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Our Guide to Traditional Funeral Costs

Money Savings Advice Our guide to traditional funeral costs

In 2019, the average cost of a traditional funeral with a simple service was £4321. Funeral costs have been rising faster than wages for years, meaning that even pared-back ceremonies can cost a pretty penny.

However, there are many ways in which funeral services – and the cost of a funeral- can vary…and just because traditional-style funerals lean towards convention; it does not mean that they are all the same.

What Affects the Cost of a Traditional Funeral?

Some of the factors which influence the cost of a funeral are fixed, such as where you live in the UK. For example, the average cost of a traditional burial in parts of London is £6685, whereas in Belfast it is £3042.

Type of ServiceAverage Cost
Burial with simple service£4321
Cremation with simple service£3250
Direct cremation (no service)£1700
Source: Royal London Funeral Cost Reports 2019

The cost of a funeral with cremation is on average less expensive than a burial. In contrast, a direct cremation- which does not feature any kind of formal service- is again less expensive. 

The total cost of a funeral is also influenced by the type of service and other optional extras chosen by the deceased’s loved ones. According to insurance provider SunLife, optional extras such as flowers and order of service sheets cost on average more than £2000.

The Average Cost of a Traditional Funeral With Burial Across Different Regions of the UK

RegionCost
London£6685
South East England£4301
East of England£4086
Wales£3994
West Midlands£4801
East Midlands£3751
North West England£4088
Yorkshire & the Humber£4271
North East England£4086
Scotland£3993
Northern Ireland£3042
Sources: Royal London Funeral Cost Reports 2019

Funeral Director’s Expenses

A funeral director provides a professional service helping to plan and make arrangements for the funeral. They also take care of the transport and preparation of the body, as well as form-filling and other administration related to the funeral.

While it is not necessary to have a funeral director, it may help to alleviate the stress of organising a funeral and dealing with the related administration while you are grieving.

You should expect the funeral director’s services to account for at least 50% of the total funeral cost.

When you discuss what you would like at the funeral with a funeral director, they may ask you questions about your preferences and budget to help you tailor the ceremony.

Your choices at this stage will affect the overall cost of the funeral. If you wish to avoid extravagant expenses, you can let the funeral director know, and they will work with you to plan a ceremony around your budget.

Examples of services and expenses taken care of by a funeral director include:

Transportation and Preparation of the Body

A funeral director is usually responsible for collecting the body and respectfully moving it from the hospital mortuary or place of death to the funeral parlour and later to the site of the funeral service. As part of this service, they handle any administration related to the body’s transportation.

Hearse

On the day of the ceremony, the body may be carried to the funeral in a hearse or other ceremonial vehicle. A traditional hearse or limousine normally costs around £300. Many funeral directors also offer traditional horse-drawn carriages to carry the coffin.

This service may cost anything from £1000-£1800, depending on where you live and the size of the carriage.

Coffin

The choice of coffin may have a significant effect on the cost of the service. While a cardboard coffin can cost as little as £100, many American-style padded caskets cost upwards of £3000. Between these two ends of the scale, it is possible to find a solid oak coffin for between £600-£800, eco-friendly wicker coffins or chipboard varieties with a wooden veneer.

Headstone

The funeral director can help to arrange a headstone or memorial plaque. The cost of a headstone or plaque can vary wildly, depending on many factors: such as where the stone is to be located, what it is made from, its size or inscription. The average cost of a headstone is £910, but it is possible for it to cost much less or to spend far more on some elaborate varieties.

Flowers

Many funeral directors offer flower arrangements to decorate the coffin or site of the ceremony. A simple flower arrangement may cost around £200, but this will vary depending on the director as well as the size and type of the arrangement.

The list above should help give you a good idea of the kind of things a funeral director may help to arrange. In reality, many funeral directors offer a much wider range of services than this. If you decide to employ the use of a funeral director, you do not have to use them for everything you want to be included in the ceremony.

For example, if you wanted to provide your flowers, you are free to do so. The purpose of employing a funeral director is to make it easier for the loved ones of the deceased to organise a fitting ceremony- it doesn’t have to be a one-stop-shop.

The Average Cost of Simple Optional Add-Ons

Headstone£910
Catering£408
Limousine£313
Venue Hire£245
Flowers£184
Funeral Notice£78
Obituary£82
Order of Service£88
Copy of death certificate (for probate)£11

Third-Party Expenses

In addition to any services provided by a funeral director, there are also third-party expenses which need to be paid. Unlike the services of a funeral director, some of these are not optional as they relate directly to the burial or cremation of the body.

Disbursement Fees

Disbursement fees’ are the costs paid to a graveyard or crematorium to either bury or cremate a body. The cost of burial is very much dependant on where you live but averages £2033. Cremation fees cost an average of £174.

For burials, this pays for the lease of a plot and the digging and filling of the grave. It may be included in the funeral director’s charges, or you may need to pay the fee directly to the organisation in charge of the graveyard.

