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Arranging and paying for a funeral: The things you need to know

Posted by Nigel Merchant | 13-Apr-2022 11:15:00

Arranging a funeral is a task that needs to be completed upon a death, but it can make an already difficult time even more stressful for those dealing with a bereavement. We appreciate that there is a lot to think about, so we have created this blog post to outline what is involved in arranging a funeral and how you can afford the funeral expenses.

Arranging the funeral

To start with, a range of decisions will need to be made by the deceased’s loved ones in order to arrange the funeral. Some of the main points of consideration include:

  • Whether the person will be buried or cremated
  • Where and when the funeral should take place
  • What readings and music you would like during the service
  • Whether flowers are required/welcomed and if so what kind

The deceased may have left a written record of their funeral wishes or discussed this with family and friends during their lifetime, so it is important to check this before beginning to arrange the funeral if possible. However, funeral arrangements sometimes start before the Will has been retrieved, which may detail their preferences for the day.

Most families will seek the help of a professional Funeral Director to take care of the arrangements. Funeral fees can vary considerably so it may be beneficial to shop around and obtain detailed quotes from various Funeral Directors. 

We recommend checking whether the Funeral Director is a member of a trade association. Most Funeral Directors will be a member of either the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) or the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD).

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How have funeral costs changed?

A report from SunLife shows that funeral costs were down in 2021 for the first time in years. From 2020 to 2021, the cost of a basic funeral decreased by 3.1%, averaging at £4,056. However, this is still significantly more expensive than it has been previously; in comparison, in 2005 it was possible to pay less than £2,000 for a standard funeral. Therefore, despite this recent decrease, it’s likely that funeral costs will keep rising in the future. This demonstrates why it’s so important to consider the cost of a funeral and how it will be paid.

How to pay for a funeral

Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?

Paying for a funeral is not always the responsibility of the deceased’s loved ones, as the estate can cover the cost if there are sufficient funds to pay the bill.

The relative or friend arranging the funeral may be able to access funds from the deceased’s bank account to pay for the funeral directly. However, this is not always possible due to the complexities that can arise when accessing the deceased’s account, in which case any reasonable expenses incurred can be reimbursed from the estate at a later date. 

In some cases, the deceased may have already paid for their funeral or left money in their estate to cover it. If this is the case, the Executor (if there’s a Will) or Administrator (if there’s no Will) of the estate will typically take care of paying the funeral bill. Otherwise, as detailed above, the cost usually falls to a relative or friend, who can then claim this back from the estate.

Other options available when the above methods of paying aren’t possible include:

Public Health Funeral

If there are not sufficient funds in the estate to cover the funeral and the loved ones are unable to pay for the funeral themselves, financial help may be available. A Public Health Funeral may be arranged if there are no family members or friends available to make the arrangements and there is not enough money in the estate to pay for the funeral. If a Public Health Funeral is arranged, it will normally be a cremation with a short service and the date and time will be decided by the local authority. Any extras such as cars and flowers are not included but loved ones are allowed to attend the funeral.

Funeral Expenses Payment

A government scheme is also available to help those with low income. Close relatives or friends of the deceased may be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment if they receive certain benefits or tax credits. It is important to note that a Funeral Expenses Payment tends to be taken from any money you inherit from the estate, and it is not likely to cover all the costs of the funeral. Claims must be made within 6 months of the funeral, but they can be made before the funeral if an invoice has been received from the Funeral Director.

How you can plan for your funeral in your lifetime

There are various options available to you when planning for your own funeral. These include:

Pre-paid funeral plan

A pre-paid funeral plan allows you to pay for a funeral service in advance of your death and at the current price point, relieving you and your loved ones of any future inflation. This agreement is made between you and your chosen funeral plan provider.

This option provides you with peace of mind, as you can rest assured that your family and/or friends will have some of the stressful bereavement tasks taken away from them. In addition, it allows an individual to have some say in the details of their own funeral, which is a comfort for many.

However, some funeral costs (e.g. services held elsewhere to the cremation) cannot be covered in advance or are not in the control of the funeral plan provider. Therefore, this does not necessarily relieve your family of all financial liability upon your death.

Click here to read our blog on 3 unusual ways you can leave your mark when you pass away.

Over 50s plan

An over 50s plan/over 50s life insurance is a type of policy designed for those aged 50-80, providing them with an affordable way to leave funds for their funeral costs; a monthly premium is paid until you reach a certain age (dependent on the insurance provider) or pass away. Upon death, the whole amount is paid out to your loved ones.

This type of plan also provides peace of mind, as it is guaranteed that your family will receive the funds upon your death. These policies can have quite a low price point and the payout can be enough to cover the funeral costs and beyond in some circumstances.

Unfortunately, it cannot be guaranteed that the funds accumulated will cover the whole cost of the funeral, and unlike a funeral plan, this policy isn’t protected against future inflation.


Kings Court Trust is an award-winning probate and estate administration provider and can handle the process of sorting out a person’s legal and tax affairs after they have died. The family of the deceased can appoint Kings Court Trust to handle the full estate administration process, relieving them of stress and liability during a bereavement. When we are appointed to administer the estate, we can take care of the funeral costs. If the family wishes to retain control of the estate administration process, Kings Court Trust can support in obtaining the Grant of Probate on their behalf. Click here to find out more about all of our estate solutions.

If you have any questions regarding estate administration, call our Client Services Team on 0300 303 9000 or email ClientServicesTeam@kctrust.co.uk.

Author: Nigel Merchant

Nigel Merchant is a Technical Manager at Kings Court Trust, where he has worked for over 15 years. Nigel has conducted over 2,000 family meetings and built up a huge amount of technical knowledge to share with partners and clients. Nigel has a calm and empathetic delivery which helps to achieve the business’ purpose of helping families to move on. Previously, Nigel worked at HSBC bank for over 25 years in the branch network, lastly as a Branch Manager and Personal Banking Manager, highlighting that customer service is a key driver for Nigel.

Topics: Estate Administration, Funeral