How to cut the cost of dying

Funeral costs are hitting record highs – here's how to say goodbye to your loved one on a budget

Older couple looking at computer
The cost of losing a loved one could be high
(Image credit: Getty Images/shapecharge)

The cost of dying is on the rise as funeral costs hit a record high.

Research by SunLife shows that after two years of falls, "the cost of a basic funeral in the UK is on the rise again", having increased for the first time in three years. According to the report, it now stands at £4,141.

When considering "professional fees for administering the estate, a basic funeral service, and optional extras such as a wake", the total cost of dying has now reached a record high of £9,658, the financial services company added.

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The rising costs means many struggling families are "forced to take out loans or borrow from friends to be able to put their loved ones to rest", said ThisIsMoney.

However, there are ways to cut the cost of a funeral and reduce the financial burden at an already challenging time. 

How much does a funeral cost?

Increases in both send-off and professional fees means families are now paying an average of £458 more than in 2022, at £4,140 on average for a funeral, said SunLife.

Northern Ireland was the most affordable place to die in the UK, with the average funeral costing £3,256.

London had the highest price, at £5,171, a "mark-up" of 59% from the least to the most expensive region.

The typical cost of a burial is £4,794 and a cremation £3,673, said The Times, while "additional costs" such as catering, flowers, a memorial service and wake can add another £2,669 to the bill. 

It's "no wonder", said Polly Hudson in the Daily Mirror, that low-cost "unattended cremations", or direct cremations, where the ashes are handed to the family afterwards, are becoming "ever more popular" – up from 3% in 2019 to 20% in 2023. 

It may sound "a little cold and depressing", added Hudson, but it may lead to us celebrating the departed "in a much more meaningful, personal way".

How to cut the cost of dying

It’s a "depressing fact", said the Daily Express, that the costs are not over when you die and it's "only getting pricier". To reduce spending, consider using social media instead of announcements in the paper, "and using your own cars instead of limousines".

You can "free up money" by cutting extras such as flowers and catering, added The Times, a cheap coffin is an "easy way to reduce the bill", while holding a wake at home "could help balance the books".

With "careful planning" added ThisIsMoney, you can spare your family "the agony of financing your send-off". 

When thinking ahead, the "easiest option", added the financial website, is to earmark funds for funeral expenses in a savings account. Banks and building societies usually freeze bank accounts when someone dies but can allow family to access funds to pay for a funeral. 

Alternatively, pre-paid funeral plans let you pay for and plan your own send-off in advance, including the coffin and collection of the body, said MoneySavingExpert, "potentially saving your family stress and expense when you die". 

But check the plan includes everything you want and that you are not "spending more than the funeral is worth" if you end up paying the plan off over a number of years rather than upfront. 

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