The average cost of a basic funeral is currently £4,184 according to the SunLife Cost of Dying report (12.6% of the average salary).
This amount breaks down into two categories:
- Funeral director fees
- Third-party fees (for cremation or burial)
A basic funeral becomes a proper send-off when you start to add optional extras, such as flowers, order sheets and limousines (the elements that make it more of a personal occasion).
In 2020, people spent on average £2,532 on optional extras when arranging their loved one’s funeral.
£4,184 + £2,532 = £6,716 Total average cost of a funeral
As mentioned, the actual cost of a funeral will depend on various factors (some within our control and some out of our control). These include:
- The location of the funeral
Funeral fees and charges vary across the UK, with some regions having higher costs than others
- The type of funeral
The average cost of a cremation funeral is currently £3,885 and the average cost of a burial funeral is currently £5,033
- The level of service and personalisation
Non-standard additional items and services. The more you choose to include, the higher the cost of the funeral
This table shows a breakdown of basic funeral costs for cremation, burial, direct cremation and direct burial:
Let’s look at the three main funeral costs in more detail…
1. Funeral director fees
Funeral directors provide a vital role in supporting bereaved family members and ensuring that the funeral is arranged according to their wishes.
They liaise with the necessary third-parties and make sure the funeral runs smoothly on the day.
Funeral directors across the UK tend to offer all-inclusive funeral packages with fixed pricing. However, they can also tailor their services to suit specific needs and budgets.
Standard funeral director services, for either cremation or burial, may include:
- Collection of the deceased and caring for them at the funeral home
- Preparation of the deceased for the funeral
- Completion of the legal paperwork
- Chapel of rest for family viewing
- Liaising with third parties e.g. crematorium or cemetery
- Providing a coffin and hearse
- Pallbearers for carrying the coffin
- Advice on additional extras for the funeral
According to the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2020, funeral director fees were the highest of all funeral costs - at £2,687 on average.
2. Third-party fees
Third-party fees are for additional services that aren’t provided by a funeral director but are necessary for a traditional funeral.
Typical third-party fees include:
- Minister or celebrant fees - for leading the ceremony
- Cremation or burial fees - for the crematorium to carry out the cremation or the cemetery to carry out the burial
- Doctor’s fees - for cremation certificates (applicable to cremation funeral only)
They may also include fees for a church or cemetery chapel service.
In 2019, third-party fees for a cremation funeral cost around £1,200 and third-party fees for a burial funeral cost around £2,300 (on average).
Some places in the UK have considerably higher cremation fees and burial fees, such as London and the South East/East of England.
3. Optional extras
Optional extras are for all the other elements of a funeral that make it special and personal.
They may be included as part of the service, such as a bespoke floral arrangement, or they may be separate costs for arranging the wake, such as catering.
Whilst personalisation is an important aspect of organising someone’s last goodbye, it can significantly increase the overall cost.
Optional extras include but are not limited to:
- Death notice
- Funeral notice
- Additional limo hire
- Order/service sheets
- Catering for wake
- Venue hire
- Viewing of the body
- Live music
- Recorded music
- Live streaming of service
As mentioned, people who’d arranged a funeral in 2020 spent on average £2,532 on optional extras.
Additional funeral related costs
When arranging a loved one’s funeral, you may also be responsible for dealing with their estate.
If you choose to hire a professional such as an accountant or solicitor to manage probate and administer the estate on your behalf, then you’d need to pay their service fees.
According to the Cost of Dying report, people spent on average £2,547 on professional fees in 2020.
£4,184 + £2,532 + £2,547 = £9,263 Total cost of dying (on average)
There are some cases in which you won’t need to hire a professional. For example, a family member or friend could take on the responsibility, especially if the estate is small and uncomplicated.