Arranging the Funeral and Choosing a Funeral Director
Arranging a Funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death has been registered. Most people use a Funeral Director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.
You do not have to wait until you have registered the death before contacting a funeral director. Funeral directors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the earlier they get involved, the sooner they will be able to act on your behalf to support you and find out when the necessary documents allowing the funeral to proceed will be issued.
The final arrangements for the funeral should not be made until you have contacted the Patient & Family Support Team and are sure that the death does not have to be referred to the coroner. If the death has been referred to the coroner, the coroner’s officer will advise you what to do. The funeral director will liaise with the coroner for you.
Family friends or clergy may be able to suggest reputable funeral directors. hoose a funeral director who is a member of one of the following:
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- National Federation of Funeral Directors
- Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
These organisations have a code of practice – they must give you a price list when asked.
There are more options concerning the content of a funeral ceremony and its duration. 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 department of your local authority for guidance. Information is also obtainable from the Natural Death Centre
The funeral director will help you make all the arrangements for the funeral and will usually provide the following services:
- Transfer of the deceased from the hospital mortuary to the chapel of rest
- Care for the deceased prior to the funeral
- Advise on funeral arrangements including the burial or cremation
- Advise on a suitable coffin and hearse
- Arrange optional extras, for example, providing a car for mourners during the funeral, flowers and an obituary notification
Please remember, it is important that you do not confirm the funeral arrangements until you are sure the death does not have to be referred to the coroner, since this may affect the date when the funeral can be held.
Do I have to use a Funeral Director? Rights and options
The main requirements in England and Wales are that the death is certified by a Doctor or Coroner, is 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. 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 department of your local authority for guidance.
Information is also obtainable from the Natural Death Centre
Costs for the same services may vary considerably from one funeral director to another. You may wish to get more than one quote in order to compare costs.
The funeral can be paid for:
- From the financial scheme the deceased had eg, a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
- By family members or friends
- With money from the deceased’s estate, for example from savings. Gaining access to the deceased’s estate is called applying for a ‘grant of representation’ or ‘applying for probate’
Help with funeral costs
You may be able to get a £2.000 Bereavement Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner has died. This is a one-off, tax-free, lump-sum payment. Bereavement Benefits pack (formBB1) are available from your local Jobcentre Plus or by contacting the Bereavement Service on
- Telephone: 0345 606 0265
- Welsh Language: 0345 606 50275
- Text phone: 0345 606 0285
- Welsh Language 0345 606 0295
Alternatively, download and fill in the Bereavement Benefit pack from www.gov.uk/bereavement-payment
You can apply for a funeral payment if you have difficulty paying for the funeral.
For further information please visit https://www.gov.uk/bereavement-payment
Please be aware that the maximum payment available is not generally sufficient to cover the full cost of the funeral. If you are using a funeral director, tell them at the very start before you commit to any arrangements if a funeral payment is the only money available. They will advise you accordingly.
Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau can help with all legal and practical matters following a death:
Age UK also provide advice and information to anyone over the age of 60 about funeral arrangements and welfare benefits: