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Planning your own funeral

It may seem strange to think about your own funeral, but putting plans in place can be reassuring. Read our tips on what to think about and where to get help with funeral planning.
3 min read
In this article
Why plan your own funeral? Pre-paid funeral plans Making a list of your preferences
More help with funeral planning

Why plan your own funeral?

It's estimated that only around one in 10 people put written funeral plans in place. Taking the first step of thinking about what you want, and then talking to family and friends about it, can be the hardest part. But it can be well worth it.

Putting plans in place is reassuring because it gives you the peace of mind that your funeral will reflect your wishes. It can also ease the burden on bereaved family members and friends at a difficult time, when it can be hard to think clearly and make decisions on someone else’s behalf. Knowing your wishes means that they can plan the funeral you would have wanted. It can even help with the expense of a funeral, as it helps the person responsible to make clear decisions, which is often harder to do while experiencing strong emotions.

Pre-paid funeral plans

Funerals can be expensive. According to research by SunLife, the average cost of a funeral in 2018 was £4,271 (Cost of Dying Report 2018), and friends and family can struggle to find the money to pay. Costs also tend to keep rising year on year.

A national survey into dying and bereavement, commissioned by The Co-operative Funeralcare in 2018, revealed that up to four million people in the UK had experienced financial hardship as a result of a loved one’s death. At the same time, 51% of people aged 70 or over had saved nothing at all towards the cost of their funeral.

One way to protect your family from the unexpected expense of a funeral is to take out a pre-paid funeral plan. These let you pay for a funeral in advance, and effectively fix the costs at current prices.

Different plans vary greatly in what they cover. Which? Money has more information about how pre-paid funeral plans work and how much they cost. You can also explore how more than 25 of the best pre-paid funeral plans compare, in terms of upfront costs, services and additional charges.

Making a list of your preferences

While a conversation with family and friends is helpful, it’s even more helpful to write down your thoughts. Start by creating a checklist of things you want to cover in your plan and then decide how to record it. There are plenty of funeral planning guides available online that you can use. Or you can simply start with a blank piece of paper and jot down your preferences.

Don’t forget that most funeral directors would be happy to talk to you about your options if you need help thinking about what you’d like.

Some of the things to consider include:

  • where you’d like to hold your funeral
  • whether you’d like to be buried or cremated
  • if cremated, what you'd like to happen to your ashes
  • if you'd like your loved ones to view your body
  • whether you prefer a religious service or not
  • if there’s someone you would like to speak at your funeral
  • who you would like to be invited
  • any preferred music or readings
  • whether you want flowers
  • the clothes you’d like to be dressed in
  • what you’d like your guests to wear
  • what kind of reception you might like
  • if you have a preferred funeral company.

It’s a good idea to let your loved ones or carers know that you’ve written down your wishes. Put your list somewhere easy to find, ideally with other helpful documents, such as a copy of your will and details of any pre-paid funeral plans.

Which? Probate
Our free checklist breaks down the probate process into essential tasks and will help keep you on track.

More help with funeral planning

If you’re planning a funeral for someone else and need some help, our guide to Arranging a funeral has more advice on planning, costs and choosing a funeral director.

Further reading

Advance care planning

Planning ahead for the final stages of life makes it more likely you’ll be cared for in the way that you’d prefer.

Funeral plans

How to plan a funeral service. Exploring the options available, including non-religious and humanist funerals.

Last updated: 01 Mar 2019