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Arranging a funeral

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, please contact us for further information. 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
  • The 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)

A simple funeral

Some people will 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.

Funeral costs

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, for example for crematorium, minister, doctors' certificates, newspaper announcements and flowers. Ask the funeral director for a written quotation detailing all these fees.

Funeral payments are normally recoverable from the deceased's estate.

Financial help

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, 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 and/or
  • Working tax credit.

For further information you can contact the benefit enquiry line on freephone 0800 882 200 or text phone 0800 243 355.

Complaints

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 two trade associations listed below your funeral director belongs to:

Complaints can go to Trading Standards if you do not feel that you have the service or product that was agreed.

Purchasing a grave space

The purchasing of a grave space long before it is used is now becoming an acceptable procedure in that it avoids the family unnecessary worry after the death. When an interment and purchase of a new grave has taken place, bearing in mind that most plots are for two interments, a further family member can purchase where possible the adjoining plot by reserving the same.

A reservation form can be obtained from the cemeteries office or by telephone request. It is possible to arrange an on-site meeting for you to choose a plot. Once the form is completed and returned with the appropriate payment a grant for the grave will be issued as proof of ownership.

Further information 

Contact us

Contact us for more information about arranging a funeral.

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