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How to Keep Funeral Costs Low: DIY Funeral Planning

Nowadays funerals are rarely inexpensive. In their 2020 ‘Cost of Dying Report’, SunLife demonstrated how the average cost of a funeral alone in the UK amounts to £4,417. As each year passes, this average increases way above the normal rate of inflation: a prospect made all the more daunting by the fact that a death incurs many other costs, and not simply those of the funeral. In spite of this however, there are numerous efficient ways that one can minimise funeral costs whilst still allowing for the creation of a respectful and dignified end of life service. In this blog we explore some key means by which you might help to keep the funeral costs low.


Before you decide to arrange a ‘Do It Yourself’ funeral

Before you commit to taking on the responsibility of planning a funeral, be sure to ask yourself if you are prepared to do so, both practically and mentally. Whilst funeral directors can seem expensive, they spend many hours of their day researching and arranging the logistics of a funeral and this may not be a time-commitment you are able to meet, especially if you are grieving. However, for some planning the funeral might prove to be a welcome distraction and means of channelling their grief. If you feel up to the task, below are some starting points for consideration.


Where to begin: What can we do ourselves?

If you think about the services typically offered by funeral providers, amongst other things, they might include some of the following:


  1. Admin support
  2. Care and transportation of the deceased
  3. A coffin or urn
  4. A minister or officiant to lead the service


A good place to start when considering if you should arrange the funeral yourself, is how many of these tasks you would reasonably be able to complete. To provide an idea of how achievable this would be, let us work through the above examples. 


1. What paperwork will I need to consider?


Registering the death

Following someone’s death, there are a few essential pieces of paperwork that need to be attained. 


First and foremost, you must register the death. You can do this at a registry office and you will then be provided with a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (depending on which service you choose). You will also receive a Certificate of Registration of Death. In England and Wales you must register a death within 5 days of the death. In Scotland, you have 8 days to register the death. Head to GOV.UK for further detailed information on how to register a death. 


Booking the crematorium or purchasing a burial plot

You will need to provide the Certificate for Burial or Cremation before you are able to confirm the cremation or burial. 


If you opt for a cremation, you will also need to provide:


  • A cremation application: This form needs to be completed by a close friend or relative of the deceased, granting authorisation for the cremation to take place. In England and Wales the cremation application might also be referred to as a ‘Form 1’ and in Scotland, a ‘Form A’.
  • A medical certificate noting the cause of death: This certificate must be signed by a doctor and must confirm the cause of death. 


If you choose to bury the deceased, you will need to provide:


  • A burial plot application: This form will be issued by the relevant cemetery or your local council when you wish to purchase a burial plot or re-open an existing one. The application form will normally specify the conditions under which the burial plot can be purchased, aka only for a set number of years.


NB: If the death is referred to a coroner, you will not need to provide a medical certificate outlining the cause of death. In this instance, you will be issued instead with a ‘Form 6’ (England and Wales), or a ‘Form E’ (Scotland), for a cremation and a ‘Form 101’ in the place of a burial certificate. 


2. Care and transportation of the deceased


These requirements can be split into two parts, where the latter is likely to be the easiest to arrange. 


Care of the deceased

After someone has passed away, they will need to be stored in a cool environment to slow their rate of decomposition. Most funeral and care homes have specialist refrigeration facilities, as do hospitals and hospices. If you wish to keep your loved one at home, you will need to hire or provide appropriate equipment to ensure the conditions are correct for their storage. It is also worth remembering that it is not recommended to look after a body from home for more than a week following the death, so bear this in mind if the funeral or cremation is not arranged to take place for a number of days.


Arranging transportation

This should prove easier to facilitate than caring for your loved one at home, as most transportation can be arranged simply with the hiring of an estate car or a van. Do remember to also ensure that you have a team of family or friends who are able to assist with carrying the deceased from the vehicle and who are able to essentially act as pall-bearers during the service. 


3. Sourcing a coffin or urn


A great way to save on costs when arranging a funeral yourself is to purchase (or even make), your own coffin or urn. There is a considerable range of quality and styles available for both, and often you will be able to secure something appropriate for a reasonable price after doing a little research. The Good Funeral Guide has useful information on what to be aware of when browsing for your own selection. Do remember that simplicity can be just as elegant as elaborate design, and that often a little creativity will lead to wonderful, personal results.


4. Who should lead the service?


Often you might hire a minister, celebrant or officiant to lead the service. However, you are more than welcome to arrange for a family member or friend to perform the service. If you feel up to it, you could even lead the service yourself. In addition to saving on fees, you may create a more meaningful, personable service as it will be performed by someone who personally knew the deceased. Of course, you might choose not to have a service at all, or even to arrange a celebration of life or memorial service much further down the line. 


Direct Cremations are a suitable alternative if you do not feel that a service is necessary. At Neo Cremations, our direct cremations include the following:


  • Admin support
  • Collection of the deceased and taking into our care
  • Solid FSC-certified pine wood coffin
  • A biodegradable urn
  • Return of the ashes by hand if you so wish
  • A remembrance tree with a tree certificate
  • Carbon offsetting 


Whilst we provide a highly dignified service for the deceased, we do so by arranging the essentials only. We do not believe that end-of-life services need to be elaborate or filled with unnecessary ceremonial extras in order to be respectful and appropriate, and as such, we are able to offer a highly economical rate. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you arrange a funeral for your loved one, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our support team today.

Lara Webster

Lead Content Writer

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