January could be the death of you - and your family's finances

people at a funeral

January sees more deaths than any other month, as the result of a combination of the cold (which increases deaths from heart disease), January blues, post-Christmas stress and an odd phenomenon that sees people 'holding on' for the New Year. Unfortunately for the family who loses a loved one, January is also the month when they can least afford to pay for the funeral.

See also: Whatever else you leave in your will - don't forget your passwords

See also: You might want to sit down: funeral debts hit astonishing highs

See also: Could you be buried by mistake?


There were more than 47,000 deaths in the first four weeks of January last year. That's 17% more than any other month that year. And the higher death rate wasn't just a 2016 phenomenon - there are always more deaths in January.

As a result, thousands of people were left to deal with the shocking cost of the funeral.

Expensive funerals

The average funeral now costs £5,873, so overall we will spend around £278 million on funerals this January. Unfortunately, most people still leave no financial provision for their own funeral - or not enough. It means the average family is left with a bill of £1,900, and at this time of year this is especially challenging.

Graham Jones, Commercial Director at SunLife said: "Funerals are one of the fastest rising fixed costs in the UK and in the past year alone have risen 5.5% which is more than double the rate of pensions, inflation and earnings growth. While most people are making at least some provision, almost half of us leaving either nothing or not enough leaving family and friends with a funeral bill of almost £2k on average. It can cause loved ones a great deal of added stress at a difficult time."

With six weeks between paydays, most people are struggling to get to the end of January with their finances intact, so it comes as another nasty blow that they need to track down almost £2,000 in funeral costs.

For one in seven, this causes real financial problems. Within this group, one in five had to borrow money from friends or family, one in ten had to get a loan, one in ten sold belongings to raise the money, and a quarter of them put it on a credit card.

Make plans

It goes to show how important it is to make plans for your funeral. It's worth starting out by calculating roughly how much you need to leave for the funeral. SunLife has a handy calculator, which will take into account your location and the kind of funeral you want in order to establish the likely cost.

It's also important to make a note of the kind of funeral you want, and have a conversation with those around you. This is especially the case if you don't want a fancy and expensive send-off. Many people will feel they ought to spend as much as possible, so they don't let their loved one down. So if you want them to save their money, it's best to tell them.

Next consider the most appropriate way to leave cash to cover the cost. There are several approaches worth considering. Some 56% of people who make plans for the event will leave savings and investments, to cover the cost. It's perfectly possible for the family to access this cash with the help of the executor of the will, to pay the bills.

Another 28% have a pre-paid funeral plan in place, 16% have life insurance, and 14% have an 'over 50s plan'. All these approaches have their pros and cons, so it's worth thinking them through carefully to ensure you understand exactly how much you will end up putting into a plan, and what you can expect to get back - as well as whether the lump sum you get will cover the cost of the funeral you want, and what will happen if something goes wrong - such as the funeral director going out of business.

If you have put aside money to pay for the funeral, don't forget to tell your family about this too. There's no central directory for people to check if you have a plan, so you need to make a specific note of any scheme you are a member of.

Nobody wants to think about planning their own funeral - or paying for it. However, it's far better for you to consider it now, than leaving your loved ones with a £2,000 bill and weeks to wait for payday - at what is already a deeply traumatic time for them.



12 PHOTOS
Highest-earning dead celebrities
See Gallery
Highest-earning dead celebrities
MJ may have died over six years ago but his legacy still lives on. The King of Pop made $115m this year, but how? Cirque du Soleil in Vegas showcasing Michael Jackson One is one of the source's of Michael Jackson's cash flow but the Mijac Music catalogue and music sales also contribute.
Elvis pulls in most of his money from ticket sales at his Graceland home. Now it may seem surprising that this rock and roll legend could generate that much income from tours of his home, but it makes more sense when you realise a regular adult ticket will set you back $77!
The Marley Beverage Company and House of Marley are just two of the companies bringing in the big bucks for reggae legend Bob Marley. Music sales are also obviously a huge contributor with more than 75 million albums sold so far. 
Celebrity fragrances might not really be that sought after any more but White Diamonds, one of Elizabeth Taylor's perfumes, was first released 24 years ago and continues to be sold to this day proving that maybe there really are some things that never go out of fashion. 
Marilyn Monroe is undoubtedly still an international fashion and film icon. In 2011, Authentic Brand Group bought the rights to her brand and it's thanks to them that she's still pulling in top dollar as well as a clothing line at American store, Macy's, and a range of lingerie.
John Lennon was part of one of the biggest musical acts of all time, The Beatles, although unfortunately his stardom was cut short when he was shot dead in 1980. The songwriter still gets his share of the album sales though and is reported to take $12 million each year. 
Einstein is one of the most famous scientists in history having come up with the general theory of relativity. Branded mechandise and memorabilia is the main source of the theoretical physicists revenue now though.
Paul Walker was just 40-years-old when he died in 2013 in a car crash, but his legacy still lives on thanks to the film franchise, The Fast and the Furious. The most recent film took $1.5 billion and although Walker died during filming, he still appears in the flick.
Bettie Page was one of America's iconic pin-up girls, even gaining the nickname 'Queen of Pinups' thanks to her trademark look. The model was also one of the earliest Playmates of the Month to feature in Playboy magazine. Page now makes most of her money at the hands of fashion, clothing and lingerie lines. 
Theodor Geisel was responsible for some of the quirkiest and best-loved cartoon characters and children's book heroes. The artist and author published his works under the title of Dr.Seuss with some of his most famous creations including The Lorax, The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat still netting him money to this day. 

Not to be confused with the award-winning film director of the same name, Steve McQueen was, at one point, one of the highest paid film stars in the world. Some of McQueen's most famous films include The Thomas Crown Affair, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. His image is still used in adverts and commercials, bringing in $9 million worth of revenue. 

James Dean was a certified heartthrob and cultural icon of the 1950s who sadly died in a car accident at the age of just 24. His iconic image has been used throughout the last 60 years in a variety of ways all of which have been bringing in the cash. Most recently Dean's image was featured on a designer Dolce & Gabbana tshirt. 
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS