Funeral Plan Checklist
Planning a funeral is very emotional. When a loved one passes away, those they left behind are forced to make numerous decisions about the services in the midst of grieving. Whether you’re pre-planning your own funeral or memorial service, or you’re planning a funeral for a loved one who has passed away, this funeral plan checklist will help you ensure every box is ticked to serve as a pillar of support during a difficult time.
Notify the Correct Authorities
First on the funeral plan checklist is notifying the correct authorities. If the death in question has occurred outside of a hospital or nursing or convalescent home, you may be required to notify authorities about the death. You can simply call 911 to report the death, and the responder will notify the coroner. While it’s not always necessary to call the coroner, it may be beneficial to do so in case the individual had important insurance policies in place that could come into play.
Let Friends and Family Know
While police will generally notify next of kin, you may need to notify numerous other loved ones of the individual’s passing, especially if they must travel a long distance in order to attend the services. Beyond family members, be sure to keep your loved one’s friends in mind.
You’ll want to call anyone who will have a role in planning the funeral. Be sure to coordinate your schedules to ensure you can all find a time to meet with the funeral director and put the necessary plans in place.
Discuss Funeral Expenses
Funeral Expenses can be costly if you are paying out of pocket. Before making decisions regarding the services, burial, or cremation, you’ll need to first broach the topic of finances. If your loved one didn’t have some sort of Funeral Insurance or life insurance policy, you’ll need to find other ways to handle the funeral expenses.
It’s important to choose a person that will be responsible for handing the costs of the funeral, at least as far as billing purposes go, regardless of where the funds will come from. If there’s an executor of the estate for the person who has passed away, they’ll generally take responsibility. Ultimately, it’s up to the family to determine who handles these expenses.
Be sure to speak with the executor of the estate about last wills and testaments, as these will often contain important information about the deceased’s final wishes. If you are pre-planning your own funeral and don’t have an up-to-date will, it’s time to draft one.
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This is one of the most important tasks on the funeral plan checklist. Once you’re at the funeral home planning the services, you’ll be tasked with completing the death certificate. Be sure to get organized and gather all information required to fill out this form. This includes the deceased’s social security number, birthdate, parents’ names, employment address, and occupation. If they were in the services, you’ll need their armed forces serial number.
Only half of those over age 65 have an up-to-date will, so it’s important to consider your estate planning now. It can cover a variety of aspects, including determining the executor of your will, any trusts you have, taxes and succession, and charitable donations, among other things.
Choose a Funeral Director
Because the funeral director will take you through the bulk of the planning process, it’s important to choose the right individual. They’ll handle caring for the body, purchasing the casket or urn, hosting the viewing, and taking care of the legal requirements. Price plays a large role in determining which funeral director is best, so it’s important to ask for itemized price lists of the funeral home’s offerings. Consider your initial interaction with the funeral director, and think of it as an interview of sorts. You’ll want someone experienced but sympathetic; take referrals from friends and family that have been through the process before, it will make all the difference.
Decisions About the Funeral
There are numerous decisions about the funeral you’ll need to make, and the first comes in choosing between cremation and burial, which is normally decided by the deceased before their passing. However, if they never expressed a preference between cremation and burial, there are a few factors to consider. Burials are much costlier than cremations, and many who prefer cremation cite its ability to save land space. Religion can play a role in the choice, as well. Regardless, it is a personal decision that should take your deceased loved one’s wishes into consideration.
Steps for Cremation
Cremation has become increasingly popular in recent years, and is projected to make up 50 percent of funeral services in the next few years. If choosing to cremate your loved one, you’ll encounter the following steps.
Steps for Burial
Burials continue to be the most popular traditional funeral option. They require more steps than cremation, the most important of which are as follows.
Hosting a Funeral Service
If you plan to have a funeral service for your love one, there are questions to be answered regarding when and where you’ll host it:
-Will you host the service before or after the burial/cremation?
-Where will you host the service? Funeral home, church, temple, mosque, or graveside?
-Was the deceased in a Fraternal Order, the military, or another special association? If so, there may be special ceremonies provided for the service. Check in with a local branch of the particular service your loved one was enlisted in, or check in with his or her Fraternal Order or association.
Writing an Obituary
It’s important to write an obituary for the deceased; they provide a short synopsis of your loved ones’ life and announce a death to the community, but also serve as a celebration of life. The obituary may be as succinct or lengthy as your local newspaper or internet outlet allows, but you’ll need the following to write the basics:
-Memberships or Associations
Floral arrangements are a traditional component of funeral services, and you may need to determine the type the family wishes to provide. Relatives and friends may also need advice on your desired floral options, which include:
-Specialty Shapes (Crosses, hearts, etc.)
The deceased may have also left wishes that donations to a special cause be left in lieu of flowers. If this is the case, be sure to inform family and friends well in advance of the funeral, as well as provide them with appropriate information on where they can send their donations.
Eulogies are a traditional part of the funeral services. You must decide who will deliver the eulogy. Some elect to have a clergy member deliver it, while others choose a family member or friend. Some families prefer to prepare the eulogy in video or audio form beforehand. Consider your options with your loved ones.
If your family member requested certain songs or music types played during the services, you may need to provide these to the funeral home. You can also choose generic music provided by the funeral home itself if the deceased and their loved ones didn’t specify a preference.
While the funeral home generally handles transportation of the body, you may need to consider transportation options for the family and other close loved ones. You may elect to rent a funeral home limo for the procession.
Purchasing a Headstone or Grave Marker
If your loved one had previously purchased a grave stone, you’ll need to have it engraved. If they didn’t, you’ll be tasked with choosing a gravestone or marker in addition to the engraving. Some cemeteries have strict rules regarding the type of marker so be sure to check in with your chosen cemetery on any regulations or restrictions.
Hosting a Wake
Some choose to host a wake or special gathering to help celebrate the deceased’s life. You’ll need to decide when and where this will be hosted, and determine whether catering is necessary.
Accommodations for Visiting Relatives
It’s likely you’ll have relatives coming from out of town to attend the services, and you may need to consider how to accommodate them. This may include:
-Picking them up from the airport
-Booking their lodging in a local hotel
-Assisting with travel bookings, including flights or train tickets
Planning a funeral is a daunting task during times of grief. Use this check list as funeral guide to simplify the process and ensure your loved one has the funeral service they deserve.