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Pay for a funeral

Paying for a funeral

Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death)
  • local authority burial or cremation fees

Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quote.

A funeral can be paid by:

  • from a financial scheme (pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy) the deceased had
  • by you or other family members or friends
  • with money from the person's estate (grant of representation or probate)

You may be able to get help from:

  • a private or personal pension scheme the deceased had that pays a lump sum to help with funeral costs
  • a trade union, professional body or a provident club which pays a benefit when a member dies
  • a life insurance policy taken out by the deceased which pays a lump sum if someone dies before a certain age
  • a funeral payment if you're on low income
  • government support available on GOV.UK

Money advice service

Advice from the Money advice service, which lists alternative options for paying for a funeral.

Down to Earth

Down to Earth is a charitable organisation that can offer advice and assistance to those having difficulty arranging or paying for a funeral.

Child funeral charity

Child funeral charity assists families financially in England and Wales who have to arrange a funeral for a baby or child aged 16 or under.


Turn2Us provides a range of financial support, including that related to bereavement.

Public health funerals

We are responsible for burying or cremating someone if:

  • no other arrangements are being made
  • the person died within Plymouth City Council's area

The responsibility is placed on us by Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. We are unable to become involved if the funeral is already booked or has taken place. Anyone giving instruction to a firm of funeral directors, for example for collection of the body, handles any costs incurred.

For more information email or phone 01752 304147.


Any estate (usually money or property) that the deceased has must first be used to pay for the funeral. There are exceptions such as secured debts, mortgages or secured loans. Any money left by the person who died should not be used to pay off any other bills.

We have a right, where possible, to recover all the costs incurred in making the funeral arrangements from the deceased’s estate. This includes:

  • accessing bank accounts,
  • savings
  • investments
  • selling belongings
  • placing a charge against property owned

To do this we may need to enter the deceased’s property, to identify any estate and remove items or assets. While we appreciate it is difficult, we ask that family and friends don’t remove any items themselves. Any shortfall in the costs will be borne by us and where there is no estate, no costs will be claimed back.

Locating next of kin

The council will try to locate living relatives or friends of the deceased and pass the responsibility for the funeral on to them.

When no information about the deceased is available, the local authority may need to enter the deceased’s property or residence to carry out a property search and will liaise with the property owner/landlord.

Executors of a will

Where the deceased left a will and the executor is traced then the executor would be expected to take on arrangements for the funeral.

Important points about public health funerals

  • By opting for a public health funeral, the next of kin relinquishes any responsibility for, and therefore control of, the funeral to the local authority.
  • The public health funeral will be arranged by the local authority and conducted in line with best practice guidelines
  • The local authority has a legal right to recover, from the estate of the deceased person, the expenses incurred (or however much is available toward them) in the provision of a public health funeral.

Standard practice for public health funerals


Cases may be referred from the coroner’s office, hospices, social services, housing offices, care homes, private landlords and other people.

The steps taken will then vary depending on the referral route and specifics of the case.


Once the council has accepted a case, we will deal with all aspects of the organisation of a funeral, including registering the death, dealing with the funeral directors to make the arrangements, and paying for the funeral.

The council’s contracted funeral directors will provide everything necessary for a simple but dignified funeral, including a coffin and transport of the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery.

A cremation service will normally be held, unless it is established that the deceased did not want cremation.

The Council offer an unattended funeral only with no service but the cremation or burial is carried out with dignity and respect.

What happens at an unattended cremation

The 'service' normally takes about 15 minutes. The coffin is carried into the Chapel, placed on the catafalque, and then received by the crematory team for cremation.

Soft music is played for the committal of the deceased at the discretion of the crematorium. 

What happens at an unattended burial

If a burial is decided upon the burial will take place in an unmarked shared public grave at one of the cemetery sites within Plymouth.

Shared graves normally have up to three interments.

A celebration of life or wake

If there is an arranged public funeral you may wish to have a funeral service to be able to say your own final goodbye, you may wish to hold a celebration of life event at a local venue of your choosing.

Death in hospital

University Hospitals Plymouth Trust has its own procedure for deaths occurring within the hospital.

List of public health funerals

Where to find the date and place of birth of the deceased

This information can be found on the death certificate of the deceased. Certificates can be obtained from Plymouth Register Office.

Value of the deceased's estate

This information is not published by the Treasury Solicitor and is not published by us under Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Those individuals who believe they are entitled relatives can make a claim on the estate or find out more information on the GOV.UK website.