How much does a funeral cost?

Candlelight at funeral

January 24, 2020

One of the more common uses of a life insurance payout is to help cover the costs of a funeral – which can be very expensive.

The cost of a funeral can vary tremendously but the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2020 has suggested that even the most basic of funerals will cost in the region of £1,600.

However, with the rise of ‘disbursement costs’, which are fees that are paid to third parties by the funeral director on the client’s behalf (for example, burial or cremation fees), it is common for the total expense of a funeral to be much higher than this with the average cost coming in at around £4,400.

This figure is up by around £2,500 since SunLife began tracking funeral costs back in 2004, and is likely to continue to rise in the coming years – by 2023, it is anticipated that the average cost of a funeral will exceed £5,000 for the first time.

There are elements to a funeral which have to be paid for (such as a death certificate), but there are also elements which are very much optional. If you are arranging a funeral, you should think carefully about the optional costs, and only commit to what you can afford.

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Below is a breakdown of funeral components and whether they are essential or optional:

Chapel of rest – You are able to have use of the chapel of rest so that family and friends are able to view the body of the deceased. However, this is not compulsory.

Embalmment – This is the hygienic treatment of a body. Embalming is common if the family decided to have the body available to view as it preserves the appearance of the deceased. Embalming is not essential.

Administration – Administration involves the funeral directors making all necessary arrangements and documentation. Most people choose to arrange a funeral by using a funeral director service, meaning a fee has to be paid for administration. However, it is possible to arrange a funeral without a funeral director, as long as there are family and friends who can carry out the process.

Coffin – A coffin (or casket) is essential in a funeral and therefore the cost of buying one is unavoidable. However, some are much more expensive than others, so if you are on a tight budget you could opt for a lower priced one.

Hearse & funeral cars – A hearse is needed to carry the coffin to where the funeral is held. Funeral cars to transport family of the deceased are optional and, as they can be quite expensive, you could make your own arrangements.

Staff – When using a funeral director, they will provide staff for the day of the funeral and the fee for this will be included in the total. An undertaker is present at a funeral, a driver of the hearse and pall-bearers to carry the coffin. Some families decide to have family members carry their loved ones coffin instead of pall-bearers – making them optional.

Death certificate – A death certificate is a required document for a funeral. You can register a death and receive a certificate for a small fee.

Cremation or Burial – The average cost of a cremation is £3,858 and for a burial, it is £4,975. It is entirely your decision on which to have. You could also opt for a cheaper ‘direct cremation’, which involves cremating the body without a ceremony and is priced at roughly £1,712.

With Simplicity Cremations, their prices start from £995 for a direct cremation, or you can arrange to put a more personal prepaid funeral plan in place for when the time comes.

Minister – This could be a minister who works for a funeral director or crematorium, or maybe a priest or other religious official. The fee for hiring someone to perform the funeral service is around £100. It is an optional element to a funeral.

Funeral directors will often offer a package deal for around £1,900 which includes all compulsory elements including disbursement fees. This package can then be tailored to your wishes with elements that are optional.

On top of funeral directors fees, there are also additional services which can be added to a funeral. On average, these services can add around £2,000 to the total cost of a funeral. Prices for each service can vary so you should try to shop around and get quotes before making your final decision. This could help you save money and keep costs down.

READ MORE: Funeral Costs Continue to Rise With Drag Queens and Discos, Among Other Costs.

If you’re planning to leave some money behind to ease the financial burden of a funeral, you should also consider the various other costs that come with saying goodbye to a loved one. While the average cost of a funeral is just under £4,500, the entire ‘cost of dying’ comes closer to the £10,000 mark.

Professional fees such as hiring somebody to administer the estate can easily cost upwards of £2,500, while there are various optional aspects of the final goodbye which can also see costs skyrocket. In 2020 these costs, combining things like memorials, catering, venue hire and flowers, can easily cost in excess of £2,300.

Examples of these additional services and how much they could cost you are:

  • Funeral flowers – £152
  • Memorial headstone/plaque – £871
  • Limousine hire – £305
  • Announcing a death in newspaper – £55
  • Obituary in newspaper – £55
  • Additional limousine for family – £260
  • Order of service – £70
  • Venue hire for wake – £360
  • Catering for wake – £422


To keep costs down when funeral planning, you could opt to make some of the arrangements yourself.

If you are looking for a life insurance policy that best suits your individual needs, visit our life insurance deals page now and get a quote.

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