Arranging a funeral can be daunting at a time when you’re feeling vulnerable.
It may be that you’ve overlooked possible sources of funding to help towards the costs, and that may include money from the estate of the person who has died.
Carefully look through the deceased’s paperwork to try and identify all the different accounts they may have had and to see if anything suggests they had any insurance policies or private pensions (not the state pension).
Did you know?
- The first priority for any money left by the deceased person is to help pay towards the cost of their funeral. This comes before any rent, utilities etc. If, after this, there is insufficient money or assets in the estate to pay off any debts, then they would be paid in priority order until the money or assets run out. Any remaining debts are likely to be written off. Find more advice here: Dealing with the debts of someone who has died
- In order to release money from a bank account, you can take a copy of the death certificate and a copy of the funeral bill to the bank. Many banks will release the money directly to the funeral director (if you are using one).
- You don’t need to wait for probate or the will (if there is one) to be read.
- Is there any money in any of the deceased person's bank/building society/PO/credit union accounts?
- Is there an insurance policy (life or funeral) or a pre-paid funeral plan?
- Is there a private pension? This could be a work-related pension (set up by an employer) or a personal pension (set up by themselves). Besides any letters or statements, payslips can also be helpful as they will show whether the employer paid any money into a pension. If you don’t find anything, but think they may have had one, you can find pension scheme contact details by searching for the name of an employer on the gov.uk website.
- If they were employed at the time of death they may have been eligible for a ‘death in service benefit’ from their employer.
- Is a tax refund due? The person who has died is entitled to a full personal allowance in the tax year of their death regardless of when they die. If they had already paid some tax then a refund may be due - contact HMRC to find out. The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group’s tax at bereavement factsheet also has useful information about tax when someone has died.
Tip - letting people know
Charles took responsibility for arranging his cousin's funeral but was not eligible for any state benefits.
However, when sorting through paperwork, details of two insurance policies were found. A Down to Earth advisor contacted the insurance provider and helped Charles complete the necessary paperwork. On New Year’s Eve he received a cheque from the insurance company with sufficient funds to pay for the service he wanted.