Checklist for Funeral Arrangements
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
- 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
- Casket and vault
- Cemetery property and plot
- Select grave marker and inscription on stone
- Perpetual care for gravesite
- 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)
- 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
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.