Funeral arrangements and costs
Funeral arrangements are usually made by the immediate family of the deceased. The deceased may have left specific instructions about the funeral service they would like and where they would like to be buried or cremated. Most people respect the deceased’s wishes where possible.
If there is disagreement about who should make the arrangements, the personal representatives of the deceased are entitled to make the decisions. The personal representatives are the executors of the will (if there is a will), or the people entitled to administer the estate if there is no will. The people entitled to administer the estate in the absence of a will are immediate family members.
You can engage an undertaker or funeral director to deal with most aspects of the funeral.
Funerals during COVID-19
If someone close to you has just died, or you know someone who has recently been bereaved, you may have concerns about planning the funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is information and support available.
After a bereavement, you should contact your preferred funeral director as soon as you can. They will deal with the burial or cremation arrangements. Your funeral director will have the most up-to-date information and know the details of procedures during the pandemic.
Read more about Death and bereavement during COVID-19.
The Irish Association of Funeral Directors is the undertaker industry's trade association. Members must follow its Code of Practice, this includes:
- Discussing and agreeing in advance (unless expressly asked not to), the funeral director's charges and payment with the next of kin
- Providing full details of costs and payment
- Providing professional and quality services in arranging and conducting the funeral
- Providing accurate advertising of prices and services
- Sensitivity, confidentiality and a commitment to leaving the customer in control of decisions
Individual funeral arrangements vary widely and depend on, among other things, where the funeral is taking place, the type of coffin (casket) you get and whether or not you hire funeral cars.
The funeral director's job may include the following:
- Discussing the deceased's and the family's wishes and ensuring that all the details are taken care of and that the whole process goes smoothly
- Provision of embalming, the coffin, the hearse, the shroud and the transport of family members
- Organisation of and payment for the grave purchase, grave opening/cremation charges, church offerings, newspaper announcements, flowers, music at the ceremony and catering
Embalming is a specialised process involving the replacement of all body fluids with a substance designed to prevent the body from deteriorating. It is not strictly necessary, especially if the removal and funeral take place relatively quickly after death. About half of all bodies are embalmed.
Burials and cremations
Burial grounds (cemeteries) in Ireland are governed and maintained by local authorities. The local authority usually appoints a registrar or caretaker for each cemetery to manage the sale of plots in that site and in some cases to maintain the burial ground.
Prices for grave plots and burials in Ireland can vary a lot, so check around for prices, if possible. Further information is available in our document on Burial Grounds.
It is possible to bury a loved one outside an official graveyard, for example, on family land. However, it is very difficult to do so. It is wise to sort this out well in advance of the death, as it may be impossible to organise it legally at short notice. You will need a visit from an Environmental Health Inspector from the local authority's health department who must determine whether the proposed burial site will pollute any water sources or drainage channels and will be located down to a depth of eight feet.
You should contact your local authority for further details.
Cremation is an alternative to burial when someone dies. You can have the deceased's body cremated, and dispose of the ashes by burying them in a family plot using facilities provided by the crematorium or disposing of them privately.
Funeral costs can vary widely depending on what you opt for and depending on whether it is a city or country funeral (rural funeral costs are generally less expensive). You may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment to help you with the cost of a funeral if your income is low. Each case is decided on its merits by the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local office. You have to complete forms SWA1 and SWA5.
Information for those recently bereaved
Information for those affected by bereavement (pdf) is our publication for people who have been recently bereaved. It provides information and advice on practical matters that arise following a death. It includes information on what to do immediately after a death, possible social welfare entitlements, tax, financial and legal issues and where to go for further information and support.
The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has a Customer Care Charter that includes a complaints procedure. The procedure involves investigating complaints, trying to find a resolution and providing a full response in writing within 30 days.