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Planning Your Own Funeral - What Should You Include?

Preparing for Death

Everyone’s funeral is different and you want yours to be unique and give your family and friends the perfect goodbye. There is plenty to think about and planning your own funeral can take some of the pressure away from your loved ones.

If you’re thinking of planning your own funeral, then here’s everything that you need to know.

How to plan my own funeral

Paying for the funeral

The first thing you need to think about is, unfortunately, money. It may be that this isn’t going to be a concern for you as you already have funeral insurance/plan or life insurance. This can give your family access to money very quickly and allow them to carry out your wishes without thinking about the cost.

It's worth noting that your loved ones won't be able to pay for the funeral directly from your estate. This is because your funeral will be carried out before the probate process has been completed. Insurance can be a much quicker way to access the funds required.

You'll have to think about all of the various costs involved and get a rough idea on how much the funeral will cost. This may limit the type of funeral you have but hopefully, you have the level of financial cover required for everything you want.

Before the funeral

There are a few aspects to think about before the funeral takes place.

Body preparation – A lot of people don’t think about this but you may want your body to be prepared in a specific way, such as environmentally friendly and without embalming fluid.

Clothing – What do you want to be dressed in? A suit? Sports top? Something casual? Everyone will have their own ideas but many people simply leave this up to their family to decide.

Funeral directors – You may have a preferred funeral director, such as the same company that took care of the funeral of a parent, for example.

The big funeral decisions

Burial or cremation – Perhaps the biggest decision you need to make is whether you want to be buried or cremated. You’ll probably already know the answer to this and it’s vital to let family members know this key wish.

Type of service – You should also consider what type of service you want. Would you prefer for it to be a religious or humanist service? This is where you need to think about the format of the funeral, such as a church service and then a church burial.

Location of service – Where do you want the service to be held? This could be at a specific church or crematorium. This is usually held at the closest venue to your home but your wishes may be different.

Funeral wishes

Type of wake – In the US and Ireland a wake usually means viewing the body before the funeral. In the UK, it often means a social gathering after death. You should think about what type of social gathering your loved ones will have around the funeral.

Pallbearers – You can decide who is going to carry your coffin. This is usually carried by six people and they have to be strong enough to be able to carry it. If you have less than six the funeral director can often make up numbers or instead, a special trolley can be used.

Eulogy – A eulogy is a semi-biographical tribute to a person’s life. If you one someone in particular to write this eulogy then you should state it in your wishes. Eulogies can also be delivered by a vicar/celebrant etc. after consultation with your family.

Readings – A number of readings should also be allowed at your funeral. Often this will be poems and you can ask for specific bits of writing to be read out. This may even be something you write yourself.

Songs/Hymns – Most venues will allow you to have 3 or 4 songs/hymns to be played at your funeral. You may wish for upbeat music to lift the mood or perhaps a wedding song. Music is very personal and this can be a great way to make it personal.

Other funeral considerations

There are all the other aspects of the funeral that you may wish to have input in. Here is a list of what else you may want to include in your plan

• Flowers • A request for donations to charity • Where your ashes are scattered • What is written on a gravestone? • Transportation of the coffin • Type of coffin • Dress code for the funeral • Photographs to be used • The order of service • Procession route to the funeral

What should you include?

This almost everything that you'll need to think about for your funeral plan but should you include it all? The answer for everyone will be different. The deceased often have little input into their funeral aside from a few wishes and whether they are buried or cremated.

Making decisions can make it easier for family but conversely, having wishes that are too specific may cause stress. The family you leave behind can often find peace and unity in choosing the likes of music, flower arrangements or where ashes can be scattered.

From the above, make a list of what you care deeply about and then your family can decide on anything around these key wishes.

Should I put my funeral wishes in a will?

You don’t have to write your wishes in a will but you should write them down somewhere. You may tell your spouse but detailed funeral arrangements can be hard to remember. Write them down and store them away. You can cement these wishes in a will be that’s not a necessity unless your wishes are going to affect the value of your estate.

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