How to guide for making funeral arrangements

When a friend or loved one has just died or a death is expected to take place soon, there are many details to take care of. This can be a very stressful time. You are grieving and may have assumed a great responsibility by taking on the task of making funeral arrangements for someone you care about. The following information will make this difficult time easier for you.

We’ll take you through the steps of arranging a funeral — from making the first calls when someone dies to taking care of the financial and administrative matters that have to be handled following the funeral.

Steps in the Funeral Planning Process

1.First Call

Make the “first calls” to notify the appropriate parties and have the deceased removed from the place of death.

2.Deceased Transportation

The First Call results in an initial transfer of the deceased from the place of death to a funeral home or other facility. In some cases, a second transfer may be required either locally to another funeral home or to another city.


Determine if the deceased left behind a pre-arranged funeral plan. A pre-arranged plan generally specifies the funeral service provider that the deceased selected.

4.Funeral Services

Meet with a funeral director to make arrangements for the funeral services. This will include how the deceased will be cared for, whether you will have a burial or cremation, and what type of ceremony will be held.

5.Cemetery Arrangements

If cemetery property has not already been purchased, meet with officials of the selected cemetery to purchase interment property (e.g., grave plot, crypt, niche for an urn). The funeral director may be able to make these arrangements on behalf of your family.

6.Funeral and Memorial Products

Select and purchase the necessary merchandise (casket, burial vault, urn, etc.), memorial items (grave marker, online memorial) and funeral stationery.

7.Estate, Financial, and Administrative Matters

Following the funeral, the affairs of the deceased must be put in order. These matters range from sending death notices to filing death benefit claims to changing the title of the deceased’s assets.

Making Funeral Arrangements when Death is Imminent

If a friend or loved one is seriously ill and expected to die in a matter of days or weeks, consider making funeral arrangements in advance. Preparing ahead of time puts you in control. It will make your meeting with a funeral director more productive and is likely save you money.

Common Questions About Arranging a Funeral

What if there is no money to pay for a funeral?

Funerals are expensive and unfortunately, people don’t always set aside resources to pay for them. How much public and private assistance is available will depend on where you live and your financial circumstances.

Do I have to call the police when there is a death at home?

You may not have to notify the police when there is a death at home. Exactly who you call will depend on the circumstances of the death.

Are there people other than a funeral director that can help me plan a funeral?

You will likely need a funeral director to help you make arrangements for handling the body, but in many states this is not required. If you are in an area that permits home funerals and burials, you may be able to handle most of the preparation yourself. As far as arranging the ceremony, you may find that you would like to work with a funeral celebrant. A funeral celebrant is a trained professional whose job is to help you plan the type of ceremony you would like.

How do I decide if cremation is right for me or my loved one?

Today, about half of people decide that cremation is the right choice for them. Whether or not to be cremated is a personal decision that only you can make. The best way to make an informed decision is to learn as much as you can about it. We have a comprehensive section of information relating to cremation that can help you understand how the process works and what type of questions you should ask in order to decide what’s right for you.

Do I have to have a funeral?

No! You do not have to have a funeral. For some people, a memorial service (no body is present) is preferred. For others, there is no ceremony at all. The way you are memorialized is entirely up to you.