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13 years of cost increases: Who will cover the funeral bill?
Published 11 October 2016 by Linzi Nuttall
How much will a funeral cost and how can the Government help if you’re in a low income household?
No one likes to have to deal with funerals. After all, losing a loved one will be one of the most difficult things we deal with in our lifetimes. It’s tough saying a last goodbye and it’s likely you’ll want a fitting tribute to your beloved friend or family member, but what about covering the funeral costs?
According to research from one insurer, funeral costs have risen for the last 13 years, with the average spend projected to increase 22% by 2026. The average burial cost is now £4,356 and a cremation costs £3,437 excluding the coffin, service and funeral cars. Let’s take a look at who could struggle the most with funeral costs and how you could get extra help.
18-34 year olds hit hardest
With escalating costs, those who believed their estate would cover their plans could be leaving their children and loved ones a shortfall to front. Surprisingly, the research shows that it’s 18-34 year olds who are hit hardest in picking up funeral bills. Four in 10 of these have resorted to credit cards to cover these costs, while more than a quarter are using payday loans. All in all, 2.7 million of us are using some form of credit to fund funerals.
Fronting the bill
With a fifth of Brits revealing they’re not sure who would pay for their funeral, it’s possible you could end up with the responsibility if you lost a loved one. Many of us are using our savings to cover the costs, with over a quarter of us choosing this option. 10% access an emergency fund or savings, while others borrow cash from friends.
So if you’re a family member, next of kin or close friend of a person who has passed and they didn’t have a prepaid funeral plan or funeral insurance in place, then you’ll have to recover some of the cost from their estate (this is their savings, their property or anything else they own).
Speak with the deceased’s bank, building society or whoever held their account. Trace their details through statements and letters to see if funds can be released to the administrator or executor. In most cases, they’ll agree to this. If this was your partner and you held a joint account together, you can access the whole account as joint owner.
If your friend or relative was a thinkmoney customer, one of our Money Managers will be here to take your call during this difficult time.
Help with funeral costs
If there’s still a shortfall or no access to help fund a funeral at all, then those on low incomes already claiming benefit or tax credits can access the Government Funeral Payments scheme. To be eligible, you’ll need to prove, you’re directly responsible for the funeral and that the deceased was a close relative, friend or parent.
There are some terms and conditions for the Funeral Payments scheme: for example, each application payout amount will be determined on your personal circumstances and evaluated against any money or property your loved one had. It won’t include the home occupied by a remaining partner, or any possessions they left.
If the responsibility of a funeral has been left to you, then you’ll want to respect any wishes or instructions of the deceased while not breaking the bank. First, speak with close family or friends to see if they would like to contribute. You could set up a Facebook page in memory of your loved one, add pictures, quotes and link it to a PayPal account to raise emergency funds. Perhaps you could have a car boot sale, or do a sponsored event.
You can also speak to the funeral director – they might agree to be paid in instalments following an initial sum up front. Think about the type of coffin, car, and flowers, as there will be various options available to meet all budgets.
You could also consider the help of a charity, especially if your loved one was suffering a terminal illness. Some charities raise funds to assist those in financial hardship and this could include funeral costs too. Look online and enquire further with the charity or association that took care of your loved one.