Officiant Fees

Officiant fees pay the officiant or clergy to conduct the funeral ceremony.

Medical Certification

If copies of the death certificate are required for administering the will of the deceased, these can be obtained for a cost of £11 each.

When Does It Need to Be Paid?

Third party fees are normally paid for upfront. If you are using a funeral director, they may present this as a deposit for a fixed amount e.g. 50% of the total cost. An invoice will be provided for the remainder after the funeral. 



Who Pays for It?

Many people make provisions for their funeral through a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance. In either of these cases, a family member should contact the service provider to let them know the policy-holder has died so that the funds can be released.

If the deceased made a provision for their funeral in their Will, the executor of the estate is responsible for paying out of the estate.

If there are no financial provisions in place, a close family member may pay for the funeral themselves or family members may pool contributions towards the service.

Help to Pay for a Funeral

If there is no insurance or funeral plan and the surviving family members have a low income or receive means-tested benefits, it is possible to apply for a Funeral Payment from the government.

This is a small grant which can help to pay for a simple ceremony. If money is later released from the estate of the deceased, the grant may be repayable.

The burial or cremation of children, stillborn babies and foetal remains is free in the UK. While you must still pay for other funeral costs, there are third-party disbursement fees for children’s funerals.  

How Do I Find a Reliable Funeral Director?

There is nowhere to hide with the Internet, even for funeral directors! A quick Google of funeral directors in your area will highlight feedback, comments and give you a general idea of the service offered. Many people will stick with funeral directors who have looked after previous family funerals although there is nothing wrong in looking around.

Would the Deceased Have Wanted a Lavish Funeral?

The vast majority of those who pass away often leave instructions that they want a relatively simple funeral and not a lavish ceremony. In reality, a funeral is a way for the living to show their respect for the deceased.

However, rather than spending thousands of pounds on a lavish funeral, maybe the deceased would have preferred their spouse, family and friends to range a relatively low-key ceremony and save their money?

How Many Quotes Should I Obtain for a Funeral?

There is no hard and fast rule, but many people will seek quotes for funeral costs from an independent funeral director and one of the many national chains. You should then be able to compare, and contrast prices, different elements of the funeral and this should help you make your decision.

There is no right amount and no long amount to spend on a funeral; it is down to their immediate family to make these decisions if no instructions have been left.

Money Savings Advice Tip

A funeral plan is great if you want to make sure your family are not left out of pocket when you pass. We recommend getting a whole market quote in order to understand the process and get a plan that financially works for you.

Have You Considered a Prepaid Funeral Plan?

Prepaid funeral plans are certainly growing in popularity as they offer individuals the opportunity to pay for their own funeral while they are still living. While many see this as a morbid subject, it is, unfortunately, a subject we will all have to face at some point. So, with the cost of an average funeral between £4000 and £5000, the ability to freeze the cost of your funeral by taking out a prepaid funeral plan today could prove extremely useful.

Many people have a fear of financial distress for those left behind after their death. How will they find money to bury them, will they be able to cover their own immediate financial obligations in the short to medium-term and how will they cope? A prepaid funeral plan offers a degree of comfort to all parties, although nothing can take away the grieving process.

Do I Need a Funeral Director?

We live in a very different world today compared to 30 or 40 years ago. Upon death, the first thing a family did was contact the local funeral director to start the process. However, for those who may be short of funding or are looking at ways of reducing the cost of a funeral, you can organise it yourself.

There is no legal obligation to employ the services of a funeral director, although, on the other hand, they have experience at organising funerals which is second nature to them.

There are many step-by-step guides to organising a funeral and while not as difficult as it might have been a few years ago, would you be in a fit state of mind going through the grieving process and micromanaging a funeral?

Things to Think About

A funeral can very quickly become an expensive affair. While there is nothing wrong with spending money in order to commemorate your loved one, it is important not to feel pressured into spending what you can’t afford.

Simple tributes, music and thoughtful words can all be used to personalise a simple ceremony and honour the deceased without adding cost to the funeral.

You may wish to get quotes from several funeral directors before settling with one, as there are many options available on the market.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With a Funeral Plan?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Funeral Plan brokers. They have already helped thousands of people get the best Funeral Plan deal and they can do the same for you.

Choosing an independent adviser means they won’t recommend a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. Their advice is also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.

If you would like to speak to one of these brokers who can provide you with a ‘whole market quote’ then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.

Len Burgess

Len Burgess is a professional financial writer who over the last five years has written hundreds of articles for all financial sectors. Len founded Money Savings Advice with the aim of helping consumers navigate their way around the financial world by providing easy to understand financial information and matching consumers with the best financial advisor based on their personal information.

Len Burgess

Len Burgess is a professional financial writer who over the last five years has written hundreds of articles for all financial sectors. Len founded Money Savings Advice with the aim of helping consumers navigate their way around the financial world by providing easy to understand financial information and matching consumers with the best financial advisor based on their personal information.

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