The number of people dying without making any specific provision to pay for their funeral has risen by 11%1according to SunLife’s Cost of Dying report. The average cost of the cremation or burial, including the fees for the funeral director, the doctor, and the minister or celebrant is now £4,078. The send-off costs (order sheets, additional limos, flowers, funeral notice, memorial, the wake) come to £1,928 on average, which means when the cost of administering the estate is also added, the total cost of dying is now £8,905.

Two in five people don’t make any provision at all, and of those that do, one in five don’t leave enough to cover the cost. This shortfall means that on average, families are having to find £2,356 to cover the cost of their loved ones’ funerals – a total cost of more than £1.2 billion2.

For one in nine families, the burden of covering these costs causes significant financial problems and almost two thirds (63%) have to borrow the money either from a friend or relative (27%) or a loan provider (13%). A quarter put the balance on a credit card and one in eight (12%) have to work out a payment plan with the funeral director. Shockingly, a further one in eight (12%) had to sell their belongings to cover the cost.

There is also a general issue with people underestimating how much funerals cost; this year, SunLife’s research found that 30% of people organising a funeral said it cost more than they expected and more than a third of those said it cost a lot more. As a result, one in ten had to cut back or change some of the ‘send-off’ costs they had planned for their loved one.

Graham Jones Commercial Director at SunLife: “We all know that death is inevitable, but leaving debt and emotional stress behind for our loved ones is not, so it is so important that we start talking about dying and start planning for it, both financially and emotionally.

“We have a range of free online tools to help start that big conversation. As well as our funeral calculator to help you work out how much you will need to put aside for your funeral we have also My Perfect Send-off  – a simple way to record your funeral preferences and When Someone Dies a step by step guide telling you everything you need to do when a loved one passes away.”