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Leaving money for your funeral

Have you thought about leaving money for your funeral? If not, friends or family could be left with the bill.

In 2012 the average cost of a basic burial in the UK in was £4,314 [1].

The cost of dying in 2012, taking into account the costs of a funeral and estate administration, was an average of £7,114 [2].

Funeral expenses

When you die, your burial or cremation will need to take place within days – and be paid for promptly. The person organising the funeral (usually your closest living relative) may have to cover the bill.

If your assets (property and belongings) need to be sold off and any debts paid first, your relative may have to wait months or years to get reimbursed. If your assets don’t cover your debts they may not get reimbursed at all.

Help with funeral costs

There are some common ways people leave money to help pay for their funerals.


It seems like a good idea to leave money in a savings account or similar to pay for your funeral. But, unless it’s a joint account, your relatives might not be able to access it after your death for several weeks. Some banks or building societies release funds quickly, but others will freeze an account until probate is granted – which can take weeks. (Probate is the legal authority to wind up the affairs of someone who has died.)

Funeral plans

If you have a funeral plan the cost of your funeral will be covered by the plan and the funds paid directly to the funeral home. A funeral plan is an agreement that makes sure your funeral expenses are paid quickly and fully. You pay a set amount to buy the plan. Then the plan provider pays directly for your funeral when you die. You can pay for a funeral plan either with a lump sum or in instalments over several months or years.

The main benefit of a funeral plan is that the cost of your funeral is covered even if prices have gone up by the time you die – even if it costs more than you paid into the plan. Although there can often be other costs not covered by the plan, such as buying a burial plots and paying for flowers. Payment is also made quickly and directly to the funeral home.

Over-50s whole of life insurance

A lot of people take out over-50s whole of life insurance to help pay for their funerals. You choose the amount you want to be insured for (ie the total amount that gets paid out). Then you pay a regular premium until the policy pays out. It’s a good way to spread the cost, even though there’s no guarantee that the amount you are insured for will cover the full cost when the time comes.

If you have over-50s whole of life insurance with a friendly society, and have named your relative as a nominated beneficiary, he or she should be able to access up to £5,000 to help pay for your funeral. Some whole of life insurance also includes a specific funeral funding option which may give an extra payment towards funeral expenses.

1 Engage Mutual (May, 2012), “Funeral Costs Report 2012″ [online]. Available from www.engagemutual.com
2 Sunlife Direct (June, 2012) “Cost of Dying Report 2012″ [online]. Available from www,sunlifedirect.co.uk

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.