Did your loved one unexpectedly pass away? Your next step is to plan a funeral on short notice. Discover how to make funeral arrangements quickly.
How often do you think about dying? Even if you don’t obsess about your own death, you might think about what might happen if someone you love dies.
What would you do if a family member, partner, or close friend died unexpectedly and you had the job of planning their funeral?
Unless you’ve made a career of it, or you’ve planned the funerals for other loved ones, you have no idea how to make funeral arrangements. You’re not alone, and shouldn’t be at a time like this.
We want to take a minute and help you prepare for this difficult event. Read this post, print it out or save it in your archives. You’ll have a step-by-step plan at your fingertips.
Work with a Checklist
In a perfect world, you’d have time to talk with your loved one ahead of time. If you’re dealing with an unexpected death, you won’t have the luxury of knowing what they wanted for their final goodbye.
Making a funeral checklist as soon as possible after the death will make the rest of the planning process go smoothly.
The checklist should come before you set the funeral budget. Get together with other immediate family members and ask for input. Funerals have a way of bringing even the most disconnected families together and you should take care to not leave anyone out.
Make an extra effort to include people who’ve committed to helping you pay for the funeral expenses. A funeral checklist should include the following details:
- Funeral Venue
- Funeral Officiant
These are the basics, but you and your family should feel free to modify the checklist to serve your unique needs.
Put Together the Funeral Budget
What a relief if your loved one put money aside for their funeral expenses! Sometimes that isn’t possible, and you’ll end up covering the costs. If that’s the case with your situation, it’s up to you and your family to determine how much you can spend.
Planning a funeral and doing it with a budget in mind, doesn’t have to divide the family.
Emotions usually run high when a family faces the death of a person they love. Each person deals with the loss in their own way. Sometimes that includes going overboard with extravagant funeral details.
Putting together a budget and sticking with it can help make the entire funeral planning process easier for everyone.
The Money Talk
In 2019, the average funeral cost is between $7,000 and $9,000. Buying the casket is often your highest expense. If you’ve decided on cremation, you may spend anywhere from $2000-$4000.
Paying for a funeral is difficult enough if you’re on your own and don’t have the money. If you have siblings or other family members who want to have a say in things, it’s even harder.
While you certainly can’t force anyone to contribute, you should present the budget and the funeral checklist so that everyone who needs to be involved gains an understanding of how much money you’ll need.
It’s easiest if each person can pay an equal amount towards the costs. Maybe you have family members who can’t afford to pay as much as the others. Whatever you do, don’t make them feel uncomfortable—encourage them to contribute what they can (if anything) financially.
You’ll have plenty of tasks you can divide up among the group. Allow people to share in that aspect of the funeral so that they feel like they’re contributing something even if it’s not money.
Is There a Life Insurance Policy?
Another blessing many people forget about when a loved one dies suddenly is a life insurance policy.
It’s great if you’re the beneficiary of a policy because it’s possible you can use the money for funeral expenses. Contact the insurance company for instructions about filing a claim. Keep in mind that you may need to cover the funeral initially while waiting for the claim processing.
Don’t rule out seeking help with funeral expenses from a church or other community group where your loved one had ties. Also, if they were a veteran, check with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for information on filing a claim.
Taking Care of the Body
No one wants to think about transporting a loved one’s body, but it’s a necessary part of the planning process.
Nursing homes and hospitals take care of moving the body to a funeral home. If the person dies at home or away from a healthcare facility, a coroner typically comes and officially pronounces the death.
Depending on your location, your state may require an autopsy. You’ll pay to transport the body to a morgue for the autopsy, and then to the funeral home.
Another part of taking care of your loved one’s remains deals with paperwork such as the Death Registration, Death Certificate, Burial Permit. Usually, you can get information on these forms from the Department of Health, also called the Department of Statistics in some counties.
Planning the Funeral Service
Now you can plan the funeral or memorial service for your loved one.
The traditional funeral service consists of 3 parts:
If you decide on a traditional funeral, you can hold the visitation and service at a funeral home. You can also hold the service at a place of worship. If you prefer a unique funeral service, consider any of the following locations:
- A hotel
- A boat
- At home
People also hold funeral services in parks or natural areas. If your loved one enjoyed the ocean, consider a seaside service.
A viewing isn’t necessary, but do plan a service or memorial where people can come and say goodbye.
Now You Know How to Make Funeral Arrangements
Even though it’s not something any of us want to dwell on, it’s helpful to have a plan for the day a loved one dies.
Making a funeral checklist, putting together a budget, taking care of the business side of death, and finally planning the service is all part of knowing how to make funeral arrangements.
After reading this, hopefully, you feel more prepared for that day when it comes.
If you found this post helpful, continue reading through our archives. You’ll find articles on everything family. Thanks for reading!