Arranging a funeral
The following information is to give advice about arranging a funeral. It explains:
- Your rights and options
- The funeral Director's role
- What a simple funeral might include
- Funeral costs and sources of help
- How to complain if you are not satisfied with the services provided
Rights and Options
The main requirements in England and Wales are that the death is certified by a doctor or coroner, registered with a Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the body either buried or cremated.
- 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 more options concerning the content of a funeral ceremony and its duration than many people realise. Woodland burial and other 'green options' are increasingly 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 Departments of your local authority for guidance, please contact the Council using the details at the bottom of the page. You could also get information from the Natural Death Centre. Some funeral directors are willing to help with such funerals.
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
- Recommendation of those who have used the service
- Ownership (small family business or large firm)
A List of Funeral Directors is provided for information only.
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 the deceased from the place of death to the funeral director's premises
- Care for the deceased prior to the funeral
- Provide a hearse to the nearest cemetery or crematorium
- Arrange for burial or cremation as appropriate
Embalming, viewing of the deceased, or providing a limousine for mourners are optional extras.
Costs for the same services may vary considerably from one funeral director to another. You may wish to get more than one quote to compare costs.
Disbursements are fees paid to others, e.g. for crematorium, 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.
Remember the cheapest service is not necessarily the best value.
If you arrange a funeral you are responsible for paying the bill, so check where the money will come from first.
If you are finding it difficult to pay for a funeral that you have to arrange, you may be entitled to a Social Fund Funeral Payment providing you or your partner receive one of the following:
- Income Support
- Housing benefit
- Council tax benefit
- Job seekers allowance (income based)
- Disabled person's tax credit
- Working family's tax credit
For further information you can contact the Benefit Enquiry Line on Freephone 0800 882 200 or Text phone 0800 243 355
Most funerals are conducted well. But if you have a justified complaint, you should contact your funeral director. If you are not satisfied with the response, you can complain to whichever of the three trade associations listed below your funeral director belongs to:
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
- Funeral Standards Council
The Funeral Ombudsman Scheme deals with complaints that cannot be resolved at trade Association level.
Funeral Ombudsman Scheme
26 - 28
- Tel: 02074 301112
- Fax: 02074 301012
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It does not deal with complaints relating to members of the National Association of Funeral Directors, which has its own independent client redress scheme. Advice may also be obtained from your local trading standards department.
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