What is a Funeral Expenses Payment?
These days, paying for a funeral can end up becoming an extremely costly affair. On average, a funeral arranged in the UK using a funeral director costs a staggering £3,675. In London, this amount can sometimes be double. This a huge amount for anyone, but especially if you are struggling with money, it can seem insurmountable. However, did you know that you may qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment that could help you with costs? We tell you all the information that you need about this form of help.
What is a Funeral Expenses Payment?
Otherwise known as a Funeral Payment, it is a source of funding that you may be entitled to in the event of needing to help pay for a funeral, but are on a low income. If you qualify, you do not need to repay the funeral payment. However, it may be taken from the estate of the deceased if it is possible the money can be recovered. It is not taxable and applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are also no age rules determining who can get a funeral payment. A Funeral Payment can help with any of the following:
- The cost of a return journey to and from the funeral
- Burial or cremation fees
- Up to £700 for other costs such as the coffin, flowers or the car for the service
- Part of the cost of transporting the coffin and bearers to the service if it further away than 50 miles
- The price of documents needed to release property or savings of the person who has passed away.
- The cost of any documents needed to release money that is from the account of the person who has died.
- If in the UK and over 50 miles, some of the cost to transport the body to the place of rest.
However, there are other circumstances that are taken into account to determine if you can receive a Funeral Expenses Payment.
It is important to add that a Funeral Expenses Payment will not cover the entirety of the funeral bill, depending on whereabouts in the country you live. This means you may end up footing up to a third of the bill.
Can I get a Funeral Expenses Payment?
If you receive one of the following benefits, or your partner does, you may qualify the payment:
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit (if higher than £545 annually)
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
However, it is important to note that receiving a Funeral Payment is not automatic if you are the recipient of one of these benefits. The benefits office has to verify that there is no one else should be paying for the funeral instead. If they believe that it is up to someone else to take responsibility for the costs and not you, you will be refused a Funeral Expenses Payment.
Who should pay for the funeral?
The person who has already passed away may have taken care of funeral costs already, or they have left money in their will to cover this. This is usually through a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance. This means that you should use the designated funeral director as stated in the funeral plan, or from an approved list. In the latter case, this means the executor of the will pay for the funeral through the estate. Otherwise, a relative or friend tends to pay for the service.
It is important to note that if the deceased did choose a pre-paid funeral plan, that you should check the small print to see what is covered in the plan, before going ahead and arranging the service. Certain plans do not cover all funeral expenses, so it is best to be prepared to avoid any nasty surprises at a later date.
If you believe your loved one took out a plan, check with the family solicitor, their bank, or to see if the funeral plan was stored with their will.
If you can’t afford funeral costs
Apart from the Funeral Expenses Payment which you may be entitled to if you are getting certain benefits, there are other options that exist too. A Public Health Funeral may be arranged by the local council or hospital if :
- there is a lack of money in the deceased’s estate.
- No relatives or friends are available to organise the funeral service. In this case, all final arrangements are made by the local council, and it is usually a cremation service.
How do I make a claim for Funeral Expenses Payment?
In order to make a claim for a Funeral Payment, you need to apply within three months of the date of the funeral. You can visit GOV.UK for further details on how to apply, and more information on eligibility too.
You must apply within three months of the date of the funeral, even if you are waiting for the final decision of a benefit you are applying for. Similarly, with Universal Credit, you won’t get a decision about a Funeral Expenses Payment until the next payment you receive.
It is not possible to apply for Funeral Expenses Payment if you haven’t got an invoice from the funeral director. An estimate does not mean you will be able to make a Funeral Payment claim. So make sure you have all the relevant documentation ready prior to applying.
In addition, if you live in Northern Ireland and are considering making a claim, remember that a slightly different method is involved. Apply through the NIDirect website in order to apply for the benefit.
To claim, you can:
- Make a claim by post. You can download and then fill in the form and send to the address stated on this form.
- You can apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment by contacting the Bereavement Service Helpline who can assist you with the benefit claim.