The cost of a funeral: Guest Post

This is a guest post written by Juliette Kay

One of the biggest expenses that you may occur in life is one that you’ll never actually have to pay for—but your family will. It’s your funeral expenses, and the true cost of a funeral may surprise you. Here’s a rough breakdown of what you might expect to pay for various funeral options.

cost of a funeral

The average funeral, according to the 2014 Sun Life Direct Cost of Dying Reportcan cost as much as £3,590. Adding in discretionary funeral costs, and expenses associated with the administration of the deceased’s estate, the final total can rise to more than £8,000.

The Cost of a funeral: Burial Versus Cremation

The choice of whether to be buried or cremated is a deeply personal one; some people prefer one or the other, while other people don’t have a preference. If cost is the deciding factor it’s definitely important to look at what you can expect to pay for each of the various options. In the UK, the average cremation costs between £500 and £600, but a burial can cost more than twice as much: around £1,500. The costs can vary quite widely depending on the type of container that is chosen for the deceased’s remains. For example, inexpensive urns start at around £25, while the cheapest caskets and coffins, which are made of cardboard, start at £100. These are just the starting costs, however: if the deceased is to be buried, there are additional expenses, including the cost of land for burial. A plot of land isn’t owned in perpetuity; typically the right of burial is purchased for 50 to 99 years, with the option to extend the term of the contract. The cost of a burial plot differs depending on location; for example the Liverpool city council charges £854 for residents and £1,708 for non-residents, while the Royal Borough of Greenwich (London) charges £1,675 for residents and £4,400 for non-residents.

Funeral Service Fees

There are also various costs associated with arranging and hosting a funeral. Depending on the choices you make, the costs of a funeral service might include:

  • The cost of hiring a funeral director typically includes the use of a hearse and a basic coffin, as well as the cost of the service and venue hire. National Association of Funeral Directors estimates the typical cost for this at around £1,515.

  • A Church of England minister’s fee and churchyard burial can be up to £295.

  • Hiring a celebrant typically costs between £150 and £200.

  • If choosing a cremation, two doctors must sign a certificate of medical attendant, and confirmatory medical certificate, at a cost of £80 for each.

  • Flowers are by no means essential for a funeral, but they continue to be traditional for most services. Depending on location and vendor choice a typical funeral flower arrangement can cost between £35 and £270.

  • Having an organist play at a funeral is another popular choice for a traditional ceremony; depending on the venue an organist’s services may be included in a funeral director’s fee. In other cases hiring an organist may incur a separate costs.

  • Most funerals are followed by a wake but there are no rules about how formal or expensive a wake should be. It can be difficult to estimate the cost of a wake, since it’s not easy to predict how many people will be in attendance.

  • Newspaper notices incur a nominal fee if the notices are in local papers, but you might pay as much as £30 for a notice of death in a nationwide paper.

Financial Preparation for Your Own Funeral

Nobody really likes to think about what’s going to happen after they die, but this kind of financial preparation is important in order to prevent undue stress and strain for your loved ones at an already difficult time.

Many funeral expenses can be reduced to accommodate a tight budget; for example, choosing an inexpensive coffin or opting for cremation rather than burial can cut down on the cost significantly. On the other hand, there are certain costs that can’t be avoided, and even a pared-down funeral will cost hundreds of pounds, or even more than a thousand pounds. Given this fact it’s definitely useful to plan for the cost in advance, so that your family don’t find themselves in financial hardship.

If you want to think a little more about your funeral preferences. Please take a look at our MyFuneral service at It is completely free. Your completely funeral wishes document can then be stored with the final Will created through our online Will writing service.

Tim Hewson