Funeral pricing – your questions answered

In response to some of our most frequently asked questions, we have written a series of posts on those topics which require further explanation

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Abi Pattenden, Manager of Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors
Abi Pattenden, Manager of Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors

Freeman Brothers has been carrying out funerals in Sussex and Surrey since 1855. As we have been so long established as Funeral Directors, we have a good sense of some of the most common questions people have around funerals. Taking feedback from colleagues in Horsham, Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint as to what we are asked frequently, we have produced a series of blog posts addressing some of these issues.

Today, we will be looking at some of the questions that we are very often asked around the price of a funeral, what factors make up the costs, and the implications of choosing our Simple Funeral.

The costs which make up a funeral are split into two parts; the funeral director’s charges, and ‘Disbursements’, charged by third parties but often paid (and then charged back to you) by the funeral director.

The funeral director’s charges can be hard to compare between different firms. There is no obligation to list charges in a standard way so variation is to be expected. Regardless of terminology or layout, you can always expect a funeral director’s charge or set of charges to include the following components:

  • a charge to cover the administrative aspects such as completion of paperwork, arranging and confirming the funeral and the officiant, and so on. This may also include preparing the Deceased person for the funeral. The collection and transmission of charitable donations might be included in a service charge but may attract an extra fee
  • a charge to collect the Deceased person from where they have died and bring to the funeral director’s premises. This might vary depending on various factors such as distance from the premises or time of the collection – or these may not be taken into account if one fee applies regardless. For example, Freeman Brothers does not levy a charge for local collections during working hours. We base our charges for non-local journeys on their mileage and our out-of-hours rates are set dependent upon times. We think this is the fairest approach as it relates most closely to the costs we incur in carrying out these activities
  • transport to convey the Deceased person to their funeral. Some funeral directors offer many options for you to choose at their respective costs. Many firms, especially smaller ones, have a standard offering but can obtain something else through subcontracting
  • the provision of staff. If family bearers are used, the need for a full team of staff, and so the costs of this may reduce but there will always need to be some of the funeral director’s staff present, if nothing else than to drive the vehicle(s)
  • the provision of a coffin. This is a whole topic in itself which we will elaborate on below!

Other services provided by the funeral director, which would usually levy additional charges, could include family transport, stationery such as Orders of Service or Condolence Books, and memorial items including those for the cremated remains.

Coffins are often a topic of questions themselves. Freeman Brothers offers a wide range to try to cater to all tastes, including those people who feel that any cost above the minimum required is wasteful. We do often find the simplest designs are too basic in appearance for many tastes, though. Clients are often surprised that both cardboard and willow coffins are not cheaper than the more traditional-looking coffins made of a chipboard base and then veneered – for the near future this will probably continue to be the case. Willow coffins are handmade with the costs this implies – much like commissioning a carpenter to make you a table instead of buying one from a shop, you still have a table but it is made bespoke to your requirements. Cardboard coffins don’t cost much more than standard ones but the variety of available designs mean they have to be ordered upon request. Therefore the substantial carriage charge which accompanies that order has to be factored into the final price. Veneered coffins are made through automated processes and we can order in bulk which enables us to keep their costs lower. It must also be remembered that the cost of a coffin includes everything needed to make it appear as expected and ensure it is a dignified final resting place for the person who has died – this includes lining fabrics and handles. It is also statutory to provide a nameplate providing details of the person who has died.

When we look at the other part of the funeral costs, the Disbursements, these are slightly different. They vary depending on the requirements for the funeral, but should not alter regardless of which funeral director is used. Some of the most common examples of Disbursements include:

  • fees for the preparation of the grave, if the funeral is a burial. Depending on where the burial is, there may also be fees to purchase the grave itself (later there are usually further fees for the placement of a memorial, if permitted)
    • It would be very unusual, unless the person who had died was a child under 16, for there to be neither of the above fees
  • the Crematorium’s fees, if the funeral is a cremation. This would usually include the verification of the statutory paperwork, the use of the Chapel for the service, the cremation itself, and preparation of a Cremation Certificate
  • fees for someone to officiate at the service. This could be a Minister, civil celebrant or other non-religious officiant, or a Humanist. The fee varies depending upon the type of Officiant- some religious denominations do not charge for a funeral for someone from their Parish or Congregation
    • Most people choose to engage someone to officiate at the service, if they are having one. However, anyone can take a funeral service including friends or family.

Other Disbursements not present at the majority of funerals, but which we see often, would include:

  • fees for a place of Worship or other venue where there is an additional service
  • fees paid to musician(s) (organists would be the most usual example) where not included in the venue costs
  • costs for notices in newspapers to ‘announce’ the death and funeral details
  • fees relating to providing a visual tribute (photo montage) during the service, or recording it, or broadcasting it online

Other third-party costs which are not strictly Disbursements (because you can have the funeral without their existence) include flowers, legal (and/or Probate) fees and refreshments at a reception. Some funeral directors offer some or all of these services. Freeman Brothers does not have a florist or catering service but is able to offer recommendations- we request the providers are paid directly.

Giving a detailed quote which a prospective client can use for comparison purposes is therefore quite difficult without quite a lot of information about the funeral requirements.

We are often asked about our Simple Funeral when the family’s requirements are straightforward. This has some exclusions – we reserve the right to choose the day and time as well as limiting the service venues which can be used. We work with the family to find a suitable venue and service time. We typically ask for the funeral to be earlier in the day, because this is a time when we tend to have fewer other commitments, and this is therefore an easy way that we can differentiate the Simple Funeral from our Traditional Funeral without compromising the overall service we offer.

If you have further questions about funeral prices, you can see our price lists here or contact us. If you know your full requirements we can provide a detailed quote – but in any case we will always try to assist by explaining the options and providing approximate costs.

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Written by Abi Pattenden

Manager

January 29, 2020

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