Can I get Help with Funeral Costs?
The average funeral cost is around £4,000. This is simply not affordable for some people where there are insufficient funds available in the deceased’s estate.
So what happens if you cannot afford to pay for a funeral?
The local council or hospital can arrange a public health funeral if there is not enough money in the estate and there are no relatives or friends available to arrange it.
If, however, the next of kin is willing to arrange the funeral but is not able to pay for it, there are a range of options available :-
- Financial Support Schemes
- Pre-paid Funeral Plan
- Funding provided by charities
- Lower cost funeral options
Financial Support Schemes
- Funeral Expenses Payment
You may be entitled to a funeral expenses payment if you live in England or Wales and you are in receipt of certain benefits and/or tax credits and you need help for a funeral you are arranging.
In addition to being in receipt of means-tested benefits, you need to meet the rules on your relationship with the deceased, namely that you are :-
- The partner of the deceased. This can include an unmarried partner if you lived together, or
- The parent of a stillborn baby, or
- The parent or guardian of a deceased child under 16 (or under 20 in education or training)
If you are a close relative or friend, you may still be able to receive a funeral expenses payment if the deceased did not have a partner when they died. You will not be eligible if there is another close relative of the deceased who is not receiving a qualifying benefit.
The funeral expenses payment will be deducted from any money in the deceased’s estate excluding a house left to their surviving spouse or personal possessions left to relatives.
A funeral expenses payment can help pay for some of the costs of the burial or cremation fees, travel to the funeral, death certificates and medical documentation. You can also apply for up to £1,000 for other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers, or coffin.
The payment may not cover all the costs of the funeral. How much you receive will depend on your circumstances. You will be responsible for the difference between the funeral expenses payment and the actual cost of the funeral.
A funeral expenses payment must be claimed within 6 months of the date of the funeral.
- Bereavement Support Payment
A bereavement support payment is a contributory benefit based on National Insurance contributions of the deceased. This is available to help persons under state pension age whose partner dies. This was previously called Bereavement Allowance or Widow’s Pension. The bereavement support payment is not means-tested but the deceased must have paid national insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year since 1975, or they died because of an accident at work or disease caused by work.
If you were unmarried and living together, you may still be able to apply for a bereavement support payment if you were under state pension age and when your partner died you were eligible for child benefit or were pregnant.
The amount of bereavement support payment you receive will depend on your relationship to the deceased and when you make your claim. If you were the deceased’s partner and receiving child benefit or pregnant you are eligible for the higher rate of £3,500 and up to 18 monthly payments of £350. If you were married and not eligible for child benefit or not pregnant you are eligible for the lower rate of £2,500 and up to 18 monthly payments of £100. You must claim within 3 months of your partner’s death to receive all of the monthly payments and within 12 months of your partner’s death to also receive the first lump sum payment.
- Children’s Funeral Fund
The Children’s Fund can help to pay for burial or cremation fees and contribute up to £300 for a coffin for a funeral for a child under 18 or stillborn baby. This is non means-tested. If eligible, you may also be able to apply for the £1,000 funeral expenses payment discussed above for other funeral expenses.
Pre-paid Funeral Plan
Check whether the deceased had taken out a prepaid funeral plan or funeral bond to cover some or all of the funeral costs or if there is money in an account held by the deceased that could be used.
Even if there is a prepaid funeral plan, you can still apply for a funeral expenses payment if you are eligible and the cost of any of the listed items is not covered by the plan. If there is a funeral plan, the amount allowed as a funeral payment for other funeral expenses is limited to £120.
Funding provided by Charities
Some charities will offer financial help with funeral costs. For example, Care Workers Charity contributes towards funeral costs for those who have worked in the care profession. Friends of the Elderly offer up to £400 towards funeral costs if you are over state pension age and living on a low income with little savings. Other benevolent charities may also assist qualifying persons.
Lower cost Funeral Options
Many funeral directors have a basic or simple funeral package to include only the essential features of a funeral at a lower cost.
We are able to offer advice and guidance to clients on applying for funeral payments. For further information please call to speak to one of our team who will be happy to assist you.