Funeral Arrangements – some ideas.
We find that funeral arrangements are often the cause of massive family rifts, and we always encourage people to make their own funeral arrangements crystal clear so that the family can’t fall out over them. And don’t think your family are immune to quarrelling over funeral arrangements – it’s an ultra stressful time, and people don’t necessarily act rationally. So be safe, and make a note of what you want and entrust it to your family executor with a written instruction to say that he knows your wishes and is to make all of the arrangements. But do choose a tactful executor! Further down the page is an 85 year olds perspective on funeral arrangements you may care to watch.
Prepaid funeral arrangements do make it easier to ignore the subtle sales pitch of the funeral director encouraging you to display your affection in financial terms with lots of “small” extras. These can add hundreds or even thousands of pounds to the cost of the funeral arrangements.
We are adding a section on funeral arrangements to our free probate guide – why not download a copy, and we’d really welcome your feedback so we can make life easier for others.
The Funeral Arrangement Checklist is below the videos.
For the future, you may want to watch the first two or three minutes of this video – it’s a US one – but if you would like more information on pre-planning funeral arrangements, click the link.
Funeral Arrangements Checklist
If the death occurs outside of a hospital or nursing home you may need to notify the local authorities of the death.
- You will need to call the funeral director and in most cases have the body taken away. Extreme care should be taken not to offend anyone by the arrangements or to deprive anyone who wishes to see the body. Please don’t let anyone force children to do this – one of my sons was deeply traumatised when his grandmother made him say goodbye to his grandfather.
- Notify relatives and friends
Inform to widely rather than miss people out.
Don’t forget those who are some distance away – if they wish to attend the funeral, they may need help with accommodation.
- Notify any relatives who will take part in planning the funeral and agree a time to meet with the funeral director to finalise the plans.
- Who will deal with the funeral expenses if there are no prepaid funeral arrangements? The executor of the estate usually handles this. The funeral director will almost certainly require someone to accept the liability. Our Guide tells you how to avoid having to pay out personally in most cases.
- Gather the information you will need for the completion of the death certificate. Many of the Registrars contact details are listed above under “Register a Death”
- The funeral director
The funeral director will take you through the much of the planning process. This checklist should help with the funeral arrangements.
- Consider embalming the body
This decision will determine the timing of many decisions you make. It is not great for the environment.
- Clothing & Jewellery – particularly important if the body is to be viewed
If this will be a traditional burial you may need to consider clothing & jewellery. (If it is to be a cremation you may not.) You may want to bring this with you when you meet with the funeral director. Jewellery – watches, earrings, necklaces, tie tacks, cuff links, or anything that the deceased particularly liked or wished to be included.
- If it is to be a burial has a plot been pre-purchased? Where are the deeds, plot numbers etc? In many areas, only country side plots and non traditional graveyards can still be purchased, and they are not cheap.
- Select the coffin: wood, veneer, metal, cardboard, eco.
- Open or closed casket – open is relatively unusual in the UK.
Decide whether it will be open or closed casket. Not all churches or crematoria will allow open caskets but your funeral director will guide you through the arrangements.
- Calling hours for viewing the body – if any. Decide on calling hours with the funeral home. Traditionally hours have been from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. as these hours can accommodate friends who have to work day or evening shifts. These do add to the cost of the funeral arrangements.
- Funeral service: when and where the service will be conducted.
- When: before or after burial or cremation.
- Where: the funeral home, Church/Temple/Mosque, at the graveside, other.
- Special Ceremonies. Some Fraternal Orders and the Military may provide special ceremonies for the funeral service. Check with the local branch of the service the deceased was enlisted in or the Fraternal Order for more information.
- Seating arrangements for the funeral service The funeral director should be aware of the relationships of people attending to seat them appropriately.
- Compose the Obituary – who will speak? Highlights, Memberships and associations, Hobbies
- Publishing an obituary. Decide on which newspapers or other publications will be used to place the obituary notice.
- Flower arrangements. Decide on the type of flower arrangements to be provided by the family. Relatives and other well wishers may also need to be advised as to your desired floral selections.
- Pictures or photo album – Consider setting up pictures or a photo album to remind well wishers and family of good times or special events in the life of the deceased. Perhaps it may be an idea where there are lots of pictures to set aside a specific section where folk can take a remembrance. The same applies if there are lots of low value trinkets – the sort that adorn a million mantel pieces. But make sure nothing is of financial or sentimental value.
- Other props: the family or funeral director may wish to setup props that reflect the interests of the deceased.
- Eulogies. Decide who will deliver the eulogy: Clergy, Friend, Relative, Combination, Video, Other.
- Consider special recognition for accomplishments of the deceased. Athletic, political, religious, scientific.
- Memorial cards (optional). Choose from funeral home offerings, have unique cards printed, print your own.
- Pall bearers. Usually 4 to 6 men are needed. Friends or relatives (usually not next of kin) or the funeral director will arrange for this service – and that is more usual.
- Music at calling hours or funeral: generic, favorite recordings of the deceased, 0ther soothing instrumentals.
- Grave site transportation: who will transport the family to the funeral. Transportation of the deceased is usually provided by the funeral director. Limousines are available but at substantial cost.
- Headstone? Will one be ordered if there is a grave? Perhaps a plaque if the ashes are to be spread.
- Wake or special gathering. Decide if there will be a wake or other gathering to celebrate the life of the deceased. Consider where and when to hold this gathering. Watch the bar bill – not everyone can resist bashing a free bar. Where, when, whom, food, drink.
- Out of town relatives – hotels, price range, friends spare beds? Transport from station or airport?
We do hope that is some help with the funeral arrangements. More suggestions are most welcome.
Funeral Flower arrangements – sorry about the advert!