One in eight UK families pushed into funeral poverty

The total cost of dying typically soars above £10,000, according to funeral provider Farewill. Photo: Getty
The total cost of dying typically soars above £10,000, according to funeral provider Farewill. Photo: Getty

The high costs associated with funerals, probate and wills are currently forcing one in eight families in the UK into funeral poverty.

According to data from will writer and funeral provider Farewill, the total cost of dying typically soars above £10,000 ($12,500), with the average UK cremation costing £3,250 and will writing costing an average of £180.

Meanwhile, it typically costs more than £800, plus up to 5% of an estate’s value, to get the grant of probate.

The issues around the cost of dying and complex processes surrounding death have been thrown into sharp relief in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 94% of people who have lost a loved one to coronavirus found administrative tasks negatively affected by the crisis, says Farewill.

Some 40% found it difficult to register the event due to lockdown restrictions, and 39% said that dealing with pensions, tax and probate was almost impossible.

READ MORE: Top tips on making a will and protecting yourself

Almost a third (27%) reported that the companies they needed to speak to were closed, and 24% were told services were “on hold.”

Farewill announced on Wednesday that it has raised £20m in its latest funding round to enable the company to continue its goal of “transforming the UK’s over-priced death industry using technology and design.”

This latest round of funding was led by growth-stage experts Highland Europe, alongside Keen Ventures, Rich Pierson of Headspace, Broadhaven Ventures, and Venture Founders.

They join previous investors — including Augmentum Fintech, Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise) and Kindred Capital. It takes the total raised so far to £30m.

Farewill said the investment will be used to fund expansion in the UK, as well as ongoing service improvement and product innovation.

The company’s goal is to make the often-taboo topic of death easier for people to manage, and cut the costs associated with dying.

Using an online platform, Farewill helps people to write a will in just 15 minutes.

The platform also checks the will within an average of 24 hours, compared to weeks with a traditional solicitor, and it can cost as little as £90, half the national average.

To obtain the grant of probate, Farewill charges a fixed fee starting at £595. An application takes seven days, compared to the UK average of three weeks. To help tackle the problem of funeral poverty the firm also provide cremations from £980.

READ MORE: The six ways a will can be challenged

“Dealing with death is one of the hardest parts of life, and we started Farewill to take some of the pain out of the process,” said Farewill chief executive Dan Garrett.

“The latest investment from Highland Europe shows their conviction in our vision for fairer, more transparent services in this space. It means we can build on what we’ve started, growing our world-class team and designing easy-to-use tools that help people during incredibly tough times.”

“How about entirely removing the administrative pain for those grieving for their loved ones? How about providing an affordable, effortless and considerate service? That’s what the Farewill team is doing — with an extraordinary blend of compassion and tech-fueled efficiency.

“For too long, the wills and funeral industry has been largely geared towards profit over purpose,” said Stan Laurent, a partner at Highland Europe.

“Since our first meeting with Dan, we knew that Farewill had the ingredients to radically disrupt the industry. We’re excited to back them as they broaden their ambition,” he said.

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