Funeral Planning Checklist

| End-of-Life Resources

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Planning a funeral or memorial services involves many factors. You need to cover all your bases to make certain that every aspect ranging from legalities to directives are discussed in detail.

Every funeral or memorial service involves the preparation stage. You need to lay the foundation to make certain important people are involved, covered and know what to do. Print up the funeral planning checklist below to make things easier.



Specify Your Wishes

Everyone has desires as to how their funeral or memorial services should be. It is important to remember that your wishes are not legally binding unless they are in writing. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make a list of all the important people in your life. List them from most important to mentionable. Open up your mind and think about everyone who plays a role in your life.
  • Make a list of your wishes. Do not concern yourself with assigning tasks to anyone at this time. Realize that satisfying your wishes is part of the grieving process.

Here is a list of items to consider:

  •  Do you want to be cremated or have a funeral service?
  •  Do you want a burial plot in a particular cemetery?
  •  If cremated, where do you want your ashes to end up? Is it a particular ceremony or location?
  •  Do you want an elaborate life celebration or a quiet, intimate affair?
  •  Think about your eulogy and obituary. Is there anything pertinent you want  mentioned?
  •  How many bearers do you want?
  •  Do you want a viewing?
  •  Can anyone attend your viewing? Who is off limits?
  •  Do you want a religious ceremony?
  •  What kind of funeral do you want? Specify details.
  •  Specify your budget. This prevents overspending during all phases.
  •  Do you want to donate your body to science?
  •  Do you have any unsaid words you would like to say?
  •  Where do you want your flowers to go after the ceremony?


Break Your Wishes Into Specific Tasks

  • Look over your list of wishes.
  • Think about which person best suits the needs.
  • Write that person’s name next to the task. For instance, assign the writer in your list the task of writing your obituary.
  • If you want a religious ceremony, choose a ministry professional to oversee.


Assign Someone as Your Executor

This person is usually the one emotionally closest to you. They will ultimately be responsible for setting your estate. Is it your husband, wife or other close family member? Is it the retirement community’s social service representative? Put it in writing on your wish list.

  • Understand that many government entities will not give power to your partner if you are in a same-sex relationship. You will need to do this yourself by assigning the responsibility to your partner in writing.
  • Update and amend your wish list as needed. It is a document in the making.
  • Make a photocopy and distribute it as desired.
  • Keep your wish list with your will.


Prepare a Will

A will is the legal document which specifies details of any funeral or memorial service. It provides directives. A number of factors come into play with a will. You can do-it-yourself or hire an attorney. The choice is yours. Be sure your will includes the following:

  • The full legal name of your executor
  • A signed, dated notary public
  • A date
  • Your legal name
  • Your legal address
  • List of items and who they are bequeathed to
  • Make a photocopy and distribute it to those involved
  • Keep your will in a safe deposit box along with your wish list
  • Update your will as needed.


Determine What Products You Want

The funeral industry is a profitable one that sells many items. You need to state which products you want to save time, money and frustration after your death. You can use the funeral home’s products and services, or choose a third party.

  • Who do you want to handle your flower arrangements?
  • What type of flower arrangement do you want?
  • What type of casket do you want? Caskets range from $2,000–$10,000 or more.
  • What type of ash urn do you prefer? They come constructed of all material types.
  • Do you need obituary or eulogy writing services?
  • Do you need online and offline submission services for your obituary or eulogy?
  • What do you want included in your memorial service? Do you have a caterer in mind?
  • Do you want an all-inclusive funeral home provided ceremony?


Decide on a Funeral Home

Choosing the perfect funeral home for your funeral and memorial service can make the grieving process less eventful. Here are some pointers:

  • Ask for referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals are the best way to find the perfect funeral provider. Ask your friends, family, work associates and online social circles for referrals.
  • Ask for feedback, positive and negative, about any referral. Weigh all options.
  • Go online and do research. Once you receive a real-life referral, go online and check the facility’s website. Do they seem professional, knowledgeable and caring? What do the online reviews say? Always remember that not everyone will be pleased with all funeral homes.
  • Prepare a list of questions. Sit down and think about products and services you want. You’ve already thought about this information as part of the above step. Write these down. Take this list with you for your meeting with the funeral director.
  • Pay a visit to the facility. Check out its landscaping, exterior and interior building maintenance. Is the parking lot well maintained and free of clutter? Once inside, is the atmosphere welcoming? If you are comfortable there, your guests will be. Trust your first impression and intuition.
  • Meet with the funeral director. Ask your questions. Does the director answer in a professional manner that uses easy-to-understand terms? Is the person easy to talk with? Do you feel comfortable? Do they seem genuinely concerned about satisfying your needs, wants, goals and objectives? Once again, listen to your gut reaction.


Planning a funeral and memorial service is a time-consuming, detail-oriented process. Preparing for it beforehand will make the process much easier and cheaper for everyone involved.


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