There's a lot to think about when making funeral arrangements. It’a difficult time when you’re also probably trying to come to terms with your loss. From deciding how best to honour the person’s life to paying the funeral director, this article will help you understand how to arrange a funeral, in 7 simple steps.
Making funeral arrangements – where to start
Use this short list to help you get started. It will help keep you on track, even if your mind is understandably elsewhere.
1. Check whether there’s a pre-paid funeral plan in place
A funeral plan will make your job easier, because not only are the funeral arrangements pre-agreed, they will have been paid for in advance.
All you need to do is contact the funeral director specified in the plan or the plan provider and they will guide you through the whole process. The Funeral Planning Authorities Trace Funeral Plan service may help if you think there’s a plan in place but can’t find any documentation.
2. Check whether there is a life insurance policy in place
Check the deceased's bank account statements and personal paperwork to see if there is a life insurance plan in place. Most life insurance companies pay out quickly after the funeral once all the necessary paperwork has been provided.
3. Check whether they left instructions for their funeral in their Will or with a loved one
Hopefully, the deceased made their wishes known in some way, either formally in their Will or in discussion with a relative or close friend. For example, whether they wanted a burial or cremation, or a religious or a civil ceremony.
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau points out that you are under no legal obligation to follow these instructions or wishes, although most people are going to respect them of course.
4. Ensure you have the right paperwork from the registrar
For the funeral to go ahead, you have to provide the death certificate and the green burial or cremation certificate. These were completed by the registrar when the death was registered.
For advice on registering a death, visit https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death .
5. Decide whether you want a funeral director to help you
It’s a funeral director’s role to hold your hand through the process of arranging the funeral . They also make sure everything goes smoothly, so you don’t have to worry about anything on the day. You’re under no obligation to use one, but their practical support and sensitivity can be a comfort.
When it comes to the overall cost of the funeral, the funeral director is likely to be the largest single outlay, so we recommend contacting two or three to compare their services and costs.
Instructing a funeral director registered with the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) or the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) is a good way to ensure a professional and reliable service.
6. Plan the funeral service
First you will need to decide whether there will be a service, and if so, the type of funeral service you’d like. Your funeral director can help you with this decision. There are a number of different elements that make up a service. This Which? guide to the funeral service sets out everything clearly.
7. Let people know about the funeral
Let friends and family know the details of the funeral. This doesn’t have to be a formal affair. You could call or email them and ask them to spread the word for you. You may also want to put a notice in the paper or on social media to make the wider community aware.
Making plans for your own funeral
Having to arrange a loved one’s funeral can prompt thoughts about who will be left to arrange yours. Putting a plan in place for your own funeral now will give you comfort of knowing your wishes will be followed and remove the emotional and financial worry from your family.
With a pre-paid funeral plan, your funeral arrangements are set out and agreed, and paid for in advance. The money you pay is guarded safely and securely in either an independent trust fund or a whole of life insurance policy which pays out the agreed sum at the time of death.
With the average funeral costs rising much faster than the cost of living, prepaying for your funeral is likely to be a sound way of avoiding price increases in the future.