Funeral Planning

Planning a funeral takes time and a great deal of organization. You also have various people and elements to consider. Check out these ideas to help you understand each aspect of a funeral.

When loved ones pass, the grief can often place things out of perspective. Knowing and planning what to do in a time of death is the only way to make smart decisions about burial and memorial services. There are a ton of questions that you probably have for funeral directors, and they will likely want to know some things, too. What kind of funeral do you want? What funeral services do you need? How much do those cost? Should you bury or cremate the deceased? What are those costs? Most of that will be covered by one of many sections on TheFuneral.org, which was designed to help people plan for the worst but also make the best decisions that won't lead to any regret. There are many funeral parlors that manage to take advantage of customers simply because they don't know how to plan correctly.

Know the Laws

Did you know that there is something called The Funeral Rule? It's enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. Basically, The Funeral Rule allows you to choose only the goods and services that you want or need and to only pay for those that you pick, whether you make those arrangements at the time of death or in advance. This law also allows you to compare prices for different funeral services. There are some basic rights given to any individual planning a funeral, such as the fact that funeral directors have to give you pricing information over the phone if you ask for it and that they have to provide you with a written itemized price list when you visit a funeral home. You can read more about The Funeral Law and your rights at the FTC site.

A Funeral Checklist

While a list doesn't work for everyone, it certainly can put your time and money into perspective. A checklist is recommended so that you don't forget all the details in a funeral, whether simple or elaborate. Here's a simple checklist that can give you a head start on planning.

  • Notify authorities. You may have already done this, but you will need to do this so that a coroner can be notified. You'll need to do this if you had insurance policies. In addition, the authorities will need to notify next of kin.
  • Notify friends and family. A phone call to a close friend or relative is sufficient in this situation, but if they live nearby, visiting in person is recommended. Those who need to travel for the funeral will need to be notified sooner to make arrangements.
  • Gather information and discuss expenses. You should call different funeral homes and compare prices, learn the different burial methods and find one that is particularly well referenced and available for your funeral. Once you have this information, you can discuss expenses with relatives.
  • Research information to complete the death certificate. You will need to complete a death certificate at the funeral home, which includes the parent's names, social security number, birth date of the deceased, place of work (name and address) and occupation of the deceased.

Again, this is a basic checklist, but it walks you through the process. There are other things to consider when planning a funeral that will come after you talk to the funeral director.

At the Funeral Home

You'll also need to make choices regarding how to embalm the body, what will be worn on the body, and the type of burial (cemetery plot, vault or mausoleum). You also have to decide on a casket and what type of casket (metal or wood). In addition, you may want to have an open casket at the funeral service, and some clergy persons actually insist that the casket remain closed, so you have to talk to your place of funeral services to really make a decision.

Other Things to Do

Probably the most important part besides the funeral is preserving the memory of the deceased. You'll need to make arrangements and write an obituary to publish in the newspaper. You may also want to prepare a eulogy and discuss how the procession will be handled. If there is a memorial service, these are normally held before the actual burial.