Arranging the Funeral
Organising the funeral will often be the family's priority and main focus following the death of a loved one. However, many family's will struggle with the preparations since they will want to follow the wishes of the person who has died but they may not have discussed these prior to them dying. It may well be that the person who has died left guidance or instructions in their Will or a letter accompanying the Will or they may have purchased a prepaid funeral plan and recorded their wishes for their loved ones to carry out.
Most people will want to follow the wishes of the person who has died, however, it is important to remember that it’s okay not follow a loved one’s wishes – perhaps if they are too expensive, or maybe a little too ‘out there’ or laid back.
A funeral director will guide you through the whole process and can make all of the practical arrangements on your behalf. This will include:
Taking care of the person who has died;
Ensuring that all of the necessary documentation is completed to legally allow the burial or cremation to take place;
Advising you and helping source additional items, such as funeral flowers;
And finally, bringing it all together to make sure the funeral takes place with respect and dignity.
Planning a funeral can be stressful. There’s a lot to think about and don't forget you are grieving. It is important that you don’t feel rushed and you should be free to take your time. We've included a number of things you may wish to consider below:
Did the person who died wish to be buried or cremated?
This may be recorded in the Will or you may be aware of this from conversations you had had. This could also be determined by faith or cultural traditions or may be due to cost since cremation tends to be less expensive.
What type of coffin?
Some people will opt for something 'cheap and cheerful', whilst others may want something 'green' and friendlier to the environment. Whatever the preference, there are many different types of to choose from, ranging from solid wood or wicker, to recycled materials and even cardboard. You should be able to find a suitable coffin to fit your budget. You can choose decorations, such as flowers or football colours as well as the coffin fittings.
How should I let people know?
Placing a notice in the local paper is a good way of making the funeral details known to friends and family. The cost will depend on the length of the obituary and you may need to show the death certificate to the paper before they can place the notice. Please remember not to advertise the address of the person who has died as sadly many houses are burgled during funerals.
Should there be a ceremony?
There is no law requiring a ceremony takes place, however, most people will want this to happen so that they can say their final goodbyes. This may be governed by faith or spiritual beliefs. You can decide how formal or informal the ceremony should be, where it will take place and who will be invited.
Flowers or donations?
You can choose for donations to be made to a certain charity in remembrance of the person who has passed away or you can choose whether or not to accept flowers or restrict whether flowers should be from family members only, for example.
Will I need a printed Order of Service?
Many people value these, however, it’s entirely up to you, this will detail how the funeral will be conducted and in what order. You can include a photograph as well as a personal message.
Should there be a wake?
Many people choose to provide a place for people to go to following the funeral, often a buffet is provided.
How do I get to the funeral?
You might want to use limousines provided by a funeral director for the close family to travel together to the funeral, this can relieve anxiety around timekeeping. You can decide where the funeral will start, this could be from the home and everyone follows a procession to the funeral.
Paying for the Funeral
According to the SunLife Cost of Dying report, published in 2020, the average cost of a funeral was £4,417, however, there are significant regional variations in funeral costs.
The person signing the papers at the funeral directors is effectively entering into a contract with that funeral director and as such becomes responsible for payment of the funeral. It is usual that the funeral director will want payment within 30 days following the funeral and some may ask for a deposit upfront. Many people will use credit cards or loans to pay for the funeral. However, usually the funeral is paid for from the estate, i.e. the belongings of the person who has died. Paying funeral expenses takes priority over other payments that need to be made. When someone dies, the bank accounts are usually frozen, however, often the bank will release the funds upon receipt of the funeral account.
Where there is not enough money belonging to the person who has died, the family will need to meet the costs. Many families will struggle and some may even face financial hardship. Most people will not want to have to cut back on the funeral they would want for their loved one, however, sometimes this may be the only way to keep the funeral affordable. All SAIF and NAFD members have pledged to provide simple funerals in these situations and will quote a package price, which is usually cheaper than standard charges.
If there is not enough money belonging to the person who has died to pay the funeral then you may be eligible to help from the government. The government can help with funeral costs in two ways. First, with a Funeral Expenses Payment, which can be given to people on certain benefits to cover basic costs. Second, with a Bereavement Support Payment, which is for people under state pension age whose partner has passed away.