Request a callback

What happens when someone dies and there is no money for funeral costs?

By Maplebrook Wills

12th Jul '18

Funeral Planning

When someone dies, the funeral plan they bought previously will take effect. If they didn’t buy a funeral plan, the will’s executor pays for the funeral out of the estate.

Alternatively, a relative or friend could pay, and claim the cost back from the estate.

But what if there’s no money in the estate to pay the funeral costs?

According to the Government-funded Money Advice Service, if there’s insufficient money in your estate or no relatives or friends available, your local council or hospital can take care of the funeral – usually a cremation.

You’ll be able to go along but the local authority will decide the time and date. There’ll probably be a short service but don’t expect flowers, cards or notices in the local newspaper.

There is another option, however. If you’re on a low income and receiving certain benefits, such as income support, housing benefit, child tax credit or universal credit – you may be eligible for Funeral Expenses Payment.

The amount you receive as Funeral Expenses Payment depends on your circumstances. It won’t cover the whole cost of the funeral but will go towards burial or cremation fees, travel costs, the cost of moving a body, and death certificates.

Funeral Expenses Payment also pays up to £700 for funeral director’s fees, flowers or a coffin.

However, the amount you receive will be deducted from any money you do get from the deceased’s estate.

And if the deceased did have a funeral plan that didn’t pay for everything, Funeral Expenses Payment will pay up to £120 to cover those costs, provided you’re eligible.

Other eligibility criteria

As well as receiving particular benefits, there are other eligibility criteria. You must be a partner, close relative or friend of the deceased at the time of their death, the parent of a stillborn child after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or the parent or guardian responsible for a deceased child aged under 16 – or under 20 and in approved education or training.

What’s more, the rules only apply if the funeral takes place in the UK, Switzerland or a country in the European Economic Area.

For full details on Funeral Expenses Payment, visit the UK Government website.


Claiming Government money at a time when a partner or close friend has passed away is likely to be extremely stressful. So if you haven’t already got one yourself, consider buying a pre-paid funeral plan sooner rather than later.

Why? Because the cost of funeral plans increases up to 10% every year. Today, the national average is £4,078 according to the Money Advice Service. By 2030, it’s set to exceed £10,000.


Buy a plan now and you can lock in at a much lower price and save money from your estate. At Maplebrook Wills, we’ll give you expert advice on choosing the right plan for you. Give us a call on Call 0117 440 1230.

Free consultation call

Never considered writing a will?
Change of personal circumstances?
Book a no-pressure, no obligation call to understand your options.
Book a call

What our clients say