Fall 2006

Checklist for Funeral Arrangements

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Alban Salaman

When tragedy strikes and a loved one passes away, it is extremely difficult for bereaved family members to concentrate on making funeral arrangements. One of the most caring and thoughtful acts is for a person to make funeral plans in advance in order to relieve his or her family of this burden. The following checklist is intended to serve as a guide for those who wish to engage in pre-need planning or for family members who must attend to making funeral arrangements while coping with their loss.

Gather Vital Statistics

  • Date and place of birth of the deceased person, along with his or her father’s name and mother’s maiden name
  • Social Security number
  • Veterans discharge or claim number
  • Obituary information, including education, occupation, memberships, military service, outstanding work and a list of survivors in immediate family


  • Family and friends
  • Funeral home and cemetery
  • Clergy
  • Pallbearers
  • Lawyers, accountants and financial advisors
  • Newspapers where obituary notice is to appear – this may include the local newspaper where the decedent last lived and his or her hometown newspaper


  • Consider a “pre-need” contract – this locks in prices, but more importantly, avoids the need for on-the-spot decision making by survivors during an emotional time
  • Cremation – discuss how or where ashes will be kept or disposed of
  • Burial
  • Casket and vault
  • Cemetery property and plot
  • Select grave marker and inscription on stone
  • Perpetual care for gravesite
  • Clothing
  • Determine if jewelry (such as wedding ring) will remain on deceased when buried
  • Wake/viewing hours
  • Preferences as to open or closed casket
  • Funeral/memorial service – time and place (arrange with clergy/church or synagogue; readings, any special music, speakers)
  • Flowers
  • Funeral/memorial service program, include picture and favorite saying
  • Thank you cards
  • Transportation (funeral home may arrange)
  • Time and place for reception or visitation after funeral
  • After arrangements are completed, notify out-of-town attendees of time and place of wake and/or funeral and suggest accommodations.

Documents and Other Items to Locate

  • Deed to cemetery plot
  • Original estate planning documents (will, revocable trust, etc.)
  • Contract for pre-need services
  • Photographs

Additional Actions to Consider

  • Find someone to help answer phone calls, cards and letters, and to help with reception as well as greet friends and relatives when they call.
  • Decide appropriate charities to which gifts may be made (religious institution, hospice, other charity, etc.) and decide appropriate memorial (e.g., scholarship fund).
  • Prepare list of distant persons or organizations to be notified by letter or notice, such as colleges attended, alumni associations; college and graduate school publications; professional magazines.
  • Prepare list of cancellations that should be made following death, such as club memberships.

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