When planning a funeral, it's important to consider what you need during each part of the planning process, including before the funeral, during the funeral service and after the funeral. Knowing how to plan a funeral doesn’t always come easy, but this funeral planning checklist will help make sure you’re asking the right questions, and everything is covered.
Planning before the funeral
When a loved one passes away, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed with planning their funeral. However, before you get started, you can ask a few questions that will help point you in the right direction and ensure you don’t miss anything.
- Burial or cremation? First of all you need to confirm whether the deceased wanted a burial or cremation. This decision will affect the rest of your choices about the funeral, including what to do with the remains.
- Will the service be religious? If the deceased was religious or wanted a religious ceremony, you may need to follow specific guidelines, depending on the religion. For example, a Jewish funeral must happen within 24 hours of the death.
- Is there a burial plot in the deceased’s name? If the deceased wanted a burial, they might already own a burial plot. Check with everyone who might be privy to this information, such as family, friends, caretakers, or priests.
- Where do you want to have the funeral service? The funeral service location will depend on the type of funeral. A few common locations include a funeral home, place of worship, crematorium chapel and public space.
Funeral service items
Before planning the funeral, you should consider any specific funeral items you’ll need for the burial, service and afterwards. Typically, the funeral director will help arrange these items, but some might fall on the responsibility of the family or executor.
Here are some common funeral items:
- Purchasing a coffin or urn
- Headstone and the epitaph
- Transportation for the family
- The obituary and order of service
- Charity for donations instead of funeral flowers
- Catering, musicians and location
Planning for during the funeral
When it comes to planning a funeral service, there are many options to reflect the character and values of the deceased. If the person hasn’t outlined any specific wishes, here are a few questions to ask when planning a funeral service.
1. Type of funeral service
Will there be a viewing, visitation or wake? Making this decision is usually related to the type of funeral service and should take into consideration the deceased's values.
What type of funeral service? There are many types of funeral services. These include:
Single: Takes place at one location without going to the cemetery or crematorium.
Dual: Starts at one location and then goes to the cemetery or crematorium afterwards.
Graveside: Everything takes place at the graveside.
No service: Also known as a direct committal or direct cremation and doesn’t involve any service or visitation.
Memorial: Also known as a celebration of life service and takes place after the body is buried or cremated.
2. Details of the funeral service
- Who will officiate the ceremony? People who commonly officiate the ceremony include a celebrant, a priest, clergy, minister or funeral director.
- Does the service require pallbearers? Who can fill this role?
- Who will deliver eulogies? How many will there be?
- Will there be prayer, poem or other readings?
- Who will deliver these?Will there be any music or hymns?
- Will there be a picture slideshow?
Planning for after the funeral
If you’re arranging the funeral for a loved one as the executor of their estate, then after the funeral, you’ll need to manage, distribute and close the estate. Receiving a grant of probate usually takes time and will likely not happen until after the funeral finishes. It’s not until you receive a grant of probate that you can distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
Other things to consider after the funeral include:
- Who will collect the ashes?
- Will you do anything special with the ashes?
- What will you do with the funeral flowers?
Planning a funeral for a loved one is never an easy task. With the help of this funeral planning checklist, you ensure that important details don’t fall through the cracks. Planning a funeral is also an opportunity to reflect on what you would want at your own funeral. The best way to make your wishes known and ease the burden on your loved ones is to preplan your funeral.