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What happens if you can't pay for a funeral?

The average cost of a traditional funeral has increased in recent years. The price of a burial now averages at £4,321 while the cost of a cremation is around £3,266. These prices can sometimes be overwhelming in times of mourning, especially if the deceased has not arranged a prepaid funeral plan. However, there are a number of options for those who cannot afford to pay for a loved one's funeral.

Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?

The task of organising and paying a funeral usually falls to the person or people named in the deceased's will as their executors. However, in some cases - if people die without a will, for example - it's generally expected that their nearest relatives will help to organise the funeral. This doesn't necessarily mean that these are the people who would pay for the funeral costs, though.

Usually, the expenses for the funeral will be derived from the estate of the deceased - so this is typically handled by the solicitors involved with managing the estate. However, it should be noted that the nearest relatives - or those listed in the will - are financially responsible for the funeral should the estate not contain enough to cover the funeral costs. If the deceased has made a prepaid funeral plan, this could mean the funeral has been fully or mostly paid for - depending on when they died - which alleviates the financial responsibility from the nearest relatives or loved ones.

However, there are some instances where the departed has not set aside enough money for the ceremony - in these cases, there are other options to help with funeral payments:

How to pay for a funeral

Funeral Expenses Payment

The Funeral Expenses Payment was created by the Government to help low income families celebrate the life of a loved one. The lump sum of the payment can be paid straight into your bank account if you've already paid for the ceremony - if not the money is paid directly to the funeral organiser. The payment from the government can cover the cost of the following:

  • Burial fees for a particular plot
  • Cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor's certificate
  • Travel to arrange or go to the funeral
  • The cost of moving the body within the UK, if it's being moved more than 50 miles
  • Death certificates or other documents

You may qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment if you receive certain benefits from the Government and are unable to pay for the funeral yourself. If you receive one of the following benefits, you may be eligible:

  • 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
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

If you believe you qualify for the Funeral Expenses Payment, visit GOV.UK where you will find more information on application.

Public Health Funeral

For people who have passed with no next of kin, or have no friends or family willing to pay, local authorities are required to provide state funded funerals. Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, local authorities will have to arrange a burial or cremation. It is worth noting that the local authority will make a reasonable attempt to find the next of kin - if they find the next of kin, a public health funeral will only take place if they cannot afford funeral costs or are unable or unwilling to make such arrangements.

Children's Funeral Fund

If you are arranging the funeral service for someone under the age of 18, you won't need to pay for a standard burial or cremation fees. However, it is worth noting that the Children's Funeral Fund does not include the cost of the funeral directors, flowers or the memorial ceremony. You will receive a £300 contribution towards the coffin.

Bereavement Support Payment

If a spouse or civil partner has died within the last 21 months, you are likely to qualify or the Bereavement Support Payment. You are eligible if:

  • Your partner paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year
  • Your partner died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work

When they died you must have been:

  • Under State Pension age
  • Living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits

For more information on the Bereavement Support Payment, go to GOV.UK.

How to manage funeral costs

If you're concerned about how your family and friends will pay for your funeral once you are gone, a pre-paid funeral plan could help ease your mind. Not only will a prepaid funeral plan help to spread the rising costs of funerals over a few years, but your loved ones will not be affected by the rising costs of funerals as Open Pre-Paid Funerals operate at fixed costs.

Choose from our range of plans including the Simple plan, the Direct Cremation plan, or create one of our bespoke packages. For more information on our prepaid funeral plans, get in touch with our expert team today.

  • Posted 27th May 2021
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