Planning your funeral

When it comes to planning your funeral there are lots of options available to consider. A funeral director will be able to help plan both the practical and personal elements but we’ve covered some of the things you might want to think about in advance.

Talk to your family and friends about your funeral wishes.
Your funeral is a chance for loved ones to say goodbye and celebrate your life. Discussing your wishes for your funeral can reassure friends and family that the day is exactly as you would have wanted it to be. Some of the things you can plan with them might include:

- where you would like the service to be held
- whether you would like a burial or cremation
- what readings and song you would like
- who you would like to attend
- what you would like to wear
- whether you would like a religious service.

Paying for your funeral
Funerals can be very expensive but with some advanced planning the cost can be covered ahead of time. Setting up a funeral pre-payment plan with a funeral directors will ensure that part, if not all, of your funeral costs are covered.

Deciding to be cremated often means the funeral costs are less expensive as the body is cremated at a time that is suitable for the crematorium and you do not have to have a service. Instead your friends and family can hold a service or ceremony at a time and place that suits them and celebrates your life in a way that means something to all in attendance.

If you are not able to plan your funeral or do not feel this is something you are comfortable with, your loved ones will do this. It could be that those arranging your funeral are eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment (also called a Funeral Payment) if they receive certain benefits.

The Funeral Expenses Payment can help to pay for some of the costs such as burial fees, crematorium fees, travel to the funeral, death certificates and other documents. You can check your eligibility here.

Can I have a non-religious funeral?
Yes. It might be that you would rather have a humanist or family-led funeral or that you have special requests such as a coffin made form materials like wicker or cardboard. It is possible to plan and arrange for all of these wishes.

A funeral need not be led by a religious minister. In fact a funeral can be led by a family member or friend. Many people opt for a celebrant to officiate their funeral and include poems or non-religious readings.

There is no set way to hold your funeral and remember, any decisions you make can be altered should you change your mind.

Funeral reception wake
Most, but not all, funerals are followed by a wake or reception. It may be that you choose to have only family and close friends at your service and invite other mourners and sympathises to the reception.

A reception or wake following a funeral usually takes place in the afternoon or early evening on the same day. Hotels, community centres, gardens, pubs and golf clubs can all be booked as funeral reception venues if your loved ones choose not to host it at their home. Your funeral director can help organise the venue you choose for your wake.

Next steps

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Advance decisions - living wills

An advance decision, sometimes referred to as a living will, allows you to communicate your wishes should you become unable to. They allow you to refuse treatment, even if this might lead to your death.

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Making a will

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Helpful organisations for end of life planning

Helpful organisations for end of life planning.