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Millions in the UK choosing not to have a funeral to save money

Almost 3 million* people over the age of 50 in the UK don’t plan to have a funeral, according to our research.

Written by Ines Pena

April 2024

Why are people choosing not to have a funeral?

Our research gives a valuable insight into the current state of funeral costs.

Out of all our survey respondents, 13% said they simply couldn’t afford to pay for their own funeral, and 28% said they didn’t want their family and friends to have to pay.

Many people felt that having money for their retirement was more important than being able to pay for a funeral. In fact, over a third of those who said they didn’t plan to have a funeral were worried about not having enough savings to live comfortably, especially given the rise in cost of living.

Many of those who are planning on still having a funeral have thought about ways to reduce costs.

Almost half of the respondents said that they’d go with the cheaper option of cremation over burial and a third said they’d save money by opting for a simple casket. One in 10 respondents told us they’d consider donating their body to science.

The cost of having a funeral

Given how much the cost of living has gone up in recent years and the toll it’s had on the financial wellbeing of households across the country, our findings are perhaps not too surprising. Paying for a funeral, or expecting family members to foot the bill, can seem like a luxury when money is tight.

According to SunLife’s most recent Cost of Dying report, the average cost of a basic funeral in the UK has risen to around £4,141, up from £3,953 in 2023. SunLife estimates the overall cost of dying (which includes other costs, such as professional fees for administering the estate and holding a wake) has reached an all-time high of £9,658.

The rise in funeral costs, along with wages not always keeping up with inflation, has made it difficult for many people to afford to give their family members the funeral they deserve. Some families are even turning to crowdfunding to help pay for relatives’ funerals.

How over-50s life insurance can help reduce funeral poverty

OneFamily’s Director of Protection, Ryan Griffin, was saddened by the research.

“Funeral poverty is a very real problem, it’s quite shocking that 2.8 million people believe they can’t find a way to allow their families to celebrate their life. It’s part of the grieving process,” he said.

Ryan believes the fact 79% of respondents said they didn’t have over-50s life insurance, is partly to blame for the funeral poverty findings.

“Our research found nearly four in 10 people aged over 50 thought life insurance would be too expensive, yet OneFamily’s premiums start from as little as £10 a month,” he explains.

“Equally, one in 10 said they didn’t understand what the benefits were and others said they don’t have over-50s cover because they have a pre-existing condition, yet we don’t require a medical and there’s guaranteed acceptance.”

Over-50s life insurance is only available to people over 50 and is guaranteed to pay out when you die, so you don’t have to worry about outliving the term of your policy. You also don’t need to undergo medical checks to get approved for over-50s life insurance.

Some providers, including OneFamily, can help guarantee that the payout from your over-50s life insurance will go directly towards paying for your funeral.

Our Over 50s Life Cover even offers Funeral Funding, which means that the payout goes directly to the funeral director to cover the cost of your funeral first, with anything left being paid to your estate. If your family members choose a Golden Charter appointed funeral director, they’ll contribute an extra £300 towards your funeral.


OneFamily Over 50s Life Cover

Our Defaqto 5-star rated life cover offers Funeral Funding, Terminal Illness cover and a range of support services to help support you and your family.

Explore Over 50s Life Cover

* All research conducted by Opinium, on behalf of OneFamily, between 14th and 19th February 2024 among a sample of 2,000 UK adults aged over 50. There are approximately 25,707,500 over 50s in the population. 11% in our nationally representative survey of over 50s said they don’t plan to have a funeral. 11% of 25,707,500 is 2,827,825.

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