What happens if you cannot afford a funeral?

When a loved one passes away. We desire to give them the most dignified send off that we can. With the costs of funerals always increasing and the average prices currently standing at around £5,000. Many families find themselves entering into debt trying to cover all of the costs.

What happens though if you simply cannot afford the cost of a funeral? Are there any other alternatives?

In an ideal world the deceased would have made a funeral plan. Meaning that they had pre- planned and paid for the majority of their funeral in advance. When this is not the case the next ideal scenario would be that their estate is able to cover the costs.

However, often neither of these options are viable and the loved ones are asked to cover the mounting costs. 

The idea of not being able to afford a funeral for your loved one can be devastating. There are options available to you and help should you need it. Everyone, no matter their financial status, deserves a dignified goodbye. 

Government assistance

If you find yourself in this situation there is help available. The Government has a scheme called the Funeral Expenses Payment and is designed to help towards funeral costs for those people on benefits.

This scheme will help cover the costs towards

  • Cremation fees
  • The cost of the burial plot.
  • Helping to pay for travel to the funeral. 
  • Costs towards the death certificate.
  • The cost of moving the body within the UK, if it is more than 50 miles. 

You may also be able to claim up to £700 for other expenses. Such as the coffin and funeral directors fees. 

Am I eligible for the Funeral Expenses Payment? 

Acceptance for this scheme is not guaranteed, but it is there to try and help people who are in receipt of the following benefits. 

  • Income support
  • Housing benefit
  • Pension credits
  • Universal credit
  • Child Tax credits
  • Income-based jobseekers allowance. 

How do I apply? 

To apply for the Funeral Expenses Payment scheme you can obtain the forms from the Government website. These are very in depth and will ask questions regarding both yours and the deceased finances.

They will also ask questions regarding the funeral plans. Typically if your claim is successful the money will be paid directly to the funeral directors. However, if you have already paid the bill and are successful with your claim then the money will be paid directly to you to reimburse you. 

Once you have completed these forms you are required to send them to the address listed on the forms along with the invoice or signed contract from the funeral directors. 

What is a Public Health Funeral? 

Under the Public Health (control of disease) Act 1984 a statutory duty is placed on all local authorities to arrange a burial or cremation where there are no suitable alternatives available.

If a person passes away and there is either no next of kin or the family is unable or unwilling to pay for the funeral then the local council arranges what is called a Public Health Funeral. 

This is normally a short cremation service that is very simple. There are typically no flowers, transport for the family or obituaries. Although family members are able to attend the funeral, the date and time is set by the local council. All different councils have their own guidelines that they work by. 

What happens after the funeral? 

If the deceased is to be buried. Then normally the local authority will arrange for a short graveside service before their committal to a public grave. This is typically a grave that is shared with other people although some councils will try their best to find graves that have a family connection. 

If the deceased is cremated. You may not be entitled to claim their ashes. It does vary between each individual local council, but many times the ashes are scattered in the crematoriums garden of remembrance. Although you should be advised when this is taking place so that you are able to attend, should you wish.

The idea of not being able to afford a funeral for your loved one can be devastating. There are options available to you and help should you need it. Everyone, no matter their financial status, deserves a dignified goodbye.  

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