Responding today to the Sun Life Cost of Dying report 2016, the National Association of Funeral Directors said it showed that people were now spending more on probate legal fees than on the services of a funeral director.

The report highlighted that on average lawyers’ charges were £2,929 for administering an estate, compared to the £2,411 paid for the support of a funeral director in caring for their loved one, arranging the funeral, taking care of paperwork, providing a hearse and paying upfront costs on behalf of families, as well as proving much needed emotional support and guidance.

Jeremy Field, President of the NAFD, which represents 4,000 funeral directors in the UK, said: “This demonstrates the value of a funeral director – not just in cost, but in the range of services they provide.”

Research earlier this year by YouGov for the NAFD and Cruse Bereavement Care revealed that 80% of those who had arranged a funeral in the past five years felt  their funeral director provided value for money, while 95% said they were satisfied with the services they received and would use a funeral director again if the need arose. Phrases used by respondents to describe the funeral directors they used included ‘professional’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive to needs’.

Mr Field said: “This report highlights that a funeral director’s charges for arranging the funeral, providing a hearse and caring for the deceased person and their loved ones accounts for only just over 25% of the overall cost of dying. While the Association is working hard with Government and other bodies to help ensure costs are transparent and affordable, we believe that this report debunks the often-repeated myth that somehow funeral directors’ costs are forever rising. It is, in fact, quite the opposite.”

He disputed Sun Life’s claim that funeral directors’ fees had risen by 5.7%, and said that did not concur with the NAFD’s own evidence that many funeral directors had frozen or lowered charges in the last year, including Co-op Funeralcare which lowered the cost of its Simple Funeral by 7% in February.

He added: “A significant amount of research, including data from YouGov, anecdotal evidence from funeral directors across the UK and research by bodies such as Quaker Social Action all point to the fact that rises in funeral costs are far lower than Sun Life claims.

“However, it is perhaps no surprise to see an insurance firm producing a report which concludes that costs are rising and therefore people should plan ahead and make financial provision for their funeral.”