They say grief is the price we pay for loving someone. The harsh reality is that when someone dies there are a number of financial implications that have to be dealt with by those who are left behind. In this post we simplify and summarise what some of these are.
When someone dies you have 5 days in England and Wales (8 in Scotland) in which to register the death. This includes weekends and bank holidays.
A death certificate costs £11 and it is advisable to buy extra copies as you may need to provide a copy of the certificate to solicitors, banks, pension companies and so on. It is advised that you obtain between 5 – 10 copies of the death certificate, so you should expect to pay £55 – £111 in total.
When you register a death, you’ll also get a ‘certificate for a burial’ to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation. This latter needs to be completed and given to the crematorium.
You must do one of these before the funeral can take place.
The cost of a funeral depends on what you want it to include, however on average you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of £9,000 (sourced from Sun Life Funeral costs) . This includes the funeral, plus professional fees and send-off costs and is on average slightly higher if you opt for burial and slightly lower if you opt for cremation.
Direct Cremation is another option and is an alternative to a traditional funeral. The body of the loved one is cremated without a ceremony at the crematorium, without the present of mourners. Obviously you can hold a gathering of remembrance separately.
How funeral costs are met
There are a number of ways that funeral costs may be met.
- Funeral pre-payment plan
- Life Insurance
- From the Estate of the deceased
There are different types of Life Insurance, with the most popular one in the UK being ‘Term Life Insurance’. This type of insurance usually provides a lump sum payment upon notification of a person’s death and some of that money can be used to pay for funerals.
It is worth noting however in the UK only 30% of people have any form of life insurance at all.
A funeral pre-payment plan does what it says on the tin. It’s a plan whereby the deceased has been making payments to cover the costs of a funeral. Only 6% of people in the UK have a funeral pre-payment plan in place however.
The most likely place therefore that money will come from to meet the cost of a funeral is from the deceased estate. Whilst bank accounts and other assets tend to be frozen upon notification of death, funds to pay for the funeral can be released with the right paperwork in place.
What if there’s no money to speak of associated with the estate or not enough to cover the funeral costs? At this juncture the burden of payment tends to fall to family, relatives or friends.
Financial support available for funeral costs
There are a number of financial support options also available to help.
A Funeral Expenses Payment or Funeral Payment is available for people who receive certain benefits including Universal Credit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, Housing Benefit, and Child Tax Credit for example. You need to be the partner or parent or be able to prove you are their closest person and eligibility is also assessed on the basis of the financial status other relations to the deceased. Heaps more information on eligibility is available here.
The Funeral Payment helps to pay for burial or cremation fees, funeral related travel, cost of moving the body in the UK if over 50 miles, the death certificates and associated documents as well as up to £1,000 towards any other funeral expenses, such as the funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin.
If you receive money from the estate of the deceased you will have to pay the money back and if a funeral pre-payment plan was in place there’s a limit of £120 you can claim from the government.
Other Government Financial Support
Other Government Financial Support is available for example the Bereavement Support Payment if the person who has died is your married or registered civil partner. Although this is not means tested there are some eligibility criteria. The support comprises a lump sum and a monthly payment for up to 18 months. For more details on this check out the government website.
Outstanding Bills and Debts
Dealing with the loss of someone is hard and grief makes us vulnerable. Whatever happens, whatever phonecalls or letters or notifications you may receive about outstanding debts do not act without getting advice.
There are a number of brilliant places you can go to get help and advice on outstanding bills and debt in the event of a loved one dying. The National Debtline and Citizens Advice Bureau both offer free and independent advice.
Where debts are only in the name of the deceased and they have no assets, the debts do not get passed on to anyone else when they die.
If the debts are in joint names or you have acted as a guarantor then you will be liable for those debts. If they are unaffordable do get in touch with the National Debtline and/or Citizen’s Advice Bureau. They will be able to offer you independent advice on the matter.
If there are assets in the estate (e.g. all the money, shares, bonds, property etc., left behind by the deceased) the estate must pay the outstanding debts, whether they are in sole or joint names.
Getting Emotional Support
The whole situation can feel muddy, confusing and overwhelming when someone dies. It is hugely important that you get support when you are grieving. Organisations such as CRUSE Bereavement Support can be enormously helpful. They offer free and confidential support, delivered by trained bereavement volunteers. They are there to listen and can signpost you to other organisations to help with the more practical matters too. Another brilliant charity and one that I closely support is Grief Encounter, who provide support for children who have been bereaved.
Friends and family can be brilliant, sometimes you need someone you can talk to who isn’t involved in any way for a guilt free conversation or to get a foothold on some of the activities you need to do both in the immediate aftermath of someone dying and over the coming year(s). You never need to go through any of this alone. There is help out there for you.
Source: Mrs MummyPenny.