Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Cost of Dying 2014: Average costs have risen 87% in 10 years

Thu Oct 16 10:48:00 BST 2014


Over recent years funeral costs have risen sharply, by 3.9 per cent since 2013 and by a staggering 87 per in 10 years since SunLife’s first survey in 2004, to £3,590. Despite this, funeral costs account for less than half the total cost of dying.

This year’s increase is attributed to a significant rise in estate administration costs, by nearly 40 per cent. The average cost of hiring a professional, such as a solicitor to help manage the affairs of a deceased loved one, now accounts for more than a third of the overall cost.

As costs continue to rise, ‘funeral poverty’ – the national funeral funding shortfall – now stands at nearly £200 million, 125 per cent higher than four years ago, with the situation expected to deteriorate over coming years. SunLife projects that funeral costs will continue to rise considerably, to an estimated £4,489 by 2019.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences who has been advising on the report, suggests: “The costs associated with the end of life are rising and it is worrying that people are not prepared for what they may have to face.

“It is important to remember that at a time of great emotional upheaval, the financial implications of someone dying are not simply about money. They also include questions of who is responsible for the funeral and the estate, and their administration. Putting some plans in place while you are in reasonable health, however informal or formal, big or small, can go a long way to facilitating a smoother passage for those left behind.”