Who pays for the funeral

Unless the person who died made provision for their funeral, family or friends will usually pay. Costs can usually be reclaimed from the estate if there’s enough money to cover it. If there isn’t enough money to pay for the funeral and there are no relatives or friends who can arrange the funeral, the local council or hospital can arrange a simple public health funeral. Be aware that you won't have much control over a public health funeral - you won't be able to choose where or when it takes place, for example.

Help paying for the funeral

If your income is low, you might be able to get a Funeral Expenses Payment to help meet the costs of the funeral. You’ll usually have to pay back any money you’re awarded from the estate of the person who died. To qualify, you’ll need to:

  • apply for it within six months of the funeral
  • be receiving certain benefits (see Gov.uk for a full list of qualifying benefits). If you’re claiming as a close relative and another close relative of the person who died isn’t getting one of these benefits, you usually won’t qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment.
  • meet rules about how you’re related to the person who died (see Gov.uk for the rules in full).

Funeral Expenses Payments can only be used to cover certain funeral costs:

  • burial plot and fees or cremation fees, including the doctor’s certificate
  • one return journey to attend or arrange the funeral
  • the cost of moving the body within the UK, for the part of the journey over 50 miles
  • up to £700 for other funeral expenses, such as the coffin, flowers, funeral director’s fees, or the cost of transporting the body 50 miles or less.

If the person who died had a pre-paid funeral plan, you’ll only be able to get up to £120 for items not covered by the plan.

The amount you get from a Funeral Expenses Payment varies, but usually won’t cover the full cost of even a simple funeral, so you’ll need to find other ways to meet any outstanding costs. You may be able to get a budgeting loan from the Social Fund (or budgeting advance if you’re getting Universal Credit) or a grant from a charity. For more information, see our factsheet Extra help with essential costs if you're on a low income.

To apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment, call the Bereavement Service Helpline on 0800 731 0469 or download a claim form from Gov.uk.

Reducing the cost of a funeral

There are various things you can do to keep the costs of a funeral under control. If you’re using a funeral director:

  • get quotes from a number of funeral directors or try a price comparison website
  • ask for a breakdown of the costs so you can check for hidden charges
  • don’t sign a contract with the funeral director until you’re sure you want to use them and you know how the funeral will be paid for.

Make sure you choose a funeral director who is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. Members of these professional associations have to provide you with a price list if you request it.

Funeral director’s fees are usually the largest funeral cost, so arranging the funeral yourself could save you money, but you would then have a lot more to organise.

Take time to consider what you want the funeral to be like. A more expensive funeral won’t necessarily be better. The person who died may have wanted some traditional elements of a funeral but not been so worried about others. For example, funeral flowers cost £152 on average. Do you really want them? You could consider alternative decorations that might be a more personal tribute.

Direct cremation or burial

You could consider direct burial or direct cremation, although not all funeral directors offer this option. There will be no ceremony, viewing, hearse, or procession to the funeral. The body will be collected and cremated or buried by the funeral directors at a less popular time of day. This option won’t feel right to everyone, but you could still choose to hold a memorial service at a later date in a way that might suit you better than a funeral.

The Money Advice Service and The Natural Death Centre have more tips on keeping down the costs of a funeral.

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