What happens if I can't afford a funeral?

If you can’t afford to pay for a funeral, you may be able to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment from the government. Other options include using the bank account of the person who died and arranging a Public Health Funeral.

The cost of a funeral in the UK has doubled in the last 10 years – and 1 in 8 families now goes into debt trying to pay for one. With a basic funeral now costing an average of £4,800, many families are being forced to look at alternative ways to cover the costs.

Here, we’ll look at the different options available to you if you can’t afford to pay for your loved one’s funeral.

Pay with the bank account of the person who died

In some cases, you can pay for the funeral using the bank account of the person who died. If their account has been frozen, you may need the help of the executor or administrator of the estate to access the money. However, this isn’t always the case.

Before trying to access their account, you’ll need to get a copy of the death certificate and an invoice for the funeral costs with your name on it. You’ll probably also need to provide the bank or building society with proof of your identity. They’ll then be able to pay the money directly to your funeral provider.

Farewill, for example, will issue an invoice with the costs broken down for the bank – this makes it easy to get approval as soon as possible.

Note: You could get into legal trouble if you don’t speak to the bank or building society first. Even if you know the PIN or online banking information of the person who died, you still need to get written approval before taking any money from the account.

Claim funeral costs from the estate

If you’re able to cover the funeral costs temporarily – for example, through a loan or credit card payment – you may be able to recover the costs from the estate of the person who died.

Speak to the executor or administrator to find out the value of the estate, then calculate how much will be left after any secured debts (such as a mortgage) have been repaid. Knowing how much is left may affect the type of funeral you choose, so it’s worth finding out this information before making a decision.

Who pays for a funeral if the deceased has no money?

If there isn’t enough money in the estate to pay for the funeral, and you don’t have enough money to pay for it yourself, you’ll need to start looking at other options to help with funeral costs. The government has various schemes available for children’s funerals and families receiving benefits, but you could also try raising money through a fundraising page.

Here, we’ll cover the different options available to help pay for your loved one’s funeral.

Children's Funeral Fund

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland and are arranging the funeral of someone under 18, you won’t need to pay any fees for a standard burial or cremation. This also includes simple ceremonies for stillborn and foetal remains.

This fund doesn’t cover the cost of things like a funeral director, flowers and a memorial service, so these will still need to be covered separately.

In England, the Children’s Funeral Fund also provides a £300 contribution towards the price of a coffin, casket or shroud. This can be claimed by you if you’re arranging a simple service, or a funeral director if you choose to use one.

Funeral Expenses Payment

The Funeral Expenses Payment is a government scheme designed to help with funeral costs for people on benefits. This can be used to cover costs like:

  • Cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate

  • Burial fees for a particular plot

  • Travel to arrange or go to the funeral

  • The cost of moving the body within the UK, if it’s being moved more than 50 miles

  • Death certificates or other documents

You can also get up to £700 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin.

Farewill’s direct cremation service is one of the few funeral options that are completely covered by the Funeral Expenses Payment. Call us today on 020 3695 2090 to find out more.

Who is eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment?

If you get one of the following benefits, you should be eligible to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment:

  • Income Support

  • Housing Benefit

  • The disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit

  • Pension Credit

  • Universal Credit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

How to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment before the funeral with Farewill

If you choose to arrange a cremation with Farewill and qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment, we can take payment directly from the government.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download a claim form for a Funeral Expenses Payment and state that you want the payment to be sent directly to Farewill.

  2. Include a copy of our invoice with your claim – we can supply this for you after our initial phone call.

  3. Attach some documents about your loved one’s assets to show that there aren’t enough funds in the estate to cover our cremation fee.

  4. Include details of your relationship with the person who died, along with notes about other family members. This allows the government to work out who is the right person to make the claim.

Any questions? Give our cremation specialists a call on 020 3695 2090.

How to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment after the funeral

You can make a claim before the funeral if you have an invoice or signed contract from your funeral provider. It’s important that this is an official quote rather than an estimate.

If the funeral took place within the last six months, you can still claim some of the costs back through a Funeral Expenses Payment.

Here are the key steps you need to follow to get help with funeral expenses:

  1. Download a claim form for a Funeral Expenses Payment.

  2. Make sure you have a copy of the invoice, contract or funeral bill to attach to your claim.

  3. Include your bank details with your claim so that the Funeral Expenses Payment can be sent to you.

  4. Attach some general information about your loved one’s estate to prove that there aren’t enough funds to cover the funeral costs. Include documents where possible to strengthen your claim.

  5. Provide details of your relationship to the person who died, along with details of other family members. This is to help the government work out who is the appropriate person to claim.

You can find out more about how to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment.

We can help you arrange a funeral if you're on a budget

Whatever your preference, our team is here to help you arrange the funeral that's right for you. Our direct cremations start at £895.

Bereavement Support Payment

Bereavement Support Payment was brought in by the government to replace the DWP Bereavement Service. This may allow you to claim financial support that can then be used to cover the cost of a funeral.

If you have children or you're pregnant, you could receive a lump sum of £3,500 followed by monthly installments of £350 for up to 18 months.

If you don’t have children, you could receive a lump sum of £2,500 followed by monthly installments of £100 for up to 18 months.

Who is eligible for a Bereavement Support Payment?

You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months.

You could be eligible if they paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks. You may also be eligible for a bereavement support grant if they died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work.

In order to claim Bereavement Support Payment, you need to have been under the State Pension age when they died. You also need to be living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits.

Note: You cannot claim Bereavement Support Payment if you are in prison.

How to apply for Bereavement Support Payment

If you’re in England, Scotland or Wales, you can apply for Bereavement Support Payment by calling 0800 731 0469. Alternatively, you can download and print a form, fill it out and send it in the post.

You can find out more about applying for Bereavement Support Payment.

Raise money through a GoFundMe page

One of the more modern ways of raising money for a funeral is to create a GoFundMe page.

GoFundMe is used regularly by individuals, groups, or organisations to fundraise for a specific goal.

In just a few minutes, you can set a fundraiser goal, tell your story to explain why you need help and create your own page. This can then be shared with family, friends and people you work with so that they can help towards funeral costs.

You can create your own GoFundMe page today.

What happens if someone dies with no money or family?

If someone dies with no money and no family who can pay for the funeral, the local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral (also known as a pauper’s funeral). This usually takes the form of a short, simple cremation service.

You will be able to attend the funeral, but the local authority will decide the date and time of the service. Extras like flowers, cars and a death notice in the local paper aren’t included.

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