Tackling your debts

Funeral costs – are you prepared? Part 2

Posted 20 July 2015

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As funeral costs look set to rise to an average of £5,200 by 2020, how will you pay if a loved one dies?

Following on from last week, here are some more ways you can get help paying for funeral costs.  

Are you eligible for funeral payments?

Funeral payments are grants awarded by the Government to cover some of the cost. They can be claimed from the date of death, up until three months after the funeral has taken place. If you apply for one of these, how much you’ll get depends on your circumstances and whether the deceased had any kind of funeral plan. It can cover:

burial fees and whether the deceased wanted to be buried in a particular plot (you can choose to be buried in a particular plot if those are your wishes and there is a charge for this, although it’s not essential to so this and usually the funeral director would make these arrangements)

fees for cremation

up to £700 for funeral expenses

travel costs involved in arranging or going to the funeral

the costs for moving the body within the UK 

Have a look on the Government website to check how this grant may help you in more detail.

Who can claim for a funeral payment?

This help is not available to everyone, and to apply you would need to be receiving one of these benefits:

Income Support

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

Housing benefit

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Pension Credit

Child Tax Credit, if your award is high enough

Working Tax Credit, including an extra amount for disability

Universal Credit

Your capital, like savings, doesn't affect a funeral payment.


Local Council and Public Welfare Funeral

Finally, if there’s no one available to organise the funeral, it will be taken care of by the local council. They have a duty to bury anyone who dies within their boundary under the Public health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. If there’s money in the deceased accounts, they’ll be a private funeral. However, if there’s no money left, the council will arrange a Public Welfare Funeral, which will be the most basic service available. 

Are you eligible for Bereavement Payments or Benefits?  

If your partner dies and you’re over the age of 45, but under pensionable age, you could be entitled to benefits. They could help you through a tough financial time. You can find out more about who can claim on the Government’s webpage on the subject.  

Could you be eligible for help from a charity or benevolent fund?

There are number of charities that can offer help with the payment of funeral costs. However, most of these are from specific charities, who offer help to those suffering from certain diseases and their families, like the grant offered by Macmillan Cancer Support or meet other specific criteria, such as being under a certain age, like the help offered by the Child Funeral Charity.  

And certain occupations have benevolent funds available that can be used for funeral costs. An example of this is the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Trust Fund.  


Debts left by the deceased

If your loved one died leaving debts they took out in their name only, the liability remains theirs alone. However, any joint debts will most likely become the responsibility of whoever they were taken out with. If you’re concerned about debts left by a loved one, why not have a look at our blog – What happens to your debts when you die?

So, if you do find yourself suddenly having to pay a large funeral bill, we hope this has helped you feel a little more comfortable about how you’ll do that. And if you feel you need further advice, or a friendly ear, there are a number of bereavement charities, such as Cruse, who can offer assistance.





by Christine Walsh

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