How much does a funeral cost?

We've broken down the things you might need to pay for.

Over 50s Life Insurance
  • Key findings from Funeral Index Report
  • How can I provide for my funeral costs?
  • What are the different costs for a funeral?
  • How can I keep funeral costs down?
  • Are some funerals cheaper than others?
  • How else can I help my family?

How much does a funeral cost?

Research published by Royal London* has demonstrated the shifting shape of the funeral business. With the cost of cremations, the availability of land for burial and the cost of funeral directors all changing, we’ve put together a guide to help you assess the viability of the different options for sending-off a loved one, or planning a funeral for yourself in the future.

Key findings

The key findings from the report* are:

  • The average cost of funerals has taken a very slight dip of 0.7% (or £27)
  • This is partly due to a fall in the average cost of cremation funerals
  • However, there has also been an increase in the cost of an average burial funeral
  • Funeral director fees have also fallen since 2017
  • The cost of a funeral director now makes up a smaller proportion of overall costs


Some of the most troubling news from Royal London’s report is that consumers are taking on more debt to cover the costs of funerals – an average of £1,744.

We all want funerals to reflect the characters we’ve recently lost and involve as many of the right people as possible. But striking a balance between cost and the scale of a funeral can be challenging.

The average cost of a funeral in 2018 is £3,757 – a large amount of money for many people. Of course, this figure is only an average and doesn’t reflect the variance in cost by location, or the added extras that can further increase spending.

Here are a few questions that may help you to plan for the future.

How can I provide for my funeral costs?

The Royal London report draws attention to the fact that record numbers of Brits are taking on debt to pay for funerals. This can be difficult to manage, so there are ways to try and avoid having to do so.

If you are saving for your own funeral, you may be able to put a portion of your earnings aside or start a savings account. You could also take out an Over 50s life insurance policy, which can offer a payout to help cover funeral costs if you maintain your monthly premiums.

If you want to avoid your family having to dip into their own pockets to pay for your funeral, taking steps to make sure they have some help – or don’t have to at all – can bring peace of mind for everyone.

What are the different funeral costs?

The costs of a funeral are more diverse than you might think. Indeed, it’s unlikely to be something we think about until we need to.

The most common costs are:

  • Type of funeral – such as cremation or burial
  • Choosing a coffin or a casket
  • Funeral director fees and the services of a funeral home
  • If you choose a burial, the burial plot
  • Cremation fees if this is what you choose
  • Transport to the funeral, such as a hearse or limousine
  • The writing and/or delivery of a paid eulogy
  • If you choose, venue hire for a wake
  • Catering or food and drink costs for a wake or memorial service
  • Sending of invites and other printing materials (such as orders of service)
  • Flowers for the service
  • Doctor’s fees for certification


Funeral homes are normally able to arrange a number of these costs under one service, but not all. For instance, coffins or caskets and anything to do with a wake are likely to be separate.

How can I keep funeral costs down?

Many of the costs above are what is known as ‘discretionary’. This means they are items that can be chosen as parts of a funeral but which can be excluded too. Discretionary costs could include flowers, transport in a hearse and paid eulogies. To keep costs down, you could choose to leave certain items out or simply keep the budget for discretionary items to a minimum.

For instance, the amount one pays for a coffin or casket could also be discretionary. While the item itself may be necessary, there’s a lot of choice about what you could pay for it.

The cheapest option for a funeral is an idea rapidly gaining popularity. This is called ‘direct cremation’ (or sometimes ‘pure funeral’) and is where the deceased is cremated soon after passing without any ceremony or family present.

The remains can then be sent to the family, who can choose how to celebrate their loved one. They might choose a formal ceremony that closely resembles a funeral, but they could choose anything they like.

Since the only costs associated with such a funeral are the crematorium costs, these funerals can be significantly cheaper than traditional send-offs.

There are also ‘direct burials’, which follow the same principle but involve interment instead of cremation. These may be slightly more expensive as they can require the purchase of a burial plot.

Remember that you are in control of your funeral budget. Funeral directors and homes are experienced in matching services to budgets, and many providers have stripped-down, budget-friendly options which don’t compromise on dignity.

Are some funerals cheaper than others?

Some types of funeral can be cheaper than others. We’ve seen that burial funerals are generally more expensive than cremations, but other factors can come into play.

The Royal London report highlights that the cost of burial is highly variable depending on location, with Greater London containing 10 of the country’s 11 most expensive locations. Moreover, the cost of a burial funeral has risen year-on-year over the last 5 years, with the burial itself comprising a significant proportion of the overall amount.

Burial costs are being driven up by a lack of available space, which is in turn driving up the cost of cremation. This might seem paradoxical, but when a cemetery becomes full or nearly full, it stops being profitable for the funeral company that looks after it.

This loss of earnings may be reflected in a rise in cremation fees if there is a crematorium on site.

The cost of cremation has risen by 4.9%, taking the average figure to £792 (which doesn’t include director fees or other costs). However, this cost has been more than offset by a dip in funeral director fees, meaning that the average cost of a cremation funeral has gone down by £64 overall.

Can I help my family in other ways?

You can help your family budget by leaving clear provisions for your desired funeral arrangement. It might be a very difficult conversation to have however it can make sure that there’s clarity around what is spent and what isn’t. This might give your family peace of mind that a plan is in place to provide for your funeral.

*Source: Royal London Funeral Index Report 2018

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