Would you want your loved ones to get into debt for your funeral?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

UK adults are struggling to pay for funerals, with thousands of them incurring debts as a result. It's not something most of us want to think about, but the results of a recent study shows why we should.

Funeral Poverty Blog - familyEarlier this year, we were shocked by reports that there had been an increase in 'pauper burials', where a local authority organises a funeral because family members are not able or prepared to pay for a funeral. You can read our previous blog post here.

Now, some figures from Royal London have raised this issue again. They show that more than 100,000 bereaved adults are in debt after paying for a funeral. This amounts to a total debt of £142 million, with an average of £1,305 each.

Perhaps that's not surprising when you consider that the average cost of a UK funeral is £3,551 but can reach nearly £7,000 depending on where you live. It's a significant cost.

Nearly half of those surveyed who had organised a funeral in the last five years said it cost more than expected, with 42% admitting they had problems meeting the cost of the funeral.

35% of those surveyed used their own savings to pay for the funeral and 28% borrowed money from family or friends. One in five people went into debt as a result of using a credit card or loan to provide the funds.

22% of those surveyed said that no financial provision was left for the funeral and only 11% chose a cheaper funeral - highlighting the obligation many of us feel to provide a good funeral for those we care about. 

As Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a sociologist at Bath University and author of the Cost of Dying report, says:  "We don't have a culture of talking about death which means we often don't plan properly, and we need to address that."  After all, would you want your loved ones to get into debt so they can pay for your funeral?


Royal London - National Funeral Cost Index

BBC Cost of dying report

This blog is intended to provide information, not financial advice, to help you make an informed decision about savings and investments. We do not offer financial advice.  You should contact a financial adviser, who may charge a fee, if you want financial advice.