The Cost of a Funeral

Information on the costs involved in arranging a funeral

Last updated: 1 August 2019

In the UK the average cost of a funeral is £4,271. The actual cost of a funeral will depend on where you live in the UK, any extra elements you choose to include, and whether you choose a burial or cremation for your loved one. If someone is buried the average cost of a funeral is approximately £4,798, whereas a cremation costs approximately £3,744.

This guide to the cost of a funeral explains all of the expenses you need to consider when arranging your loved one’s send-off, how a funeral director can advise you, and where you can find help with funeral costs.

If you are arranging a funeral for a loved one it is very helpful to compare funeral directors to find the right one for you. You can choose from fixed-price funeral packages or arrange a bespoke funeral with individually-priced services and products.

stacked one pound coins

What are funeral director fees?

Funeral directors charge fees for the services they provide while handling the practicalities of your loved one’s death and arranging their funeral.

Funeral directors support bereaved families by managing the funeral arrangements, including much of the essential paperwork and practical arrangements of collecting and looking after the person who has died. These services can be very helpful and reduce your stress at such an emotionally difficult time.

Many funeral directors provide detailed information about their services and prices on their websites. It can also be helpful to read reviews of funeral directors by other families who have previously used their services, so that you can make an informed decision on the best funeral director for you.

If you are planning to repatriate someone who has died for a funeral overseas the costs can be even more difficult to predict. The procedures, paperwork and costs in the UK and the destination country can vary a lot. This is also true if your loved one died abroad and you would like to bring them home to the UK for their funeral. There are several funeral directors throughout the country that specialise in repatriation.

You can also choose to have your loved one buried at sea, but this is only possible at designated sites and a special licence from the government is required.

What are disbursements?

Disbursements are the costs of a funeral that the funeral director collects on behalf of third-parties, such as florists or celebrants. The funeral director will liaise with these providers to arrange the cremation or burial of your loved one, and everything else you need for a fitting tribute to them. Disbursements are added to the total funeral bill, but your funeral director should provide a clear break down of all of these costs before you agree to them.

Here is a list of common disbursements:

It is important to remember that there are several costs, such as registering a death and purchasing medical certificates, that are not the responsibility of funeral directors.

What are burial costs?

The average cost of burial, with a basic service in a church, before funeral directors fees and disbursements, is £2,174, but varies by location and the popularity of a cemetery, or site within it.* The cost of burial includes obtaining the exclusive right of burial in a plot and the services of gravediggers. Burial in private cemeteries and natural burial grounds can often be more expensive than in ones owned by churches or councils.

What are cremation costs?

The average cost of cremating someone who has died, including a basic service, before funeral directors fees and disbursements, is £832.* This is less expensive than a burial, but the addition of funeral directors’ fees, flowers and other disbursements increases the total of the funeral by several thousand pounds. The specific cost of a cremation depends on whether the crematorium is public or private, and the time and duration of the ceremony.

You can view crematoria throughout the UK on our website. There are additional costs for buying an urn, which our guide to choosing and urn discusses, or other memorial for your loved one, or burying their ashes in a Garden of Remembrance.

A burial plot for ashes in a cemetery with a 50-year lease costs between £100 and £1,700.* It is possible to buy larger plots for two or even four people. Some crematoria also charge for scattering ashes.

There are many other options for preserving ashes, from scattering them at sea or ingraining them in a vinyl record.

Who can help with funeral costs?

Help with funeral costs is available from several sources, such as your loved one’s estate, the government or charities.

Your loved one’s estate

If your loved one had enough funds in their estate, their funeral expenses can be claimed from it during probate. If they died without leaving a will, a bank statement could provide you with information about funeral plans, insurance policies or other assets your loved one may have had.

Banks and building societies will freeze or close individual accounts until the estate has gone through probate and they receive a Letter of Administration to open up access to the funds. Some funeral directors will allow payment to be delayed until your loved one’s assets have been unfrozen, but if not there are a few other options.

Funeral Expenses Payment

You might be eligible for the government’s Funeral Expenses Payment. Eligibility depends on your relationship to the person who has died, your financial resources and whether you receive particular benefits.

  • Pension Credits

  • Housing Benefit

  • Child Tax Credits

  • Income Support

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • Working Tax Credits

The value of your loved one’s estate is considered in the means-test for the Funeral Support Payment.

Budgeting Loan

Budgeting Loans are small, interest-free loans that are repaid directly from your benefits. Your eligibility is dependent on whether you or your partner have been receiving one of the following benefits for the past 26 weeks:

  • Pension Credits

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can apply online for a budgeting loan. If you are in Northern Ireland, you must apply for it via NI Direct

Veterans UK

If your loved one died as a result of serving in HM Forces or was receiving a War Disablement Pension before they died, Veterans UK will contribute to the cost of a simple funeral.

To check eligibility criteria, visit Veterans UK or call their dedicated bereavement line on 0800 1693458.

Benevolent Fund

Depending on your loved one’s occupation, a benevolent fund might be able to help with the cost of their funeral, and provide additional financial and emotional support.

It is possible to arrange a funeral yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so. It can be quite complicated if you have never done it before, so it is a good idea to ask a funeral director for advice before deciding to proceed.

Public Health Funerals

You are not obliged to pay for someone’s funeral, even if you are their next-of-kin. Every local authority has a statutory duty to provide a public health funeral for someone whose closest relatives cannot, or refuse to, pay for it. This might be the case if you are estranged from someone, or did not previously know that you were their next-of-kin.

Which funeral costs are optional extras?

There are a few other costs to consider when you are arranging the funeral for a loved one that are not typically included in a funeral directors fee.

Some funeral directors might include some of these costs, such as use of the Chapel of Rest, in their fees. You can also ask some of the mourners at your loved one’s funeral to be the pallbearers. Your funeral director will discuss all of these options with you sensitively and explain the costs clearly to you.

What is the cheapest type of funeral?

Many funeral directors offer fixed-price funeral packages which include everything required for a basic funeral, including their own fees, under a single figure. These packages range from direct cremation, without a funeral service, to complete services including a coffin, hearse, venue, celebrant and flowers.

A fixed-price funeral package might also include the cost of the cremation or burial. This should be clearly stated in the outline of the package. Some people prefer not to have a funeral at all and choose direct cremation instead, without a service, instead. They might have a still have a memorial service at a later date.

We should probably mention direct cremation briefly as this is the cheapest option for the public.

What is the cost of a funeral for a child?

The fees for cremating or burying a child under the age of 18 in England and Wales is now covered by the government. Some local authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland also waive these fees.

*Sunlife Cost of Dying Report 2018