise?

  • Gavin Lindsay / 1 November 2015

    This is a really useful topic to focus attention on an important issue. I have not made specific plans for my own funeral although as I have assets and expect my estate to have some value then the costs will be met by the executors and there will still be an inheritance to distribute amongst my beneficiaries. I think that we all need to hold a conversation though with our families and loved ones about how we wish them to commemorate or celebrate our passing on to the next phase of our existence, or non-existence.
    Well done, MAS for addressing this matter.

  • launa woodruff / 1 November 2015

    very usful information as this is a concern as i get older. i have looked at present funeral plans but have found monthly outlay too expencive for a pensioner, wish there was a cheaper alternative!

  • Mark Hoggan / 1 November 2015

    I find it difficult to understand that the cost of the funeral does not lie with the deceased. The article gives the impression that the funeral costs will fall to the family. Surely the funeral costs will come out of the deceased's estate. If the estate has insufficient funds, then the family may pay/contribute to the costs, however I understand that they are not legally obliged to pay for the funeral, it will fall to the local authority.