Updated 12 April 2022
Organising a funeral can be more expensive than you realise.
Whether you’re looking to arrange a funeral yourself or are getting the help of a funeral director, it’s important to understand what the common costs of arranging funerals are.
Arranging a funeral can be expensive. With the average cost of a burial coming to around £4,383 and a cremation averaging £3,290, the added financial strains of organising funerals can cause difficulties for the individuals organising them.
But whether you’re letting a funeral director handle some or all of the responsibilities, or you’re arranging the funeral yourself, there are a few ways to break down the costs into more affordable alternatives.
Funeral directors’ fees usually make up the bulk of any outgoings. Funeral directors arrange almost all aspects of a funeral, from the logistics to the ceremony itself and even some of the administration. But because you’ll be delegating responsibility to a director to arrange the funeral, you’ll need to spend sometimes as much as 50-66% of the total costs on fees.
While this option can take the stress away, it isn’t always the most cost-effective way of organising a funeral, as organising it yourself will almost always be cheaper.
You should always get quotes from more than two funeral directors before making any decision. Remember that local or more independent funeral directors may be able to carry out the service at a more affordable rate.
To arrange a burial, you will need to consider the costs of buying coffins, finding a burial plot and any additional fees that come with it. The costs of a coffin will vary greatly depending on the material and decoration you want to come with it, but a cardboard coffin can be found as cheaply as £100.
Burial fees cover the cost of securing a burial plot, and the digging and filling of the plot. These fees will normally be the costliest outgoing of a burial. While the exact fee varies depending on what part of the country you live in, the average amount of burial fees to be paid are £2,076.
You should also keep in the mind the cost of headstones. Depending on the style and material of the headstone, costs can vary.
While upright headstones are the most traditional design and cost between £800 and £1,200, opting for a kerbed headstone will set you back a little more, with these often in excess of £2,000. The smallest and most affordable option is a flat headstone, which costs around £400.
Cremations are normally slightly less expensive, but there are still fees to bear in mind. On average, cremations can cost as little as £823. This cost covers cremation fees, but not always the fees associated with additional paperwork and administration – such as medical referee certificates and death certification, for example – that may be required.
If you’ll be keeping a loved one’s ashes, you will also need an urn, which will vary in cost depending on what you’re looking for, but can be found for less than £100.
There is also the additional flexibility of having a direct funeral without a ceremony at all. While these are usually unattended, a small family group can be present. Different direct cremations will include different elements as part of the service, so prices can differ.
Funeral ceremonies are usually hoped to be a reflection of the person, so depending on the number of attendees and individual preferences, a ceremony can vary in price. For example, you will need to find a suitable venue if the burial plot or crematorium doesn’t have suitable facilities.
For a smaller affair, a venue could come at a more affordable price, whereas a larger gathering will cost more.
It’s also traditional for catering to be offered at a ceremony. Whether you look to offer a meal, some simple sandwiches or even head to a local restaurant for some food, you will need to consider the costs associated with hiring caterers, providing your own food or hiring a venue.
Transportation of a loved one is traditionally done by a hearse, so depending on your preferences, you could hire a motor car to transport the loved one. If you decide to lay on additional cars, these will also come with extra costs.
Regardless of how much your chosen funeral costs, it can sometimes put added strain on a person to try and arrange a funeral on their own. There are a few different ways to go about reducing costs while still having a personal funeral.
Funeral plans help loved ones prepare for their funerals in advance and can ease the financial strain of arranging a ceremony.
A pre-paid funeral plan is agreed with an individual and can cover everything from funeral wishes to burial location to even decoration. The level of coverage is entirely up to the individual and their closest relatives.
Once an individual has passed away, the funeral plan is already arranged and is put into place, aiming to alleviate some of the stress and strain from loved ones. However, funeral plans aren’t cheap and in 2020, the average price for a funeral plan was £9,493.
Life insurance is different in that while it does make a contribution towards an individual’s funeral plans, it won’t necessarily cover everything.
Often called over-50s plans, life insurance involves an individual paying out regular payments to an insurer who, in turn, pays a lump sum on the individual’s death. However, as these monthly payments are made until your passing, you could end up paying in more than you get back.
Some people may set aside a lump sum in their will to their loved ones to help cover the costs of a person’s desired funeral. This may cover a part or the whole sum of a funeral, but legally, you don’t have to follow through with an individual’s funeral wishes.
If an individual has a savings account, but has not made provisions in their will to nominate someone to inherit this money, a loved one or relative can still be given these funds. An administrator can appoint a loved one to inherit the funds which could then be used to help cover the costs of a funeral.
There are ways to keep costs down when organising a funeral. As the process involves lots of smaller expenses, there are ways for individuals to keep costs low.
Whether an individual helps cover the cost of a funeral through insurance or a funeral plan, or the organisers of a funeral plan it without a funeral director, there are ways to save money.
If you found this article informative, you might also find our article on DIY funerals useful, too.