A funeral director tries to be, as far as possible, a one-stop-shop for all you need. You pay a funeral director for:

Merchandise

A coffin, an urn for ashes. You can source these yourself. Go to the Coffins page on our website.

Services

Looking after the body, embalming if you wish, doing the paperwork and making arrangements for cremation or burial, hire of a hearse and other transport, use of the chapel of rest if you want to visit, and provision of bearers to carry the coffin.

Consultancy

Answering your questions, interpreting your expectations and making you aware of options across a wide range of legal, practical, social and personal issues.

Agency

Sourcing service providers – cemetery or crematorium, celebrant, florist, caterer, printer for your order of service, an alternative hearse, someone who’ll sell you a headstone. Some of these services will be in-house. You can source them yourself. Many undertakers take a referral fee or commission from service and merchandise providers. This is perfectly normal business practice

Overheads

A contribution to the costs of running the business—premises, facilities and those hideously expensive vehicles – a new hearse costs £100,000+.

Disbursements

This is a jargon word for bills you owe to third parties which the undertaker pays on your behalf. Why would they do that? It’s all part of their drive to make themselves indispensable—and it certainly suits the third parties because the undertaker carries the debt.

These bills include:

Crematorium fee – roughly £550-800. Some offer a lower fee (£400 or less) in the early morning. Phone your local crematorium and find out.

Cost of grave. Check with your local authority or church. In some places burial is cheaper than cremation; in others vastly more expensive. You’ll have to pay for gravedigging, too. Hardly any will let you help – for health and safety reasons.

Doctors’ fees. 2 x an average of £85 for cremation, 1 x an average of £85 for burial

Minister or celebrant.  £160-220

Organist. Around £65

Obituary announcement in newspaper – local £60-80; national roughly £25 per line

Any other providers of goods and services sourced by your undertaker – flowers, celebrant, order of service, etc.

You may prefer to pay these individual bills yourself.