The Competition and Markets Authority have found that funeral costs have increased by two-thirds in the last decade – this was approximately three times the rate of inflation.
An initial report by the Competition and Markets Authority identified that the average cost of a funeral was between £3,000 and £5,000. This could be up to 40% of annual outgoings for those on the lowest income.
As a result of the above findings, the funeral industry is facing a potential investigation. The Competition and Markets Authority were concerned that bereaved individuals were vulnerable to exploitation and were unlikely to shop around.
We are regularly contacted by individuals who have recently lost a loved one, and are seeking advice about what to do next. Planning the funeral is often one of the first considerations. So what steps can be taken to meet the costs of the funeral?
In the first instance, enquiries should be made to confirm if the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan. If so, the plan provider should be contacted.
If there is no pre-paid plan, funeral expenses are generally paid from the deceased’s estate. In Scotland, reasonable funeral expenses are ranked above other ordinary debts of the estate.
If there are sufficient funds, some banks will release funds held in the deceased’s account to pay for the funeral. This is something that should be discussed with the bank that holds the funds.
If an individual requires to pay for the funeral from their own funds, this cost can be claimed from the estate, provided that the expenses were reasonable. Generally, an Executor would require to apply to the Court for Confirmation and then ingather estate funds before any payment could be reimbursed. Depending upon the circumstances of the estate, this could be a lengthy process.
An individual may be able to obtain financial assistance with funeral costs if they are in receipt of qualifying benefits, and it was reasonable for them to accept the responsibility for the funeral expenses. A Funeral Payment can be made from the Social Fund. The Funeral Payment requires to be paid back from the deceased’s estate.
If you wish to receive advice regarding paying for funeral costs, you can get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors on 0800 089 1331 who will be able to provide you with clear, detailed advice.
Blog by Amy Wardrop, Solicitor