A hold up at ANZ's deceased estates department is costing grieving families thousands as they struggle to pay funeral costs.

ANZ has issued an apology saying it's taking up to 30 working days to process requests due to high volumes.

Palmerston North academic Cory Matthew told Fairfax the delay meant he had to pay $8500 out of his own pocket for funeral costs to avoid a late payment fee despite the fact that ANZ were promising payment on or before the due date.

Matthew told Fairfax there would be many others in the same boat as him, and that he was lucky to have enough money to cover the cost.

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A spokesperson for the bank acknowledged to Fairfax the delays were "unacceptable", but told them they were beginning to get on top of the backlog.

The reason for high-volume in deaths is put down to New Zealand's ageing population.

Statistics NZ say a key feature of our demographic is the growing size of the elderly population and its increasing share of the total population.

Statistics NZ spokesperson James Weir told Fairfax deaths tended to spike in the September quarter of the year.