Not everyone can afford funeral expenses, especially when it comes by surprise, whether by an unexpected death or higher-than-anticipated costs. This often leaves the bereaved with no choice but to search for alternative payment options. This guide considers a few ways to cover funeral costs if there is no money.
What Happens if You Can’t Afford a Funeral UK
1. Funeral Expenses Payment
A Funeral Expenses Payment can help cover funeral costs, like cremation fees and doctor’s certificates, burial plot fees, travel costs, death certificates, and the cost of moving the body. It does not typically cover entire funeral costs, and the amounts to be received depend on the peculiar circumstances, and it is paid directly to the funeral director.
The only persons eligible for the Funeral Expenses Payment funding option are the partner of a deceased, the parent(s) of a stillborn child born after 24 weeks, or the guardian of a dead child under 16 at the time of passing. A close relative can only claim this fund if the deceased did not have a partner at the time of their passing, or the deceased partner or parent of the deceased child is unable to claim because they are abroad or in prison.
Other eligibility requirements are that the applicant must be getting tax credits or other state benefits and arranging the funeral in the UK, Switzerland, or the European Economic Area (EEA).
2. Bereavement Support Payment
A deceased person’s civil partner or surviving spouse can claim Bereaved Support Payment benefits to ease some of the funeral costs. The surviving partner can make this claim whether or not they earn an income, provided the death occurred on or after the 6th of April 2017.
Another requirement is that the surviving partner must have been under State Pension age and living in the UK at the time of the death and that the deceased made National Insurance Contributions for at least twenty-five (25) weeks in a tax year since 1975. The bereaved can get a lump sum of £2,500 and monthly payments of £100 to last 18 months.
If the bereaved is responsible for a child below 20, they can get a £3,500 payout and £350 monthly payments for 18 months. The Bereaved Support Payment is not taxable, and eligible applicants are advised to apply within three months of the deceased’s passing to get full amounts.
Late claims attract fewer monthly payments.
3. Insurance or Funeral Plan
Sometimes, a deceased person may have prepared for their funeral with burial insurance or a prepaid funeral plan. So, it may be best to check through the deceased’s private documents or emails for records of an insurance policy or funeral plan.
Even if there are no in-depth details, a funeral plan provider’s name is enough information to start with. Calling the provider will typically reveal if they have any such information on their records.
If the deceased had life insurance or other insurance plans, find out who the beneficiary is. This money can go towards funeral expenses, and the payouts are often quick.
4. Public Health Funerals
When a person dies and their estate cannot bear the funeral costs, the local council will take over the responsibility and pay for a basic funeral. This is a statutory duty imposed by the Public Health Act of 1984 under its control of disease provision.
This type of funeral is often a cremation instead of a traditional burial, and the local council determines where and when it happens. The council may also decide to hold on to the ashes after the funeral. So, public health funerals are often taken as a last resort.
5. Social Fund Funerals
Suppose a deceased person’s surviving relatives are low-income earners or cannot pay the full funeral costs. They can take advantage of the Social Fund Funeral Payment scheme to subsidise these costs.
Eligibility depends on the applicant’s relationship with the deceased, their financial situation, and the size of the deceased’s estate. The scheme may award up to £700 to cover funeral costs, but the money may come with a clause requiring the recipient to repay some or all of it from the deceased’s estate if there are sufficient funds after executing the will.
Crowdfunding is another way to raise money for a funeral. While it may be tough asking for help, friends and family may be willing to help in difficult situations like these.
Small amounts contributed here, and there can go a long way to either cover the total funeral cost or make the bill bearable for the people organising the burial. These days, there are various online tools like GoFundMe, making crowdfunding easier than ever.
Some charities offer financial help to bereaved family members to cover the funeral costs of their deceased loved ones. The types of charities that bereaved family members can apply to depend on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s passing, as these charitable grants are allocated on a case-by-case basis.
For example, some charities provide funeral expenses support to parents who lost a child to terminal illnesses, parents who lost a child under 16 years, and so on. However, finding charities willing to cover funeral costs without a referral may be difficult.
So, it is advisable to speak to funeral directors for directions or referrals. Alternatively, the bereaved can search online for charities without strict requirements.
8. Religious Organizations
Was the deceased an active member of a religious organisation like a church, mosque, or synagogue? These organisations often offer support towards funeral expenses by providing a free burial plot, financial assistance to cover a member’s funeral, allowing the family to hold the funeral rites in their establishment, providing food for the ceremony, and more.
Even if the deceased was not religious, if their loved ones belong to a religious organisation, this option is still worth exploring. Death is a sensitive matter, and people are often always willing to help, whether for someone they know or not. Plus, if the family cannot afford the funeral costs, any available option is a great opportunity.
Dealing with financial woes while mourning a loved one is painful and a challenging position to be in, but the burden can be a bit lighter with financial assistance. If you can’t afford a burial, brainstorm with the right options above. If one doesn’t work, try another. You can also book a consultation for more advice!