PRE-FUNERAL PLANNING




  On this page

  What to do in the event of an
actual death?


  Burial or cremation?

  The funeral service

  Service in church

  Other information

  Planning for someone not yet dead

  Planning for a funeral in advance

  Burial or cremation?

  The funeral service

  Service in church

  Other information

  Different funeral services

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Prearranged & Prepaid Funeral
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  Introduction

Pre-funeral planning falls into one of two categories ... Considering what to do in the event of an actual death, and planning in advance for someone, possibly yourself, who is not yet dead.

  What to do in the event of an actual death

Funeral arrangements can be made as soon as you feel able to, following a death. Do not confirm final funeral arrangements until you are sure that the death does not have to be reported to the coroner, since this may affect the date when the funeral can be held.

Important! If the deceased left a Will, check and make sure that there are no specific instructions that relate to requests about the funeral. It is also important to check and make sure that the deceased has not already made funeral arrangements and paid for them in advance. The deceased will usually have made it known prior to death if this is the case, but it is important to check at the deceased's home just to make sure.

If there are no specific instructions it is up to you, if you are the next of kin, to make the funeral arrangements.

You will need to decide:


  • Which funeral director to use.
  • Whether the deceased is to be buried or cremated. It is up to the executor or nearest relative to decide this.

The funeral director will help you to decide the type of funeral that would be most appropriate to the deceased. The following list will help you consider some of the important considerations to be made when considering funeral arrangements:


  • Where the body will rest until the day of the funeral.
  • The starting point, time and place of the funeral.

You will also need to decide:


  • Whether there will be a funeral service of any sort. If so the funeral director will contact the relevant person for the particular faith. You can choose both the person to conduct the service and the place in which the funeral service will take place.
  • Whether you want flowers for the funeral, or donations to a named charity. If you want flowers and a cremation is planned, you can decide what should be done with the flowers after the funeral has taken place. The local hospital may be pleased to accept them, or they can be kept for a short time and put on a grave with the cremated remains if they are to be buried.
  • Will the funeral be a Burial or Cremation, and where?

  Burial or cremation?

If you decide on Burial as the most appropriate option ...


  • Is there a grave in existence?
  • If there is, do you know the Grave number and section?
  • Can you find the Grave deeds?

The funeral director will check with the Cemetery and make sure there is room in the grave for a further interment.


  • Is there a Headstone on the grave?
  • If so, do you want your inscription adding?
  • If there is no grave in existence, would you like to purchase one? In which Cemetery?

If you decide on Cremation as the most appropriate option ...


  • Do you want music played in and out of the chapel?
  • If yes, what should be played going in? What should be played going out?
  • If there is an organ in the crematorium chapel, do you want to sing a hymn?
  • After the cremation has taken place, what should happen to the cremated remains (ashes)? Should they be:

    • Placed in the Garden of Remembrance?
    • Buried in an existing family grave (see above)?
    • Buried in a new grave?
    • Scattered in a special place? If so, where?
    • Given to a relative?

  The funeral service

For some people the "traditional religious service" may not be appropriate; the deceased may not have believed in God or have had a religion, but the relatives will still want a meaningful funeral service.

Under these circumstances a Humanist service can be arranged. For a non-religious service, the funeral director will advise you or you can contact the British Humanist Association directly on 020 7430 0908. For further information www.humanism.org.uk.


  • Should a religious minister lead the funeral service?
  • Which local religious minister should be contacted, ie Catholic, Church of England, etc? Alternatively, would it be preferable for someone else to say something at the funeral, perhaps a relative or friend?

  Service in church

  • Prior to arrival at the crematorium or cemetery, would it be appropriate for a service be held in church, at home or in some other place such as a funeral director's private chapel, if they have one?
  • Will there be hymns at church, and if so, how many and what are they?
  • Do "hymn sheets" or an "order of service" need printing, or are hymn books sufficient?
  • Are there any other special requests relating to the conduct of the funeral service?

  Other information

  • Should the coffin be left open before the funeral or should it be closed?
  • What type of coffin will be required?
  • Should the deceased be dressed in any particular clothing or shroud?
  • Will there be flowers at the funeral or are donations preferable in lieu of flowers?
  • If a Charity is preferred, which one?
  • If there is a wedding ring or other item of jewellery, should it stay with the deceased or should it be returned to the next of kin?
  • Would you want an announcement in the local newspaper and/or a national newspaper?
  • If so, should the age of the deceased be mentioned or not?

The above only represents a small amount of variation to what might be termed a "standard" or "usual" funeral. In reality there is no such thing as "usual". A funeral is what you want it to be and it should reflect the manner and lifestyle of the individual concerned. This may include a so called D.I.Y. funeral or a funeral in which the family take an active part in the physical aspects of the funeral itself.

  Planning in advance for someone (possibly yourself) who is not yet dead

NB. This is not to be confused with Prepaid Funerals

"Arranging a funeral is considered the last act of ones life" and yet we leave it for someone else to do!

