Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a sociologist from Bath University and the author of the SunLife 'Cost of Dying' report has stated that funeral prices are rising on 'numerous fronts' and these are now being reflected in funeral directors' fees. The cost of salaries, premises and vehicles amount to the increase in the funeral directors costs with local authorities also charging increased fees. Local authorities are preserving land and removing the subsidies for burials whilst cremation costs are set to increase to assist them in achieving the governments 'mercury emission targets'.
A local Government Association spokesman explained that local government funding has been cut over previous years, forcing councils to examine their services more carefully. In certain areas service costs were subsidised by council tax payers but this is no longer the case. In the London area, the total outlay for all services is now on average, a whopping £10,498!
Dr Woodthorpe goes on to say that we do not have the kind of culture whereby people and families talk about death which often leads to individuals not planning properly, and that this is something we need to address.
The cost of dying not only includes the funeral directors fees and third party costs, but also often includes probate, memorial costs and floral arrangements which when combined, amounts to an average costs increase of 10% from the same time last year.
The SunLife report states that estate administration costs account for a large proportion of the price increases, jumping some 39% over the past 12 months. The report equates that more than a third of the funds spent on funerals is used for hiring a professional service to deal with the deceased's estate.
A spokesman for the Law Society stated that undertaking a solicitor may save money and time by ensuring that things are done correctly and swiftly but many people are opting to deal with these matters themselves and negate these additional fees. This can result in lengthy delays in liquidating the estate of the deceased and can often lead to complex legal problems which will eventually mean that enlisting the services of a solicitor becomes essential.
The report concludes that the increase in funeral costs since 2004 is a staggering 87%.