A simple guide to direct cremations

- 20/08/21

While traditional funerals are still the right choice for some, more and more people nowadays want their funeral arrangements to reflect the lives they’ve led. Many funerals are now much simpler affairs. They’re either a quiet celebration of life, an environmentally friendly service or what’s known as a ‘no-frills’ direct cremation.

In this informative guide, we’ll look into what a direct cremation is and why they’re becoming an increasingly popular choice. We’ll also provide you with all the information on costs and considerations you need. That way, you can decide whether a direct cremation could be right for you.

What's a direct cremation?

A direct cremation separates the cremation from the celebration of life or memorial service. There are no processions, viewing of the deceased and the ashes are either scattered by the crematoria staff or returned to the family. It offers an affordable and fuss-free option for those not wanting a traditional service.

While there is no formal service arranged by a funeral director, a direct cremation still provides a dignified opportunity to say goodbye to your loved one. You have the freedom to organise a service that honours them as an individual. The ability to personalise the service and celebrate the deceased’s life in a unique way can provide comfort.


The average cost of a traditional funeral in the UK 1

You also don’t have to worry about the costs, formality and stress that comes with arranging a traditional funeral. With this no-frills approach, families save money by avoiding many traditional funeral experiences. These savings can be spent remembering their loved one in a way that makes everyone feel more comfortable.

If you feel a direct cremation may be right for your or a loved one, you can book one with a funeral director. However, many are booked directly with a crematorium or organised through a direct cremation funeral plan provider .


The cost of a direct cremation with Distinct Cremations

Your options for a direct cremation

Direct cremations are typically unattended. A memorial service or celebration of life can then be arranged after. However, there are attended direct cremation services for those who prefer this option.

Unattended direct cremations

With a direct cremation, the deceased is collected from the home, hospital or care home. They are then taken to the mortuary. The deceased is cremated in a simple coffin, with no mourners present. The ashes are gathered into a simple urn. These can then be scattered in the crematorium grounds or handed back to the family.

From beginning to end, a direct cremation is carried out with all the dignity of a more traditional send-off. Members of crematorium staff are present on the day to pay their respects.

The cremation will take place at a time and place determined by the crematorium operator. They will notify the family once it has taken place. Family and friends are then able to remember and celebrate their loved one in whatever manner they think best.

Attended direct cremations

You can still choose to have a direct cremation but opt to have a number of people present. Some families choose a brief, intimate gathering of up to 15 family or friends. They can take a few minutes to remember their loved one, play a piece of music and perhaps say a few words.

Others choose not to limit the number of attendees and include a longer service. They can organise this themselves and can include a few more readings and pieces of music.

With Distinct Cremations, a personal advisor will always be available to offer advice on the service. A chapel attendant will also be present on the day to ensure everything runs smoothly.

In both cases, the family will be able to express a preference for the location of the cremation. Whilst attended cremations cost slightly more than an unattended one, the costs are still considerably less than a traditional funeral overseen by a funeral director.

How much is a direct cremation

The exact cost of a direct cremation will vary depending on several factors. This includes whether the service is attended or not and the requests for the return of the ashes. Other fees relating to the cremation process, such as whether a larger coffin is required, can also affect the overall cost. You can discuss your requirements with the crematorium or funeral plan provider.

The cost of a direct cremation with Distinct Cremations is £1,475. This is considerably more affordable than the average £4,184 cost of a traditional funeral in the UK.

Paying for a direct cremation

You can choose to pay for a direct cremation either in advance through a pre-paid funeral plan or at the time you need one. Most plans offer the option of paying in one lump sum or in monthly installments. These are guaranteed to cover the costs listed in the plan.

These plans are also protected against future cost rises and the funds are exempt from inheritance tax. That means your family won’t have to worry about paying bills.

A pre-paid plan can cover your own funeral or someone else’s. Exactly what is covered will vary depending on the plan chosen. You should check what is included before taking out a plan. With Distinct Cremations, you can also upgrade your plan at any time you wish. You can apply for a funeral plan as long as you’re over 18. There are no medical questions or health checks.

How to arrange a direct cremation

As a direct cremation is a much simpler affair than a traditional funeral service, there is less to organise. Many of the funeral director fees, such as transport for the family and floral arrangements, are not necessary. Instead, you will simply need to organise the cremation. You’re then free to plan a memorial service or informal celebration of life after.