Most family gatherings are planned with care and a good deal of consideration is given to others who may be attending. Such a gathering may take many months or possibly years to come to fruition. When it comes to funerals we prefer not to think about them until the event, consequently we leave it for someone else to do, usually at a time when emotions are running high and those involved are least able to do it.

  Planning for a funeral in advance

It will be a help to the next of kin or executor, particularly just after death and the period following the funeral, if instructions and certain papers are kept together in a place where they can be easily found.

These instructions would, ideally include a Will (see Will Writing) and instructions about how you would want your funeral conducted. You can also explain where necessary documents can be found ie, Birth or Marriage Certificates, Grave Deeds etc.

You will need to decide:


  • Which funeral director to use. You may consider asking the funeral director to help you with pre-funeral planning and most would be happy to do so free of charge (check first).
  • Burial or Cremation? It is up to the executor or nearest relative to decide this if there is no Will.

The funeral director will help with the decision as to the type of funeral that would be most appropriate for you. The following list will help you consider some of the important considerations to be made when pre-planning funeral arrangements:


  • Where the body will await the funeral.
  • The starting point, time and place of the funeral.

You will also need to decide:


  • Whether there will be a funeral service of any sort. If so, the funeral director will contact the relevant person for the particular faith. You can choose both the person to conduct the service and the place in which the funeral service will take place.
  • Whether you want flowers for the funeral, or donations to a named charity. If you want flowers and a cremation is planned, you can decide what should be done with the flowers after the funeral. Most local hospitals are usually pleased to accept them.
  • Will the funeral be a Burial or Cremation, and where?

  Burial or cremation

If you decide on Burial as the most appropriate option ...


  • Is there a grave in existence?
  • If there is, do you know the Grave number and section?
  • Can you find the Grave deeds?

The funeral director will check with the Cemetery and make sure there is room in the grave for a further interment.


  • Is there a Headstone on the grave?
  • If so, do you want your inscription adding?
  • If there is no grave in existence, would you like to purchase one? In which Cemetery?
  • Do you want a headstone on the grave? Leave details about the type of headstone you require

If you decide on Cremation as the most appropriate option ...


  • Do you want music played in and out of the chapel?
  • If yes, what should be played going in? What should be played going out?
  • If there is an organ in the crematorium chapel, do you want a hymn to be sung?
  • After the cremation has taken place, what should happen to the cremated remains (ashes)? Should they be:

    • Placed in the Garden of Remembrance?
    • Buried in an existing family grave (see above)?
    • Buried in a new grave?
    • Scattered in a special place? If so, where?
    • Given to a relative?

  The funeral service


  • Should a religious minister lead the funeral service?
  • Which local religious minister should be contacted, ie, Catholic, Church of England etc?
  • Alternatively, would it be preferable for someone else to say something at the funeral, perhaps a relative or friend?

  Service in church


  • Prior to arrival at the crematorium or cemetery, would it be appropriate for a service be held in church, at home, or in some other place such as a funeral director's private chapel, if they have one?
  • Will there be hymns at church, and if so, how many and what are they?
  • Do "hymn sheets" or an "order of service" need printing, or are hymn books sufficient?
  • Are there any other special requests relating to the conduct of the funeral service?

  Other information


  • Should the coffin be left open before the funeral or should it be closed?
  • What type of coffin will be required? Solid Oak Casket or Cardboard Coffin?
  • Do you want to be dressed in any particular clothing or shroud?
  • Will there be flowers at the funeral or are donations preferable in lieu of flowers?
  • If a Charity is preferred, which one?
  • If you are wearing a wedding ring or other item of jewellery will it stay with you or should it be returned to the next of kin?
  • Would you want an announcement in the local newspaper and/or a national newspaper?
  • If so, should your age be mentioned or not?

The above only represents a small amount of variation to what might be termed a "standard" or "usual" funeral. In reality there is no such thing as "usual". A funeral is what you want it to be and it should reflect your own manner and lifestyle.

Sometimes when there are no instructions, the family who are left may choose the type of funeral you would disapprove of. In any event when you are in possession of information which is up to date, relevant and the personal request of the deceased it helps everyone involved and gives peace of mind to the person making arrangements prior to death.

  Different funeral services

It is important to remember that a funeral is as individual as the person considering funeral arrangements. Most people have a funeral service lead by a religious minister but you may consider this to be unnecessary or even inappropriate. You may not want a service of any description.

For other people the "traditional religious service" may not be appropriate; they may not have a belief in God or even have a religion, but the relatives will still want a meaningful funeral service. Under these circumstances a Humanist service can be arranged. For a non-religious service, the funeral director will advise you or you can contact the British Humanist Association directly on 020 7079 3580. For further information www.humanism.org.uk.

The body can be removed from the hospital, nursing home or private residence, once the necessary legal procedures are completed, such as registering the death and completing the cremation forms, as appropriate, and can then be cremated.

The choice of funeral and how it is conducted is your choice and providing that choice is expressed clearly before death occurs, it should be carried out to your specification. If you require any further advice please contact us directly.



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