Cost of dying rises above £9,000

The cost of dying has risen above £9000 in 2018 according to the SunLife (2018), Cost of Dying Report, which has been recording the costs of dying since 2007. Since they started the cost of dying has increased by 57% and in the last year alone, it has increased 3.4% from £8,905 in 2017 to £9,204 in 2018. The report is produced through an online survey and telephone interviews with funeral directors across the UK and combines funeral costs, send-off costs and the cost of professional fees to work out the average total cost.

The average cost of a basic funeral

The report attributes a lot of the overall rise in the cost of dying to funeral costs. The average cost of a funeral in 2018 was £4,271 when it was £4,078 in 2017, that’s a rise of 4.7%. The average funeral cost is worked out on the combined average cost of burials and cremations.

The average cost of a Burial came out at £4,798 which is a 5.2% rise in 2017 which was £4,561. The raise in costs were attributed to:

  • Lack of space for new graves
  • Reduced local authority funding
  • Increased investment in cemetery infrastructure
  • Reduced number of burials (due to reduced death and more people choosing cremations)

The average cost of a cremation came out at £3,744, a 4.1% increase on 2017 which was £3,596. The raise in costs were attributed to;

  • Cuts to local authority budgets by central government
  • Rise in fuel prices
  • Mercury emissions abatement target

The survey was carried out across 10 regions with London, unsurprising, being the most expensive. Funeral costs in London were on average £5,880, which is actually a 1.2% drop from last year. The region that had the lowest average funeral costs was Northern Ireland where funerals cost £3,231.

The average cost of a send-off

As well as the Funeral most people will chose to hold some sort of send-off, which the report includes under its total average cost of dying. The costs attributed to a send-off include:

  • Memorial
  • Catering
  • Limo hire
  • Venue hire
  • Flowers
  • Order sheets/service card
  • Funeral notice
  • Death notice

Once all of these costs have been added up the average cost of a send-off is £2,061, which is a big increase of 6.9% compared to 2017 where it was £1,928.

The average cost of professional fees

The total cost of dying also includes professional fees associated with death such as hiring a professional to administer the deceased’s estate, which makes up 30-33% of the total average cost of dying. Professional fees were on average £2,872 and is the only cost associated with dying that has fallen since 2017, although only slightly by 0.9%.

Paying the funeral costs

With the funeral costs rising year after year, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the families of the deceased to cover the costs. The deceased’s estate is responsible for covering the funeral costs but if the deceased has little to no cash assets it falls to the families to front the costs. However, more people are making provision for these increasing costs, with 62% of people making specific financial provisions to pay for their funeral before they passed away. This is 4% more than in 2017 where only 58% had made provisions.

50% had made provisions for the funeral costs using saving and investments, 30% had a prepaid funeral plan, 17% had a life insurance plan and 16% had a over 50s life insurance plan. Even with these provisions in place only 59% were enough to cover the entire cost leaving the family of the deceased having to make up the difference which worked out on average to be £2,559.

Sunlife predicts that the cost of dying will continue to rise, A spokesman for Sun Life Direct, said: “Many people are sleepwalking into a financial nightmare, leaving end-of-life plans to their families, the state or no one at all.” This highlights the importance of making the proper preparations in advance to prevent additional stress and financial strain on your loved ones when you pass.

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