There are many decisions to make when arranging a funeral. We provide a checklist of things to think about in the early stages.

Key questions to ask yourself

When you start making plans for a funeral of a loved one, it can be helpful to think through these questions to ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

  • Did the deceased make their wishes clear?
  • Did they leave any instructions about their funeral in a will, or did they discuss this with family members before their death?
  • Should you opt for a cremation or burial?
  • Is there a pre-paid funeral plan?
  • What sort of ceremony do you and other relatives or friends want, if any?
  • Do you wish to use a funeral director?
  • What will the funeral cost?
  • Who will pay for the funeral?
  • What paperwork is needed?
  • Who do you need to tell?

Knowing what your loved one wanted to happen after their death can be immensely helpful. Your loved one may have left instructions for their funeral service in their will or discussed their wishes with family members. They may have specified whether they wanted a burial (also known as interment) or a cremation. If not, this may be determined by his or her faith and cultural tradition, but cost may also be a factor.

Who will pay for the funeral?

Before making any arrangements, check if there was a pre-paid funeral plan, in which case everything should already be taken care of.

If there isn’t a pre-paid funeral plan, the cost of the funeral is usually paid for by the estate of the deceased. The bank that is holding the funds should release sufficient money in time for the funeral, but the person organising the funeral may have to temporarily cover the costs until probate comes through.

If you are using a funeral director to organise the funeral, the person who signs the papers at the funeral directors is responsible for paying for the funeral. Funerals can be costly (see our article how much does a funeral cost?) so it is important not to sign a contract (or the arrangement form) with the funeral director until you are sure that you want to use their service and you know how the funeral will be paid for.

You should also check if there was a will. A person’s wishes for their funeral are not legally binding on the next of kin, even if they’re written in the will, but it can be comforting to know that you’re following their wishes.

In some cases, there may be practical reasons why it’s not possible to fulfil all of their wishes. For example, there may not be enough money to do everything that has been requested, or the deceased may not have left space within a ceremony for a eulogy or tribute to be given, and the family may wish for it.

Related pages

The next steps for arranging a funeral are:

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