Published by Joe Davine on
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How to plan a funeral for someone else

Having to arrange the funeral of a friend or relative is one of the toughest things that many of us will ever have to do. This is a task that brings a huge degree of responsibility and that you will want to carry out to the best of your ability.

Thankfully, discovering how to plan a funeral for a loved one doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might fear. Indeed, if you go about it in the right way then it can be a wonderful opportunity to carry out their final wishes in a sensitive and thoughtful way.

By approaching the task with the following things in mind, you can make sure your loved one’s funeral goes according to their wishes and that you’re financially able to afford the send off they deserve.

Understand their wishes

What kind of funeral would your friend or relative like to have? A funeral is meant to be a celebration of someone’s life, so it’s important that the celebration is appropriate for the person. If you have the chance to ask them while they are still alive then this can be a difficult but ultimately very useful conversation. Just having the conversation is enough to get somebody thinking about their preferences and help you understand what they want better.

If it is too late for this then look through your loved one’s will and any other documents they have left behind that might give an indication. You can also try asking other people who knew them well whether they had ever expressed their wishes in this respect. They may have mentioned something in passing that points you in the right direction.

If there is nothing to go on, then trust your instincts. You knew them best and are the right person to take on the responsibility of designing a day worthy of them.

Think through the details

Even if you have a good indication of their wishes, you’ll need to consider the details as to how exactly to plan the day correctly. It’s good to consider all of these aspects to make sure you’re on solid ground:

  • The type of service they would like (especially if they are strongly religious)
  • Whether they would like to be cremated or buried
  • The music to play
  • Who will be making speeches
  • The decorations or flowers
  • What type of gathering will take place afterwards
  • The casket (or urn if being cremated)
  • Where they will be buried (or have their ashes scattered)

Contact a funeral director

Once you know how you want to organise the day, you’ll need to find someone who can help make sure it’s all organised correctly. Funeral directors have a wealth of experience and can help ensure that nothing is left forgotten and all the details are taken care of.

A funeral director will help with everything: choosing the casket, arranging the burial plot/crematorium, organising the transport, helping with the reception, and all other aspects of the funeral that you have to take care of.

If you have time, it is a good idea to shop around for a funeral director that can both cater to your needs and charges affordable rates. You can request a price list from each funeral house to compare the options near you, and it’s also a good idea to ask friends or relatives for recommendations and have a read through online reviews.

Work out the finances

The process of paying for the funeral will depend on at what stage you are planning it. It’s possible you are having to plan this quickly because of an unfortunate unexpected death, or that you’re taking steps to plan the funeral of a loved one late in their life. While the average cost of a funeral is rising and was £3,784 in 2017, there are solutions to both situations.

If you’re planning a funeral for someone who has died, the first step you should take is to check if they have a funeral plan or life insurance policy in place that can help with the finances. If they don’t have such a policy in place, then check to see if they have laid aside some money in their will, or if you or any family and friends have access to sufficient savings. If you can’t find a way to afford the funeral, then you may be eligible for support from the UK government in the form of the Funeral Expenses Payment.

If you’re thinking in advance and the person whose funeral you are planning doesn’t have a life insurance policy or funeral plan in place, it might be worth setting one up. With a funeral plan, you prepay the cost of the funeral in instalments and the money goes straight to the funeral director so they can set everything up right away. With a life insurance policy, you’ll get a lump sum payout, and most companies will pay a percentage of it while a claim is assessed to help cover funeral costs.

Paying for a funeral can be daunting, but there are many avenues open to you, and just make sure you don’t lose sight of putting on a day worthy of your friend or loved one.