How to pay for a funeral

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1 How to pay for a funeral Information for patients from the Patient Experience Team This leaflet provides advice to people who have just lost a family member or a friend, and who have concerns about how the funeral is to be paid for. Our advice is to take time to explore all the options suggested. At the end of this leaflet is a list of organisations which will be able to give you more advice and assistance. Who pays for the funeral? The person who arranges the funeral is responsible for paying the bill, so it is important to know how the funeral will be paid for. Speak to friends and relatives who may be willing to contribute. Is there a funeral plan? Many elderly people have made a financial provision through a funeral plan. This may have been organised with a funeral director or an insurance company. Look through the decease person s paperwork to see if you can find anything. If you suspect that there may be one in place, but you cannot find the paperwork, then it might be worth ringing the local funeral directors to see if they have any knowledge of a plan having been taken out with them. There may also be something noted in the deceased person s will, but this may not be available to you at this stage. Notes It is worth checking that the plan includes the costs of everything required. A funeral plan is more likely to be in existence if the deceased is an older person. Is there money in the deceased person s bank or building society? Banks are usually willing to consider requests to settle the funeral director s bill from the late customer s account, provided funds are available. You will have to provide the bank with the original funeral bill of invoice. The bank then provides a cheque or other payment payable directly to the funeral director. Some banks will do this even if the bill has already been paid, so long as you can provide proof of payment. Notes The first call on the bereaved person s estate is the payment of funeral costs before any other payments can be made. Banks will release this payment before probate. Some funeral directors will allow payment to be made after the arrangements have been made. Check with your chosen funeral director.

2 Are there organisations that may be able to help me with the funeral costs? War Disablement Pension If the person who died was receiving a war disablement pension, the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency will help with the cost of a simple funeral. See the end of this leaflet for more information. The Social Fund The Government provides assistance towards funeral costs through the Social Fund, but it is unlikely to cover the full cost. You (or the deceased) must be, (or have been) on some kind of benefit and will need to prove that there is no one else related to the deceased who could feasibly be in line to pay the funeral costs. A form (which you can download from their website see Further Information on page 4) must be completed and submitted to the Social Fund. However, you are unlikely to receive the funds until after the funeral as processing the claim can take several weeks. Note You may need to get an interim loan; speak to your bank or the funeral director. Loans Funeral directors can provide loans, but you are advised to shop around to look for the best deal and you may also wish to consult your bank or local credit union. How can I minimise the cost of a funeral? An article in Kent Online in November 2014 said that, The cost of a funeral has risen to an average of nearly 4,000 in the south east, latest research reveals, an 87% increase over the last ten years. The costs can include; the doctors fees for the certificates, the costs of burial or cremation, the fees for the funeral service, and the professional services of the funeral director. You will also need to consider the cost of the coffin, flowers, cars, service sheets, and newspaper notices. However, a funeral does not have to cost as much as 4,000, which is why it is important to shop around. You do not need to use the services of a funeral director, but you should bear in mind that their job is to take care of all the details, ensuring that nothing is forgotten and that the day of the funeral is as stress free as possible. Please see the end of this leaflet for information about an organisation which will provide advice about funeral arrangements without a funeral director. Some people who have reduced costs have: obtained quotations from several funeral directors, some of whom have their own chapel which can reduce costs ensured that the deceased is cremated or buried in the district where they died (it is more expensive out of area) chosen a cremation rather than a burial (although there may be exceptions) opted for a disposal service; the crematorium collects the body, cremates it in a basic coffin, and returns the ashes opted for a garden burial bought a coffin online provided their own transport not had a church service 2

