How to pay for a funeral

According to industry figures, the average cost of a funeral is between £2500 – £3000. They can cost more, but of course can also cost much less, but however much it costs, some amount of money will need to be found at the time to pay for disbursements. Our section Funeral Finance Plans looks at one of the options that is prooving quite popular, but there are also different possibilities and potentially money available from the government for those on low incomes who may struggle with such a large one off cost.

The information in the rest of this section is an extract from the Department of Work and Pensions Booklet:

DWP1027 What to do After a Death in England and Wales

Have a look, hopefully you can find what you’re looking for, or at least some contacts that can help you with any questions.

Paying for the funeral

Funerals can be expensive. So remember to check where the money for the funeral will come from before making any arrangements. Otherwise, you may have to pay the bill yourself.

First check whether the person who has died had made any plans to pay for the funeral. The sections below set out some possibilities.

If no one is able or willing to arrange and pay for the funeral, the local council, or in some cases, the health authority, may pay for the funeral, but only where the funeral has not already been arranged.

If someone has arranged to pay for their own funeral

There may be money available to pay for the funeral from money the person has left behind (assets) or through schemes and pensions that they paid into during their life.

After someone dies, their bank account is ‘frozen’, unless it is a joint account. You may be able to use part of their savings to pay for the funeral. The bank will ask you to provide certain documents, which usually include the death certificate.

You should check the person’s papers for a certificate from the Cremation Society, their life-insurance policy or a funeral plan which has already been paid for. You should also look for letters from their past employers with details about any occupational pension scheme or personal pension.
These might cover the cost of the funeral, and also provide other financial support for their surviving husband, wife or civil partner.

If the person was living in hospital or a residential care home, the hospital or home will hand over the person’s belongings (up to a figure fixed by the relevant local authority) to the nearest relative, or to the person who has written permission from whoever is dealing with the will.

Other pensions and payments

There may be pensions or lump sums payable from a trade union, professional body or other association, or from a provident club which pays benefit when a member dies.

If the person was getting a benefit before they died, there may be some of that benefit still due. When you tell the Department for Work and Pensions about the person’s death, ask them to send you a form which you can use to claim any money owed.

If you are the executor, you will be paid this money. If there is no executor but you are paying for the funeral, you can claim up to the cost of the funeral costs.

Employer’s pension schemes or personal pensions

Some employers provide pension schemes through work (occupational pension schemes) that pay a lump sum to help with funeral costs and sometimes pension benefits for a person’s surviving husband, wife or civil partner. You should check to see if the person who died has ever belonged to this sort of scheme. They may have made their own arrangements if they were self-employed, or if their employer did not have an employer’s pension scheme.

If the person was receiving a pension from a previous job, you should find out who is paying it. It might be the employer’s pension scheme or an insurance company. You should tell the representative from that pension scheme about the person’s death, and if the person has a surviving husband, wife or civil partner, dependent child or other dependant, because they may be able to get a pension. If they already receive a pension, they may be able to get more money.

You should find out if there was pension due to be paid when the person retired from a previous employer. If there is a pension, you should check who is responsible for paying it, for example the
employer or an insurance company.

If you have difficulty, you can get help from the Pension Tracing Service.
Phone: 0845 600 2537
Textphone: 0845 300 0169 (For people who find it hard to speak or hear clearly)
These lines are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Life Insurance Policies

The person who died may have taken out a life insurance policy which pays a lump sum if someone dies before a certain age. The lump sum is usually paid after probate but the insurance company may pay out some money when they have proof that the person has died.

The Cremation Society

If the person who died was a member of the Cremation Society, you may be able to pay reduced cremation fees, or the Cremation Society may pay something towards the cost of the cremation.

Funeral payments from the social fund

If you or your partner are on a low income and have to arrange a funeral, you may get some help with the costs.

This is a one-off, tax-free payment to help cover the necessary costs of a funeral.

The Social Fund can help to pay for a simple, respectful, low-cost funeral. This includes:

• the necessary costs of burial or cremation fees
• a new burial plot (if a burial is chosen)
• certain other expenses, and
• up to £700 for any other funeral expenses like funeral director’s fees, a coffin or flowers.

You must claim within 3 months of the date of the funeral.

You or your partner must get one of the following benefits.

• Income Support
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Pension Credit
• Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element
• Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element
• Housing Benefit
• Council Tax Benefit

It must also be reasonable for you or your partner to pay for the funeral.

The circumstances of other relatives of the person who has died may be considered.

Normally the person needs to have been living in the UK when they died and the funeral usually needs to be held in the UK.

If you get a Funeral Payment, you will have to pay this back from any estate of the person who died. Their estate includes money, property and other things that they owned. (Any home that is still lived in by a surviving partner or personal things left to relatives do not form part of the estate.)

To find out more about getting a Funeral Payment, contact Jobcentre Plus by visiting or you can find the address and numbers in your local phone book.

When a war pensioner dies

If the person who died was a war pensioner, you may be able to get help with the cost of a simple funeral if they:

• died from the condition that they were receiving a war pension for
• died in hospital while having treatment for that condition
• were getting war pensioner’s Constant Attendance Allowance at the time of their death, or
• were getting a War Disablement Pension assessed at 80% or more and Unemployability Supplement    at the time of their death.

You will not have to pay any of the money back from the estate of the person who died.

You must claim within 3 months of the funeral.

To claim you need to contact the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency immediately after the funeral.

Phone: 0800 169 2277
Textphone: 0800 169 3458
Monday to Thursday 8.15am to 5.15pm,
Friday 8.15am to 4.30pm.

Other help

The hospital may arrange the funeral of someone who dies in hospital if they cannot trace the person’s relatives, or their relatives can’t afford to pay for the funeral. They may make a claim on the person’s estate to pay for the funeral.

Where the person has not died in hospital and there is no-one who can take responsibility for the funeral, the local council has a duty to bury or cremate someone if no other arrangements have
been made. If they have a reason to think that the person who died did not want to be cremated, they will not arrange a cremation. They may make a claim on the person’s estate to pay for the funeral. Ask your council for more information.