Funeral Planning & Arrangements

Planning a funeral is a rare event in most people lives. Faced with making arrangements at a time when we are under emotional pressure makes the task more difficult.

If you are planning your own funeral then it can be the point when you truly face your own mortality and grief. A funeral is about more than just disposing of a body. It is a time for celebrating life, saying goodbyes and making the exit you want.

Leaving all the arrangements to family and friends who will undoubtedly be upset can cause a huge financial and emotional burden. They may be unsure of your wishes regarding issues such as cremation or religious ceremony or may be unable to make the kind of clear and rational decisions you can make now.

A funeral is an event which is unique to the individual and by planning your funeral before you die you can ensure it reflects your personality, desires and needs. In this section you can find information about types of funerals, writing tributes and the costs associated with funerals

Types of Funeral
Funerals have existed for thousands of years and are performed in one form or another across all religions and in all countries. Different religions have very different approaches to how they treat the body of a person who has died and you can find more information at Wikipedia.

The two most common types of funeral are burial and cremation.

Burial
You can be buried in a cemetery, churchyard, vault, in woodland and at sea. In the UK everyone has a right to be buried in the churchyard of the parish in which they die providing there are spaces. If there are no spaces then you must ask the clergy in another local parish. Your local authority may also have a graveyard.

There are often fees associated with the cost of burial including a grave digging fee and exclusive rights to a plot - a funeral director or cemetery can advise you of all the costs. If you pay for a space in advance then you need to make sure the paperwork relating to the plot is left in a safe place, easy to find and mentioned in your will.

Cremation
Local authorities run the majority of crematoria. Before cremation takes place, three forms must be signed. the next of kin sign one form and the other two by two different doctors unless the person died in hospital and a post mortem has been carried out. In this case only the doctor who attended the last illness needs to sign.

There are fees payable to these doctors and for the use of the crematorium; scattering of the ashes is usually included in the fee although you may collect the ashes if you wish.

You can have a service in the chapel which is usually attached to the crematorium and a funeral director can help you get in touch with a member of the clergy or other religious person if required. You will be allowed to play music and have readings as in a church. You can find extensive information at the Cremation Society.
If you don’t want a religious person to conduct your funeral then friends and family can do readings or you can find non religious service conductors from The British Humanist Society.

Less Traditional Funerals
Non traditional funerals and burials are becoming much more common. Many people now prefer to throw a ‘life celebration’ rather than the black cloaked traditional funeral. You can find lots of useful information on secular funerals here.
‘DIY’ burials are becoming commonplace, in some cases it is possible to be buried on private land. If you have always been an environmentalist you can be buried in a woodland. Your local authority can provide more information.

There will be costs involved whatever type of funeral you decide on. You or the deceased may have paid into a funeral plan which will provide some or all of the funds needed to cover funeral expenses. The best place for a guide to costs is a funeral director who will have access to all the information you need. However, if you prefer to manage the event personally then you can use our funeral expense calculator and our funeral planning checklist to help you.

If you have any problems with a funeral plan you can contact the Funeral Planning Authority. The FPA is the self-regulatory organisation for the funeral planning sector created by the Funeral Planning Council and the National Association for Pre-Paid Funeral Plans, ensuring consumer protection for the security of customer's money and delivery of the funeral. Funeral costs can also be covered from your estate after your death or from a life insurance policy. You can also get help from the government if you are on a low income