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Loved ones left with £89 million funeral bill this January thanks to lack of provision

Posted on 20 January 2017

January always sees more registered deaths than any other time of the year

  • There were more than 13,000 deaths in the first week of 2016; 29% more than the average weekly death rate for the rest of the year1
  • The average funeral now costs £5,8732
  • Half of us either make NO financial provision for our funerals or insufficient to cover full cost3
  • Friends and family left to pay more, almost £1.9k each – which could total £89 million this month4

January can be tough. Not only is there Christmas and New Year to pay for, but to make matters even worse, there is almost six weeks between paydays. January is also the month with the most registered deaths and therefore, the highest funeral bills of the year.

January always sees more registered deaths than any other time of the year, with 47,336 in the first four weeks of 2016; 17% more than the rest of the year. And with the cost of a funeral now standing at £5,873, that is a combined cost of £278,004,328.

And due to the fact that half of us either make no provision or insufficient to cover the full cost, on average, friends and family have to cover 32% of these funeral costs. This is an average of £1,879 , and a total cost this month of £88,944,344.

For one in seven, this cost causes real problems. Of the 13% who said finding the money to pay for a funeral caused them ‘notable financial concerns’, one in five had to borrow money from a friend or relative, one in ten had to get a loan, and a quarter had to use a credit card to pay for the funeral. One in ten were forced to sell belongings to cover the cost.

Graham Jones, Commercial Director at SunLife said: “Funerals are one of the fastest rising fixed costs in the UK and in the past year alone have risen 5.5% which is more than double the rate of pensions, inflation and earnings growth.

While most people are making at least some provision, almost half of us are leaving either nothing or not enough leaving family and friends with a funeral bill of almost £1,900,000 on average.

It can cause loved ones a great deal of added stress at a difficult time if no provisions are in place so it’s important to consider making some plans.”

There are a number of ways to make provision for your funeral – the most popular is through savings and investments (56% of those who had made provision did so this way), while prepaid funeral plans are becoming more popular than life insurance; 28% of those surveyed said the deceased had a funeral plan in place, 16% had life insurance and 14% had an over 50s plan.

Graham concludes “We all know that death is inevitable, but leaving debt and emotional stress behind for our loved ones is not. We want to encourage people to talk about dying and start planning for it, both financially and emotionally.

So we have launched a range of free online tools to help start that big conversation. As well as My Perfect Send-Off – a simple way to record your funeral preferences, we also have a Funeral Calculator to help you work out how much you will need to put aside for your funeral.

Sources

1. Data taken from weekly provisional figures on deaths registered in England and Wales, ONS.

Weekly provisional figures on deaths registered in England and Wales 2016
Week number 1 2 3 4 1-4 inclusive
Week ended 08 Jan 15 Jan 22 Jan 29 Jan 02-29 Jan
Total deaths 13,045 11,501 11,473 11,317 47,336 (average weekly deaths 11,834)
  • Average number of deaths per week over 2016 (total number of deaths weeks 1-49 inclusive =494,445 /49 = 10,091
  • Average number of deaths per week in weeks 1-4 (total number of deaths weeks 1-4 inclusive = 47,336/4 = 11,834
  • Percentage increase from 10,091 (average weekly deaths 2016) to 13,045 (deaths in week 1 2016 (w/e-8 Jan) = 29%
  • Percentage increase from 10,091 (average weekly deaths 2016) to 11,834 (average weekly deaths weeks 1-4 2016 inclusive) = 17%

2. SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2016 finds that the average funeral (the fees for the funeral director, the cremation or burial itself, the doctor, and the minister or celebrant) is £3,897 and the cost of the send-off (the combined cost of the memorial, death and funeral notices, flowers, order sheets, extra limousines, the venue and catering for the wake) is £1,976 making the total funeral cost: £5,873.

3. Of the 1509 people surveyed for the Cost of Dying 2016 report (all of whom had organised a funeral recently), 559 said the deceased made no provision to pay for their funeral. Of the 941 who said the deceased had made some provision, 176 said the provision was not sufficient to cover the full cost. 559+176=735. 735/1509*100 = 48.7%

4. The SunLife Cost of Dying 2016 report found that, on average, 68% of the cost of the funeral (£5,873) was covered by provision made by the deceased, which is £3,994, leaving £1,879 on average, that needs to be paid by family and friends.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). 

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.