Our 5-Step Preparing a Funeral Checklist 2024

February 1, 2024   -  

As the old saying goes, “Funerals are for the living.” However, The Postage wants to change the conversation about death and dying, and that starts with planning your funeral. We’ve created an easy-to-follow funeral preparation checklist with only five steps:

  1. Assemble your last wishes
  2. Choose the type of ceremony you want
  3. Determine what you want to happen at your funeral
  4. Decide what should happen with your body and remains
  5. Calculate how it will be paid for

We’ve also assembled additional components for each to help you with organizing. The more pre-planning for your funeral you can do now — especially before an end-of-life scenario — the more time your loved ones will have to grieve your passing instead of event planning.

1. Assemble Your Last Wishes

You must determine what you want to happen in your last days of life and those first few days after your passing. You should do so now, long before you come close to death. If you wait until the end, your loved ones will be sad about losing you, and you might not be in the right frame of mind to make informed choices. 

Your last wishes should include the following information:

  • Living will
  • Durable power of attorney – who makes financial and legal decisions
  • Healthcare power of attorney – who makes health decisions
  • Last will and testament – what happens to your estate after you pass
  • The disposition – whether you want your body buried or cremated
  • Your obituary – whether you write your own or you assign someone else to write it

Proper funeral planning begins with the days right before you pass away.

2. Choose the Type of Ceremony You Want

We encourage people to plan their funeral because it’s intensely personal and intimate. It begins by deciding precisely the type of event you want, as the options are conversely wide-ranging and culturally specific. 

  • Religious service
  • Memorial
  • Wake
  • Visitation
  • Viewing
  • Graveside service
  • Celebration
  • Scattering of ashes
  • Dinner party

You can even pick and choose several of these options, depending upon what you want and how you think your family and friends will want to remember you. It’s about your life and passing, but it’s also about who you are leaving behind.

3. Determine What You Want to Happen at Your Funeral

If you want to ensure that the events meet your exact wishes, you need to be clear and specific with your preparations. While you might prefer to give general guidelines, we’ve learned that details make the difference.

  • Attendees
  • Venue
  • Decorations
  • Refreshments
  • Music
  • Video
  • Speakers
  • Readings
  • Personal messages from the departed
  • Pallbearers
  • Sharing of heirlooms (not deemed necessary for inclusion in the formal estate)

You might also want to consider naming the person who will be responsible for your funeral. We recommend picking a close friend instead of a partner or child so that your loved ones can use the time to grieve.

Don’t think of this as party-planning — though we know some people who are planning big events for their funeral. Think of it as removing a significant burden from your loved ones.

4. Decide What Will Happen to Your Body and Remains

Now that you’ve figured out how your loved ones will memorialize your passing, it’s time to decide how you want your body to be treated. There are two basic options:

  1. Burial
  2. Cremation

What you choose typically depends upon your religious and cultural beliefs, but many people are beginning to opt for a range of different options. We’ve seen many of the following choices made by our family and friends:

  • Full embalming casket burial, whether in-ground or in an above-ground location
  • Limited processing pine box burial
  • Eco-friendly shroud burial
  • Home burial
  • Urn
  • