The rising cost of dying

The rising cost of dying

The cost of dying has rocketed more than 10% in the last year, says the latest annual SunLife Cost of Dying report.

This looks at all death-related costs including probate, headstones and flowers, as well as the basic cost of a funeral.

The cost of dying has rocketed by 10.6% – seven times the rate of inflation – to a whopping £8,427. That's one of the fastest rises in the history of SunLife's report.

What a funeral costs

According to the report, the average cost of a basic funeral, including the fees for the funeral director, a cremation or burial, doctor and minister or celebrant, now comes to £3,590. That's up 3.9% from last year and an incredible 87% higher than in the first SunLife study a decade ago.

Administration of the estate now costs a whopping £3,004. This is one of the biggest contributors to the sharp rise in the overall cost of dying, with estate administration costs rocketing by 39% over the past 12 months.

A further £1,833 is spent on additional extras like memorial, death and funeral notices, flowers, order sheets, the venue and catering for the wake.

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Do it yourself

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the rocketing admin costs, a growing number of people are electing to manage their loved one's send-off without professional help. Just under half (48%) now do it themselves, compared to 39% in 2013.

Costs are a big concern for many. One in seven who have organised a funeral in the past four years admitted it had caused them concern and left them out of pocket, with the average shortfall standing at a considerable £2,371.

As a result, 42% of those people had to dip into savings or investments to help pay for the funeral, a quarter borrowed money from friends, while 22% turned to credit cards to cover the costs.

The SunLife report follows the Royal London Funeral Cost Index, published last week, which highlighted that funeral costs are pushing thousands into debt.

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Regional differences

Here's how the different regions of the UK shape up when it comes to specifically funeral costs, and how those costs have changed over the past year.

RegionAverage funeral cost in 2014Change from 2013
South West£3,883+7.4%
South East and East£3,704+4.2%
Yorkshire and the Humber£3,527+3.2%
East and West Midlands£3,523+5.1%
North East£3,466+4.2%
Northern Ireland£3,058+3.8%
North West£3,028+3.8%

Source: SunLife

As you can see, while London is the most expensive, it's the only region that has seen prices actually fall over the last year. The South West and Wales have seen the biggest price rises of 7.4% and 8.6% respectively.

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