Funeral planning

Death is rarely a pleasant subject, but it can be reassuring to know that your loved ones won't have to worry about organising everything on your behalf. Make a funeral plan in advance and you can do it your way. We look at what the main considerations are when planning a funeral. 

Does a funeral plan have to be detailed?

Not at all, but the more details you put in, the easier things may be.

What about paying for things – what should I do?

Funeral plans are lump sum or monthly payments to a company that will then organise much of your actual funeral, when it’s necessary. By paying in advance that way, it’s possible to secure arrangements without creating financial burdens for your family. Plus of course, you can stipulate in advance what type of funeral arrangements you’d like.

Is there such a thing as a checklist for planning a funeral?

If you look into funeral plans with companies such as Dignity, AgeUK or the Co-Operative Funeral Care – then you’ll find there are many different checklists you could use. 'Which?' offers a comprehensive funeral plan comparison looking at almost two dozen offers.
Below is our guide to some of the things you should think about when planning a funeral. It’s worth spending as much time as possible to really think through the questions and answers as best you can before making any decisions:

The event

  • Would you or your loved one like a funeral service, a burial or a cremation?
  • Should any of those events be religious?
  • Would you or your loved one rather they weren’t religious in nature – perhaps humanist, instead?
  • Is there somewhere specific you or your loved one would like to be buried, or have your ashes scattered?
  • What about donating your body to medical science?
  • Will you or has your loved one consented to your organs being used after death?
  • What kind of urn, casket, coffin or headstone would you or your loved one prefer?

The people

  • Who would you or your loved one like to be at the funeral? What about children?
  • Are there prayers, poems, hymns, readings or songs to be used?
  • Is there a specific obituary or eulogy that needs to be read out?
  • How do you feel about floral tributes being brought by mourners?
  • Is there a cause or charity you’d like to benefit from donations instead?

The arrangements

  • Apart from a funeral payment plan, are there other finances you could take care of?
  • Is your life insurance up to date and adequate for your beneficiaries’ needs?
  • Have you done any estate planning? Made arrangements to cater for Inheritance Tax?
  • If your health deteriorates, have you made a lasting power of attorney?
  • If you are relatively young, who would you like to look after your children?

Is there anything else I should do?

Perhaps one of the kindest things we can all do is to talk about our wishes with close family members in advance. That way your preferences won’t come as a shock to them (it can happen). You, and they, can be reassured that your wishes will be followed.

Make a list, write it down – in fact AgeUK offers a free Lifebook in which you can make your wishes known.

If you are having to plan someone else’s funeral, it might also be helpful to take a look at this short film: