Dying ‘cheaper than it was a year ago’


Dying is cheaper than it was a year ago, a study revealed today.

An annual report showed in 2009 the average cost of death was £7,098 including cars, probate, flowers and other essentials.

Now grieving families can expect to have to find around £6,801 – a drop of £297 – to bury or cremate a relative.

The fall in cost is due to companies which supply funeral related services cutting their prices to win business during the economic downturn.

Worryingly, the study by Sun Life Direct also found one in ten families struggle to give a loved one a decent send-off, with many falling into debt or selling possessions to pay the bill.

Yesterday Mark Howes, managing director of Sun Life Direct said: ”It’s a traumatic enough time when saying goodbye to those closest to you, without having to face almost devastating financial and emotional effects from having to find funeral costs too.

”Over 1.5 million people in the UK face a major bereavement each year and as almost half have made no provision for their funeral, loved ones are left facing severe financial difficulties.

”It may seem hard to do, but it is sensible to bring up the subject of funeral planning with your family so that you won’t be leaving your loved ones with the emotional distress at having to borrow money or ‘cut corners’, as they say goodbye to a cherished family member or friend.”

The annual Total Cost Of Dying study was carried out among 1,514 adults who have planned a funeral within the last five years.

It found the basic cost of a funeral rose to almost £3,000 this year, up by 49 per cent in just seven years, due to funeral directors offering additional services such as charity donations, music or counselling.

On top of that the administration of the estate plus flowers and memorials push the average bill up to a staggering £6,801 – the equivalent of three months pre-tax salary for the typical worker.

But the fall in the price of funeral services has seen the overall cost drop.

The report also revealed the extent to which a death, expected or not, can leave a family in the red.

It emerged one in ten borrow cash or sell possessions to pay for an average deficit of £1,517.

Sun Life Direct also estimate around 25,000 people each year borrow money to say goodbye to their nearest and dearest with 21 per cent using a credit card, 20 per cent borrowing from pals and four per cent using a commercial loan.

Most distressingly, over 2,500 (five per cent) said they sold belongings to pay the bill.

It also emerged almost half (46 per cent) of those who died made no provision for their death.

The report also showed more people than ever before are slashing the bill by taking care of catering or the administration of the estate by themselves.

The recession forced many families to cut back on areas not seen as strictly necessary, such as limousine hire, which saw the average cost fall from £487 in 2008 to just £229 this year.

The typical figure spent on flowers has also fallen to £128, compared to £229 in 2007.

Regionally, the total cost of dying varies dramatically. The average cost is highest in London where families will pay around £9,367, and cheapest in Wales where £5,451).

It also emerged the number of people opting for cremations – which cost around £2,546 – instead of burials, is still rising.

Scotland is one of the only places where burials are more common, with 32 per cent opting for it, compared to the national average of 20 per cent.


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