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The “cost of dying” is more than 10% higher than it was this time last year, according to a report.

The average cost of services including probate, headstones, flowers and the burial or cremation fee is now £8,427, according to insurer SunLife.

The average cost of a funeral has increased by 87% since the survey was first conducted in 2004.

SunLife described a 39% jump in estate administration fees as a “significant” factor in this year’s increase.

The figures are set out in SunLife Direct’s annual Cost of Dying report, which said that hiring a professional such as a solicitor now accounts for more than a third of expenditure associated with a person’s death.

The report found that saving money was a key motivation for the increased number of people who choose to manage their loved ones’ affairs without professional help.

‘Complex process’

Responding to the survey’s findings, a Law Society spokesperson said that enlisting a solicitor “may save time and money in the future by ensuring things are done right the first time”.

Another factor influencing how much people spent was the type of funeral, since cremation tends to be less expensive than burial.

The average burial cost is now £3,982, a rise of 2% since last year and 89% since the survey began in 2004.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a sociologist from the University of Bath and author of the SunLife report, said the costs of funerals were rising “on numerous fronts”.

Funeral directors’ fees reflect the costs of “staff salaries, the expense of running a business, but also the costs recovered by local authorities”, she explained.

“Local authorities are trying to preserve land by removing subsidies for burial, and in the case of cremation trying to recover the costs of meeting mercury emissions targets,” she said.

‘Funding slashed’

A spokesman for the Local Government Association responded that local government funding had been “slashed” over the past three years which meant “councils have been forced to examine all their services carefully”.

“Where services have been subsidised by council tax payers previously, as has been the case with some cemeteries and crematoriums, councils have had no choice but to review the fees they charge,” the spokesman said.

Cost also varied widely across different regions. The average funeral cost in the London area was £10,498, compared with £5,893 in Northern Ireland.

The cost of a funeral will not always be met by families.

When a person dies without relatives or the relatives are unable to pay, local councils or the NHS can provide a public health funeral.

Dr Woodthorpe argued that “we don’t have a culture of talking about death, which means we often don’t plan properly, and we need to address that”.