• You do not have to wait until you have registered the death before contacting a funeral director, although they are unable to collect the deceased’s body until the death has been registered
  • The earlier a funeral director becomes involved, the sooner they will be able to act on your behalf to find out when the necessary documents allowing the funeral to proceed will be issued
  • If the death has been referred to the Coroner, then the Coroner’s office will advise you on what to do. Your funeral director can liaise with the Coroner for you.
  • If there is to be a hospital post-mortem examination, the date when the funeral can be held may be affected
  • If your relative/friend has made a will this may give information about their preferred funeral arrangements
  • If the deceased is to be cremated and they have a pacemaker, this needs to be removed by the funeral directors. If the deceased had an implantable cardiac device, known as an ICD this will need to be deactivated before it can be removed. The hospital will notify the funeral directors of this.

Funeral costs

Costs for the same services may vary considerably from one funeral director to another.

You may wish to get more that one quote. Disbursements are fees paid to others, e.g. for cremation, a minister, doctors’ certificates, newspaper announcements, flowers, etc. Ask the funeral director for a written quotation detailing all these fees. Funeral payments are normally recoverable from the deceased’s estate.

Paying for a funeral

If you arrange for a funeral, you are responsible for paying for the expenses incurred.

If you are finding it difficult to pay for the funeral that you have to arrange, you may be entitled to receive a Social Fund Funeral Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions providing you or your partner receive one of the following:

  • Universal credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Income support
  • Income-based Job seeker’s allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Disabled Persons tax credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax credit
  • The disability or severe disability element of working tax credit.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help with all legal and practical matters following a death, including costs.

Age Concern provides advice and information to anyone over the age of 60 about funeral arrangements and welfare benefits etc. Tel: 0151 330 5678.

The Department of Work and Pensions has published two booklets that might be of help to you:

  • Help with the costs of a funeral from the Social Fund (SF200)
  • Further information on what to do when someone dies is available at https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death.

A simple funeral

Most people would probably require the funeral director to provide the following services as a minimum:

  • Make all the necessary arrangements
  • Provide appropriate staff
  • Provide a suitable coffin
  • Transfer your relative/friend from the place of death to the funeral director’s premises
  • Care for your relative/friend prior to the funeral
  • Provide a hearse to the nearest cemetery or crematorium
  • Arrange for a burial or cremation as appropriate
  • Embalming, viewing of the deceased, or providing cars for mourners are optional extras
  • For further information and guidance when choosing a funeral director you may wish to contact the National Association of Funeral Directors on 0121 711 1343 or https://nafd.org.uk/
  • You could also get information from the Natural Death Centre on 01962 712 690 or http://naturaldeath.org.uk/.

Choosing a funeral director

Funeral directors will manage funeral arrangements and give advice and support. Check if the funeral director you choose belongs to a trade association.

This requires them to provide full information about their services and prices. These factors may influence your choice:

  • Location of the firm’s premises
  • Range of services provided
  • The way you are treated by the staff
  • Cost
  • Recommendation of those who have used the service
  • Ownership (small family business or large firm).

Wills

If you have any queries about a will or regarding the absence of a Will you can contact:

Probate Registry

Queen Elizabeth II Law Court

Derby Square

Liverpool

L2 1XA

Tel: 0151 236 8264

A useful booklet on how to obtain probate (PA2) is available from the Probate Service.  Search https://www.gov.uk.

Rights and options

The main requirements in England and Wales are as follows:

  • The death is certified by a doctor or coroner
  • The death is registered with a Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths
  • The body is either buried or cremated.

However:

  • You do not have to have a funeral ceremony
  • You do not have to use a religious minister
  • You do not have to use a funeral director
  • A ceremony does not have to take place in a crematorium or place of worship.

There are increasingly more options concerning funeral arrangements than many people realise.

  • Woodland burial and other green options are increasingly available
  • A variety of types and styles of coffin and funeral cars are available
  • The majority of people choose to make their arrangements through a funeral director, but some people see ‘do-it-yourself’ funerals as more personal and less expensive. If this approach appeals, and you have time to research and prepare, enquire at the cemeteries and crematorium department of you local authority for guidance.