Planning a funeral

Planning a funeral may be something you never think about until you are faced with someone close passing away. When you have to plan a funeral and you have little time to think over all your options, it can be easy for your spending to build up.

It can be helpful to know the main funeral costs so that you can make informed choices so you’re not left with a huge bill. Or, you may want to plan your own funeral so that the bill is not left in the hands of someone else.

Choosing a funeral director

Choosing the right funeral director is key. Try and get a recommendation from someone you trust, or search online to make sure the funeral home is reputable. Many funeral homes are part of a professional association which means that they are bound by a code of practice, so you can expect a certain level of service.

What are the main costs involved?

The overall cost of a funeral will depend on the needs and wishes of the deceased and/or their family. A funeral director will be able to give you full details of the options available, but before approaching them, it is helpful to have an idea of what you need and what your budget is. Our guide below shows some of the main expenses that you should be prepared for, including the main third-party costs:

  • Funeral director’s fees
  • Coffin/casket
  • Embalming
  • Cost of funeral parlour or home wake
  • Funeral transportation
  • Cremation
  • Church costs – priest and musicians
  • Florist
  • Cemetery/graveyard plot
  • Cost of food and drink after the funeral
  • Memorial cards

The exact costs for all of the above will depend on the type and size of service you are planning as well as where you live. Some funeral directors display their prices and you might also get an idea of specific costs by searching online.

Other costs to think about

  • The cost of a headstone will probably not be included in the funeral costs as the funeral home generally doesn’t provide this service directly.
  • Placing a death notice in a newspaper or on the radio can add to the costs but there are now online alternatives which are cheaper or free in some cases.
  • The cost of the funeral may also depend on where and when the funeral is taking place (sometimes rural funerals are cheaper than city funerals) or the day it takes place (sometimes there are extra charges for burials on Saturdays and Bank Holidays).

What is the payment process?

It is important to be very specific about the items you want included in the service. Ask the funeral director for a written estimate of the total cost of the funeral and a breakdown of each item so that you are fully aware of the cost before you pay.

The funeral home may offer you different payment options such as a lump sum payment or an instalment plan. If you choose to pay in instalments, make sure you are aware of the amount you have to pay in instalments and any interest charged. The funeral home should also give you a timeframe for payment.

If you have difficulty paying for a funeral, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may be able to help you.

Planning your own funeral

A pre-paid funeral plan gives you the opportunity to pay for your funeral before you die and takes the financial burden away from your family. However, if you commit to a prepaid plan and decide to cancel it later, your refund may be subject to a cancellation fee. You will need to check this in the terms and conditions of your plan.

If you are planning your own funeral, make sure your family are aware of your wishes. Put your preferences in writing, give copies to family members, your solicitor and keep a copy for yourself. Don’t set out your preferences in your will, because a will may not be looked at until after a funeral.

You could also think about taking out a life insurance policy specifically to pay for funeral expenses when you die.

Managing debt after someone has died

If you’re unable to meet all your bills and debt repayments after paying for a funeral, you will need to prioritise what you pay for. If you are in, or think you are going to go into mortgage arrears, we have information on what to do. If you have credit card debt, we have information on how to start tackling it. Our debt action plan can help you prioritise your debts and outline what your next steps should be.


Last updated on 12 September 2019