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Paying for a Funeral

What to do when someone passes away

Funerals can be expensive, so it is important to identify how the arrangements will be financed.

It would be worth checking to see if the deceased has:

  • Contributed to a scheme to pay for the funeral
  • Purchased a pre-paid funeral plan
  • A cremation society certificate
  • Insurance policies or details of an occupational pension scheme.

Help if you receive certain benefits

If the person arranging the funeral is in receipt of certain benefits, they may be able to get a grant or loan - called a Funeral Payment - from Jobcentre Plus to help pay for the funeral. For more information visit the Funeral Payment section of the government's website.

Payment from the estate of the deceased

Normally the bank account of the deceased will be frozen (unless it is a joint account) however, building societies and National Savings may release sums of money to pay for funeral expenses.   As they have no legal obligation to release such funds, they may require grant of probate or letters of administration to have been obtained.

If the deceased was living in a hospital or a residential home, the possessions will be handed over to the nearest surviving relative or to a person with written authority from whoever is dealing with the will.

Employer's pension schemes or personal pensions

Some pension schemes provide a sum to be paid out to cover funeral expenses upon death.  Find out if there was a pension due to be paid on retirement from a previous employer.

Some employers provide occupational pension schemes that pay a lump sum to help with funeral costs, and sometimes pension benefits for widows or other survivors. Check to see if the deceased had ever belonged to this type of scheme.

If there is a pension you should check who is responsible for paying it, for example, the employer or an insurance company.

If you have difficulty in finding the employer (or whoever has taken over responsibility for the pension), you can get help from the pension scheme manager - contact the Pensions Scheme Registry on 0191 225 6316 for help.

The deceased may have made their own pension arrangements if they were self-employed or if their employer did not have an employer's pension scheme.

If the deceased was receiving a pension from a previous job, find out who is paying it. It might be the employer's pension scheme or an insurance company.

Tell the representative of the pension scheme of the deceased, and also inform the widow, widower, dependant child or other dependant. These people may be able to get a pension or further pensions if already in receipt of one.

Other pensions and payments

There may be pensions or lump sums payable from the deceased's trade union, professional body or other association, or from a provident club which pays a benefit when a member dies - contact them directly to find out.

Life insurance policies

The deceased may have taken out a life insurance policy which provides a lump sum payment if someone dies before a certain age (known as a term of assurance or endowment assurance), or on death at any age (whole life insurance).

Payment is usually made after grant of probate, but the insurance company may pay out a limited sum on evidence of death.

Help from the hospital

The health board may arrange for the funeral of someone who dies in hospital if the deceased's relatives cannot be traced or cannot afford to pay for it, however they may make a claim on the deceased's estate to pay for it.

Help from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Under The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has a duty to bury or cremate a person who has died in their area where no arrangements have been made and the deceased's relatives cannot be traced.  We work closely with the coroner, social services residential care, the police and the Government Treasury.

We are empowered to recover costs from any estate of a deceased person. Any remaining funds then passes to the Treasury, however, often the full costs need to be met by the Council.

Long-term help for the family

A death in the family can cause financial hardship, as well as a deep sense of loss and other worries for those who are left.

The financial hardship may be a short-term problem, until the deceased's estate is settled, or it may mean that those who are left need long-term help.

There are various Social Security benefits that can help when someone dies - contact your local office for advice.

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