Funeral Costs - update

A Blog by Revd Cassius Francis

Revd Cassius Francis is the Just Finance Development Worker for the Black Country with Transforming Communities Together (TCT) and he is a minister with the Wesleyan Holiness Church.

An updated blog about funeral costs…

Following a recent webinar that I hosted for my church, ‘Pandemic Bereavement Recovery’ (below) I received a query about funeral costs. I have written on this issue before, but I thought I would update comments based on the query I received.

Funeral Costs Pic

Firstly, I am always keen to stress that dealing with finances at a time of bereavement must be incredibly stressful, and those left behind may feel under pressure to make quick decisions and reflect on costs later. With this in mind, my encouragement is always to plan in advance as far as possible. There is free help and advice available to help you with planning your own funeral. This may feel morbid, and many may not feel that it is appropriate to talk about death, but in the long run you are likely to save your family and those left behind the stress of having to make complex decisions on your behalf. But also, please access local bereavement support if you are struggling. AtaLoss.org is one signposting charity for the bereaved that I can recommend.

If the family of the deceased are left to make arrangements and pay for the funeral they can check if they’re eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment from the government (see below). The Local Authority (LA) will usually bury a resident if there is not enough money in the estate to pay for the funeral or there are no relatives who can pay for it. However, an LA funeral is organised entirely by the LA - they decide when and where and the costs are minimal. They will also not usually pay for additions like flowers etc.

Get help with funeral costs (Funeral Expenses Payment)

Eligibility

You can get a Funeral Expenses Payment if all of the following apply:

  • you get certain benefits or tax credits
  • you meet the rules on your relationship with the deceased
  • you're arranging a funeral in the uk, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switerland

Local Authority Bereavement Services

The other options to consider are -

  • Claiming back the cost of the funeral from the deceased’s estate
  • Arrange for the funeral to be paid for from the deceased’s bank account
  • Come to an arrangement with the undertakers to pay by instalments – this would be better than taking a loan if the undertaker agrees to this because it’s often interest free. They may however, refer you to a lender, in which case they should arrange their own finance as they could get borrowing cheaper. Perhaps have a look at the local credit union or check other options for financing.
  • The family could try search on Turn 2 Us Grant website - some of the charities do offer monetary help for this sort of issue https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk
  • It is worth noting that funeral plans are currently unregulated - see further info here You can also find helpful information about funeral plans explained by Which? and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

There is further helpful guidance listed on the Just Finance Foundation website https://www.justfinancefoundation.org.uk/coronavirus-funeral-costs And in the Black Country I am aware of Walsall Bereavement Support Service and Dudley’s https://lets-get.com/explore/bereavement/ (below). Comprehensive information can be found on the Dying Matters website www.dyingmatters.org, and also the Birmingham-based https://brumyodo.org.uk/

It is also worth noting that campaigning for fairer funeral financing has not stopped. The Fair Funerals pledge was originally launched in 2015 by the charity Quaker Social Action, as part of the Fair Funerals campaign. ‘The aim of the pledge was to encourage funeral directors across the UK to address the national funeral poverty crisis from within the funeral industry itself. By signing the pledge, funeral directors were recognising that funerals can be expensive and many people struggle with the cost. In doing so they were also making a voluntary commitment to be open about their most affordable options and to help people find funerals within their means.’ By September 2019, over 1,700 UK funeral director branches had signed the pledge; approximately 35% of the UK total. See more here - https://fairfuneralscampaign.org.uk/

Thanks to Anne Horder, Lead for Palliative Care, End of Life and Bereavement with Dudley Council Public Health and Elaine Bowes from Pentecostal Credit Union for their contributions in researching for this updated blog.

Revd Cassius Francis is the Just Finance Development Worker for the Black Country with Transforming Communities Together (TCT) and he is a minister with the Wesleyan Holiness Church. Please see more at www.tctogether.org.uk

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