While there are fewer expenses and funeral arrangements with a direct cremation, organising it yourself can still be a challenge. Each element will still need to be arranged at what will be a difficult time. These include getting the necessary paperwork, contacting the crematorium, buying the coffin and booking transport.

Many people find it easier to use a direct cremation provider, like Distinct Cremations. These providers can take care of all the hassle and help with paperwork. That allows you to focus on remembering your loved one in the way you want.

At Distinct Cremations, our simple direct cremation plans cover help with paperwork and various costs. These include collection and care of the deceased, doctor and cremation fees, a simple coffin and urn. You will also receive a notification when the ceremony has taken place. You can request to have the ashes scattered in the crematorium grounds or have them returned to you.

We also provide the option for an attended direct cremation. The cost of this plan includes the above, along with allowance for a number of attendees at a suitable crematorium location at a date that works for you.

You’re free to arrange a direct cremation service yourself directly with the crematorium or through a funeral director. Our guide to arranging a funeral provides useful information.

Choosing a direct cremation plan

If you decide a direct cremation plan is the best choice, you’ll need to ensure the plan covers everything you need. You should choose which type of service you would like, and make any additional wishes and requests known. You should also notify family that you have taken out the plan.

Knowing a cremation is paid for can relieve stress on your loved ones at a difficult time. They won’t have to pay fees or make arrangements. The funds paid into your direct cremation plan will be secured in an independently managed trust fund. It will also be protected against future rises in funeral costs and be exempt from inheritance tax.

When you take a plan out with Distinct Cremations, you will have a 30-day cooling off period. You can cancel during this period and get a full refund with no cancellation fees. You’re also free to upgrade your plan at any point.

What Happens When the Direct Cremation Plan Holder Dies?

One of the main reasons people choose a direct cremation plan is because everything will be taken care of when you or your loved one passes. Once a doctor issues the death certificate, your chosen direct cremation provider will collect the deceased from the hospital, care home or home.

Providers like Distinct Cremations are available by phone 24/7. They can help organise the collection and ensure all the arrangements in the plan run smoothly. This includes helping to take care of the legal paperwork. If an attended direct cremation has been chosen, you only have to agree a date with the cremation company.

Once the cremation has taken place, the provider will contact the family to let them know. They will also arrange delivery of the urn if requested. Distinct Cremations do this by hand within 14 days of the cremation. Otherwise, the ashes will be scattered in the crematorium grounds.

If you’re unsure whether your loved one had a funeral plan or cannot find the documentation, the Funeral Planning Authority can help. Their Trace Your Plan online form will check if any of their registered providers have a plan with the deceased.

The benefits of a direct cremation

There are multiple reasons why someone may prefer a direct cremation, either for themselves or a loved one. Here are some of the benefits of a direct cremation:

1. They’re fuss-free compared to traditional services

Many people prefer a simple, fuss-free celebration of life. The ceremony of limousines, hearses and flowers seem unnecessary to some. They would prefer their loved ones didn’t have the added stress of organising them all.

2. You can hold your own celebration

With a direct cremation, you have the freedom to hold a celebration of life in a way that suits you and your loved one. This might involve the scattering of the ashes. You can also choose a date and time that suits family and friends. This can be especially important if anyone who live overseas wishes to attend.

3. It can help create memories

A typical celebration might involve a meal in a restaurant or a pub. It could be a traditional tea party or a picnic near a loved one’s favourite place. These types of event can create more positive memories compared to more sombre, traditional services. You can share stories of the deceased and celebrate them in a more personalised way.

4. It costs a lot less than a funeral A direct cremation is less costly than a traditional funeral. Quite often, the deceased has expressed a wish for the money saved to be spent on a celebration of life or as a gift to family members.


Of UK funerals were direct cremations in 20201

5. There’s no religious ceremony With a direct cremation, there’s no religious ceremony. However, if the deceased were religious, this can be arranged separately at a later date and at a different location, if required.


  1. SunLife, 2021
Distinct Cremations is a trading name of Distinct Cremations Limited I Registered in England, No. 13366310 and Distinct Funeral Plans Limited [Prepaid Funeral plan provider] I Registered in England, No. 13366327 | Registered Office Westerleigh Crematorium, Westerleigh Road, Bristol BS37 8QP | Part of the Westerleigh Group |