3 booked the crematorium in the early part of the day or at the end of the day (much cheaper than around midday) ensured that items such as pacemakers are removed by the hospital, if the deceased died in a hospital not had flowers not purchased a memorial stone. Can I save money by burying the body in my garden? There are no laws preventing burials in householders gardens, although an Environment Agency authorisation form must be completed because decomposing corpses pose a health risk to the living. The person responsible for the burial must first check with the Land Registry, the Environment Agency, and their local authority and also obtain a Certificate of Authority for Burial, or a coroner, from the Registrar of Births and Deaths. A garden grave must be situated more than ten metres from a ditch, 30 metres from a spring or running or standing water, at least 50 metres from a well or borehole, and be deep enough to stop wildlife digging up the body. It is also necessary to record the whereabouts of the grave and include this in the deeds of the property. Can the body be donated to science? No, not unless the deceased person had made specific arrangements for this prior to death. Details should be held with their will. There is no guarantee that the body will be suitable for this purpose after death, even if the arrangements have already been made. If the body is not accepted, then the family will have to make the funeral arrangements. Medical schools will often arrange to have the body cremated after its examination has taken place, but the family may wish to make their own arrangements. What happens when a person dies without any means to pay for the funeral and with no family or friends who are able to do this on their behalf? If the person has died in the community (not in hospital), then you should contact your local District Council who are responsible for Public Health Act Funerals. If the person dies in a hospital, then East Kent Hospitals will make arrangements for a Contract Funeral. This will be a simple and dignified funeral which will result in a cremation. Burials are only permitted in rare circumstances, for instance if it can be demonstrated the deceased person followed a particular religion. However, even if the deceased had a preference before death for a burial, and there is no religious need for it, a cremation will take place. The arrangements and the location of the funeral will be entirely the remit of the Trust. Before the Trust undertakes a Contract Funeral, it will need to be supplied with evidence that there are no funds to cover the costs. The Trust reserves the right to seek reimbursement from the deceased person s estate, using the services of a finding agency if necessary. The deceased person s effects may have to be sold to pay for the funeral costs in retrospect. In practice the Trust deals with very few cases where there is no next of kin and where this is the case, then the matter is subsequently referred to the Treasury Solicitor. 3

4 Further information Citizens Advice (for a wide range of advice relating to what to do after a death) Web site: The Bereavement Service (when someone who was receiving Social Security Benefits dies) the Social Fund Web site: benefits-and-financial-support/bereavement-1/funeral-payments.htm Telephone: Funeral Directors - for advice with selecting a suitable funeral director (also known as an undertaker) contact either: The National Association of Funeral Directors Web site: Telephone: The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors Web Site: Telephone: The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (for someone who was receiving a war disablement pension) Web site: Telephone: The Natural Death Centre (inexpensive funerals that do not need the services of a funeral director) Web site: death.org.uk Telephone: The Environment Agency (Garden Burials) Web site: The Human Tissue Authority (donating your body to science) Web site: For their information pack go to Pack_ pdf.pdf East Kent Hospitals Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) (for specific advice and information relating to a death in hospital) Telephone: or

5 Any complaints, comments, concerns, or compliments If you have other concerns please talk to your doctor or nurse. Alternatively please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on or , or Further patient information leaflets In addition to this leaflet, East Kent Hospitals has a wide range of other patient information leaflets covering conditions, services, and clinical procedures carried out by the Trust. For a full listing please go to or contact a member of staff. After reading this information, do you have any further questions or comments? If so, please list below and bring to the attention of your nurse or consultant. Would you like the information in this leaflet in another format or language? We value equality of access to our information and services and are therefore happy to provide the information in this leaflet in Braille, large print, or audio - upon request. If you would like a copy of this document in your language, please contact the ward or department responsible for your care. Pacjenci chcący uzyskać kopię tego dokumentu w swoim języku ojczystym powinni skontaktować się z oddziałem lub działem odpowiedzialnym za opiekę nad nimi. Ak by ste chceli kópiu tohto dokumentu vo vašom jazyku, prosím skontaktujte nemocničné pracovisko, alebo oddelenie zodpovedné za starostlivosť o vás. Pokud byste měli zájem o kopii tohoto dokumentu ve svém jazyce, kontaktujte prosím oddělení odpovídající za Vaši péči. Чтобы получить копию этого документа на вашем родном языке, пожалуйста обратитесь в отделение, ответственное за ваше лечение. We have allocated parking spaces for disabled people, automatic doors, induction loops, and can provide interpretation. For assistance, please contact a member of staff. This leaflet has been produced with and for patients Information produced by the Patient Experience Team Date: February 2015 Review date: February 2017 Web 280

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