Planning your own funeral: guide

Guide to planning your own funeral including help with costs.

Paying for your funeral

A funeral can be an expensive and unexpected cost. The final bill could run into thousands of pounds, and an increasing number of people are struggling to pay funeral bills. While there's a responsibility on us all to plan ahead, it's the person arranging the funeral who is responsible for paying this bill.

Many people in Scotland are now taking steps to plan ahead not just for the arrangements they would wish to happen at their own funeral, but also to save towards the cost of their funeral. This forward planning is essential to make your funeral wishes easier for your family and friends to carry out at a time when they'll be grieving.

You'll need to think about the cost of your funeral. This could include saving money or making plans for how to help meet the costs of your funeral when the time comes.

There are lots of different options for saving for your funeral and it is important to think about what is right for your own personal circumstances, your budget, and how your savings plan will pay for your funeral wishes.

If you decide to take out a funeral plan or insurance policy, or to use a savings account to cover the cost of your funeral, make sure you tell your family.

There are different ways you can save for your funeral. These include:

1. Pre-paid funeral plans

A funeral plan allows you to pay in advance for your funeral, usually at today's prices. These plans can differ between companies in what they offer and what level of service is provided. Not all plans cover the full costs of a funeral – so it's important you understand what's being covered.

2. Insurance

You can choose from a number of different insurance options. These include:

  • over 50s plans
  • Term Life Insurance
  • Whole-Of-Life Assurance

You'll need to pay into some of these plans for a fixed term. Others you will need to pay into for the whole of your life.

Insurance schemes provide a fixed sum when you die but you should look at the terms to see how much is payable on your death, and how much you're paying in over time. You might want to use a life expectancy calculator to get an idea of the length of time you might be expected to pay.

3. Savings

Putting money aside to go towards the cost of your funeral in a credit union or other savings account might be more suitable for you than making an ongoing commitment such as insurance premium or funeral plan instalment. For example, if you don't have steady income or work in a temporary job.

Most credit unions offer 'insured savings' accounts to their members. 'Insured savings' accounts can pay out up to twice their savings value on the member's death.

Ask your local credit union for advice on what they can offer and how you can start saving with them.

Top tips for funeral saving

When saving for your funeral:

  • read the terms and conditions before signing up to any savings accounts, insurance policies or funeral plans
  • don't rush to buy policies or plans
  • make sure you understand how much any ongoing payments will cost, how long you'll have to make payments for and if these could rise in future
  • consider different options and shop around to make sure you get the best deal for your money
  • make sure pre-paid funeral plans cover all the elements you would like to be included and know what else will have to be paid for at the time of the funeral
  • check if any insurance premiums could rise in the future and think about how you'll pay for any rises
  • be aware that you could pay more into an over 50s plan than your estate receives
  • shop around for the best rates on savings accounts

4. Help with the cost of my funeral

If you're not able to save enough to pay for your funeral then your family and friends might be able to get help with these costs.

However, this will depend on their situation at the time of your death and it's important to remember that it's the person arranging the funeral who's responsible for paying the funeral bill.

Your estate

Your family and friends will need help from the executor or administrator of your estate to check your personal papers and accounts. They will find out what funding is available from your estate to cover the costs of your funeral. For example:

  • a pre-paid funeral plan
  • an insurance policy
  • any money in your accounts
  • other assets

Funeral Support Payment

Funeral Support Payment is provided by Social Security Scotland to people who live in Scotland and who need help with the costs of arranging a funeral.

It provides a contribution towards the funeral costs and is available to the nearest relative or friend if they are receiving certain benefits and have responsibility for organising a funeral. Funeral Support Payment won't usually cover the full cost of the funeral but it can help pay for some costs.

Only one person can get Funeral Support Payment for a funeral. It won't be available if a payment has already been received by someone else or if other government support has already been made for the same funeral. This includes Funeral Expenses Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions or Northern Ireland's Funeral Expenses Payment.

For more information on Funeral Support Payment contact:

Bereavement Support Payment

The Bereavement Support Payment is provided by the Department of Work and Pensions. If eligible for this support you can also apply for it in addition to the Funeral Support Payment from Social Security Scotland.

Bereavement Support Payment is available to your husband, wife, or civil partner if they are under State Pension Age and live in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits. They could be eligible if you:

  • died on or after 6 April 2017; and
  • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks; or
  • died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work.

How you apply depends on where you live.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales. You can apply using a form from the Department of Work and Pensions or by via their Bereavement Service helpline

If you live in Northern Ireland. You can apply using a form from NI Direct or via their Bereavement Service

  • Telephone: 0800 085 2463

If you live abroad, you can apply by telephoning the International Pension Centre

  • +44 (0) 191 218 7608.

Removal of Child Burial and Cremation Charges

On 30 May 2018 the Scottish Government made a joint commitment with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) that local authorities will no longer charge burial and cremation fees for children (anyone under 18 years of age). You will not need to apply separately for this.

Local council burial or cremation

Finally, where a person dies and where no arrangements are being made for their burial or cremation, the council must make these arrangements.

Information about this provision is available from individual local councils.

To find out which council area you are in visit:



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