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Funeral costs rose 5.5 percent in one year, reports SunLife

SunLife’s 2016 Cost of Dying report has found that funerals rose by 5.5 percent in the course of a year. The insurer has released information that places the average cost of a funeral at £3,897. The total cost of dying – which includes probate, flowers and headstones – has reached £8,802 per person.

The report’s findings drew upon an online survey of 1,509 consumers, carried out between April 2016 and May 2016. It was supported by 100 telephone interviews of funeral directors from across the sector.

Regional variation

The average cost of a London funeral reached £5,529, 42 percent higher than the national average. In comparison, the average price in Northern Ireland was £3,277.

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Financial concerns

SunLife found that 13 percent of people who had organised a funeral within the last four years said it had caused them notable financial concern. 10 percent of those who struggled sold belongings to cover the cost and 24 percent put costs on a credit card.

Talking about death

Only one percent of those who had organised a funeral within the last four years said they were fully aware of the deceased’s wishes. 37 percent knew which funeral director to use and 59 percent knew whether the deceased had preferred cremation or burial. 22 percent were entirely unaware of the deceased’s preferences.

Graham Jones, director at SunLife, said: “We all know that death will eventually come to us all, and therefore, we will all need to pay for a funeral, yet it is something that, as a nation, we are uncomfortable talking about or planning for.

“Unfortunately, this reluctance to talk death is not only causing financial issues, but emotional ones too. Our report shows that just 1 percent of those organising a funeral knew the preferences of the deceased  which means at a difficult time, many of us are forced to make decisions about a loved one’s funeral not knowing if it is what they would have wanted.

“95 percent of those organising a funeral said it was easier when they knew the preferences of the deceased, yet almost a third of those people still haven’t done anything about their own end of life plans, so it is vital that we change our attitude towards death.

“Talking about it won’t make it happen, but if we don’t, we will end up putting a huge financial and emotional burden on those left behind.”

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