Checklist: All You Need to Know About Planning a Funeral


Checklist: All You Need to Know About Planning a Funeral

Death is imminent but never easy. Losing a loved one is a life-changing event that can leave us feeling sad, depressed, and hopeless. With most things in life, we cannot control it. What you can control is how you process this event. There are many outlets out there for you between therapy, self-help books, and community support. And planning a funeral doesn't have to be daunting. In such a fragile time, you don't need to add more to your plate. Follow our checklist when you seek guidance while planning a funeral cremation, or celebration of life ceremony.

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1. What Did the Deceased Want to Do?

It's important to honor the deceased and follow any instructions that they had asked for. Be it a burial or cremation, make sure your entire family understands and is informed with the proper information.

For burial:

  • Find a place of worship or funeral home

  • Make arrangements with either entity and proceed with funeral plans

  • Gather a final outfit including jewelry or other items to be buried with the deceased

  • For the funeral home, provide a recent photograph for cosmetic purposes if a viewing is scheduled

  • Have: social security number, life insurance policies, and any other necessary documents

  • Provide names & contact information for anyone involved in the funeral (pallbearers, etc)

For cremation:

  • Find a funeral home that provides cremation services

  • Document the wishes of the deceased, inform family members of said decision

  • Transport body to cremation site

  • Select a cremation urn for your loved one

  • Plan additional ceremonies be it in a church or elsewhere

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2. Call Your Preferred Place of Worship

It is important to reach out to your church, synagogue, or other place of worship immediately. They will assist you in scheduling a funeral or celebration of life. Additionally, you can coordinate with funeral homes in your area. They suggest calling a few to compare prices that work for you and your family.

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3. Set a Budget or Talk Finances with Your Family

If your loved one didn't have a plan, or money saved, it's imperative to discuss it with your family. Emotions are high and money is never an easy thing to talk about. If you would prefer to have a third party involved, many churches offer such support. Funerals can be expensive but working with your family can make this life-changing event less stressful.

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4. Locate Important Documents

Such documents include:

  • Social Security

  • Last Will and Testament

  • Power of Attorney if applicable

  • Military Records if applicable

  • Trust Documents

  • Death Certificate

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5. Know Your Rights

If you are the next of kin you are responsible for planning the funeral. If there is no next of kin, you'll have to know your rights. To qualify as next of kind, the person must be 18 years or older.

Next of kin examples:

  • Spouse or partner

  • Children (step and adopted included)

  • Parents

  • Legal guardian

  • Grandchildren

  • Great-grandchildren

  • Nieces and nephews

  • Grandparents

  • Grand-nieces and nephews

  • Aunts and uncles

  • First cousins

  • Second cousins

  • Fiduciary

  • Close friend (in some states this person could be determined as next of kin)

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6. Invite the Right People

Family members, friends, old-coworkers, and the like can be invited to a funeral. Plan who you'll invite. If there's animosity or drama with individuals, it's best they stay at home. Be respectful to those who want to help you or who want to say something at the funeral. Commonly, after funerals there is a reception at someone's home, be mindful as to how many people you are inviting to that as well.

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7. Sentiment

If you or your loved one wanted specific readings at the funeral, it's easy to coordinate. Religious institutions can help in deciding what passages to read or share. Some people may feel the need to share a story or stand up and make a speech. A family member may want to write a Eulogy. Allot time during the funeral or reception to accommodate such plans.

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8. Post-Funeral Events

If you plan on purchasing a space in the cemetery you will need to make sure of a few things.

Cemetery Plans:

  • Get a printed and itemized price list for all services before you buy anything

  • Make sure the deceased hasn't already purchased something for themselves

  • Be aware of rules and regulations at the cemetery. Some have limitations on decorations, flowers, and visiting hours

  • Make sure you understand the pricing for the ceremony and any fees that could arise down the road