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First decisions when arranging a funeral

There are many decisions to make when arranging a funeral. We provide a checklist of things to think about in the early stages.
3 min read
In this article
Coronavirus and funerals Key questions to ask yourself What were the deceased’s wishes?
The stages of arranging a funeral Planning ahead for your own funeral

Coronavirus and funerals

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions were placed on the number of attendees permitted at a funeral. From 17 May 2021 the number of mourners allowed to attend a funeral will be determined by how many people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.

Find out about the latest guidance on funerals on Gov.uk

Key questions to ask yourself

When you start making plans for a funeral of a loved one, it can be helpful to think through these questions to ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

  • Did the deceased make their wishes clear?
  • Did they leave any instructions about their funeral in a will, or did they discuss this with family members before their death?
  • Should you opt for a cremation or burial?
  • Is there a pre-paid funeral plan?
  • What sort of ceremony do you and other relatives or friends want, if any?
  • Do you wish to use a funeral director?
  • What will the funeral cost?
  • Who will pay for the funeral?
  • What paperwork is needed?
  • Who do you need to tell?

What were the deceased’s wishes?

Knowing what your loved one wanted to happen after their death can be immensely helpful. Your loved one may have left instructions for their funeral service in their will, or discussed their wishes with family members. They may have specified whether they wanted a burial (also known as interment) or a cremation. If not, this may be determined by his or her faith and cultural tradition, but cost may also be a factor (see more information on our article about funeral payments).



Before making any arrangements, check if there was a pre-paid funeral plan, in which case everything should already be taken care of. You should also check if there was a will. A person’s wishes for their funeral are not legally binding on the next of kin, even if they’re written in the will. But it can be comforting to know that you’re following their wishes.


In some cases, there may be practical reasons why it’s not possible to fulfil all of their wishes. For example, there may not be enough money to do everything that has been requested, or the deceased may not have left space within a ceremony for a eulogy or tribute to be given, and the family may wish for it.

The stages of arranging a funeral

The next steps in the process are:

Planning ahead for your own funeral

You may choose to put plans in place for your own funeral. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your funeral will reflect your wishes. It can also make things easier for bereaved family and friends at a difficult time.

Find out how to record your wishes and plan ahead – Planning your own funeral.

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Further reading

Choosing a funeral director

Read about what a funeral director does, and how to choose one who is right for you at this emotional time.

Funeral plans

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

Planning a funeral service

Your funeral director and celebrant will help you plan the service, but here are some things you need to consider.

Last updated: 13 Jul 2021