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Guidance to help you through the emotional and practical steps of losing a loved one, from coping with bereavement to arranging a funeral.

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.
2 min read
In this article
Key questions to ask yourself What were the deceased’s wishes? The stages of arranging a funeral

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:

Further reading

Choosing a funeral director

We tell you what a funeral director does, as well as giving you advice on choosing a funeral director who is right for ...

Funeral plans

We offer advice on how to plan the funeral service for your loved one, exploring the options available, including ...

Plans for the service itself

Your funeral director and/or minister/officiant will help you to plan the funeral service, but here are a few things ...

Last updated: 14 Nov 2018