The UK’s funeral debt now stands at £142 million according to a new study and the group behind the report is calling for an immediate review of the system.

More than 100,000 adults are living with funeral debts passed on from the deceased, although the study by Royal London did reveal that Brits show resilience when finding the necessary funds.

The Royal London National Funeral Cost Index showed the average cost of a funeral in the UK is £3,551, while the average debt totalled £1,305.

It highlights the need for people to be aware of family finances and to carefully manage their own so that they are not caught out by any unexpected events.

Being prepared for the cost of dying

YouGov surveyed nearly 2,000 people on behalf of Royal London that had arranged a funeral in the past five years and 46% said it had cost more than expected.

Of those surprised by the cost, 42% said paying them off was an issue although only 11% choose a cheaper funeral option.

More than a third used their savings, 28% borrowed money from friends and family and one in five people entered debt in order to pay.

The study is published in conjunction with the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, the organisation representing professionals that work in burial and crematorium authorities.

Their data suggested that the UK funeral market is “polarising society” as some people can afford costs and others can’t.

Widespread cost variation

For instance, costs vary by location as a crematorium in Belfast charges £2,859 while a burial in Beckenham costs £6,899 – the most expensive costs noted.

As a result of the study, Royal London had called for a fundamental review of the Social Find Funeral Payment system – put in place to provide a state safety net for funeral costs.

One suggestion was that the Fund’s cap of £700 should be linked to inflation and adjusted to reflect living costs, thus easing the burden on those covering the costs of funerals.

More than half of the people questioned in the study also said they felt not enough financial support is available for bereaved families

Planning for the future

While death is something that will eventually occur to everyone, planning for it is something that many people choose to avoid.

This is completely understandable but the latest study does highlight the need for financial management generally.

Limiting spending or saving money can be achieved with the clever use of a prepaid card, as disposable income can be loaded onto it and then used accordingly.

This prevents over-spending and also ensures that finances are available in other accounts to deal with any unexpected events that may occur.

Since a prepaid card is not directly linked to a bank account, the risks of fraud and potential financial issues are also greatly reduced.