Funeral Planning Checklist: Your Guide to Making Arrangements for a Funeral

    September 5, 2012 0 Comments

Overwhelmed Funeral Planner

Use the guide below as you make arrangements for a funeral service.

The overwhelming task of funeral planning can be simplified if you know where to begin and what needs to be done. Use the simple funeral planning checklist below as a guide for planning your loved one’s funeral service. If you’d like more information on what to do when a loved one passes away, please visit eFuneral’s comprehensive online resource center.

Funeral planning checklist:

Begin with your loved one’s personal information
Write down your loved one’s full name, social security number, ethnicity, religion, residence, birth information, and death information. Having this information on-hand will be useful as you plan the service, take care of paperwork, prepare a eulogy, and write an obituary. You may also want to record your loved one’s personal information including family member information, education, military record, employment information, and accomplishments, as these will be helpful throughout the funeral planning process.

Specify the final disposition of the deceased
Decide whether your loved one will be buried, entombed, or cremated. Over the past few years, as the average cost of a funeral service has increased, more people have opted for a cremation because it can be cheaper than a burial – on average, $5,000 cheaper.

Choose a type of funeral service
A direct funeral service (direct burial or direct cremation) includes the basic funeral home and staff services (like filing death certificates, obtaining proper permits, coordinating plans with the cemetery or crematory, and filing for relevant benefits), transportation of the body, and a simple casket or urn.

A traditional funeral service includes all products or services included in a direct funeral service with the addition of embalming and professional preparation of the body, an outer burial container (to keep the grave from sinking), a funeral ceremony (with or without the casket or urn present), and the use of a hearse.

A traditional-plus funeral service includes all products or services included in a traditional funeral service with the addition of a public visitation in which the deceased is present in an open or closed casket.

A memorial service is often added to the funeral services above to give family members and friends the opportunity to honor the deceased and celebrate the life of their loved one. And some families choose to hold a graveside service, often in lieu of a funeral ceremony.

As you decide what type of funeral service you would like, think about whether or not you would prefer an open or closed casket present during any portion of the service – this may help in your decision regarding embalming and other preparation of the body. And then think about whether or not you’d like to hold the funeral ceremony, visitation, and/or memorial service at the funeral home or at another location, like a religious institution. You should also consider the schedule of the funeral service and the type of transportation you would prefer, both for the deceased and family members. Would you prefer that the deceased be transported in a hearse or funeral van? Would you prefer that family ride together in a limousine or sedan or that they ride separately?

Select the individuals who will be part of the funeral service
If you are planning a religious ceremony, decide who will preside over the funeral service. Next, decide which other individuals may be part of the funeral service as pallbearers, readers, performers…etc. And make sure to choose someone to deliver the eulogy.

Decide what products or services you will need for the funeral service
You will need to make many decisions around products and services ranging from caskets and urns to outer burial containers and floral arrangements. When making these choices, remember that you can make these purchases either directly from the funeral home you choose or from a third-party. Ask to see all your options, as these products can range widely on their prices. For instance, an average casket costs slightly more than $2,000, but some mahogany, bronze, or copper caskets sell for as much as $10,000. Also, consider whether or not you’d like to write an obituary or online tribute. If you’d like assistance crafting or submitting your message, ask your funeral director for assistance.

Select a funeral home for the funeral service
Finding and selecting a funeral home may be simple if you have a relationship with a specific funeral director or funeral home. But if you don’t know what the funeral homes in your area offer or charge, and if you’re unsure of their service quality, consider comparing your local funeral homes on based on pricing, ratings, reviews, location, and more. You may also consider asking trusted friends or advisers for recommendations. For as important a life event as a funeral is and for as much as you will pay to ensure your loved one gets the care they deserve, it’s important to pick the funeral home that will best meet your needs.

Have questions about this funeral planning checklist or your funeral arrangements?

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any eFuneral team member. Each of us is here to guide you every step of the way. And in case you’re wondering, all of our services are free. We will never ask you for a penny!

You can find more articles, videos, and tips relating to funeral planning at

Have you planned a funeral service? Share some of your tips below.

Leah Yomtovian Roush is the Senior Manager of Strategic Development for Cleveland, Ohio-based eFuneral, a comprehensive and free online resource that enables those thinking about end-of-life to research, plan, and arrange a wide variety of funeral-related services. Leah is the editor of eFuneral's Online Resource Center, and she manages the company's marketing efforts and develops strategies for company growth. Leah also serves on the Boards of multiple non-profit organizations, helping them expand their reaches and increase their impacts.

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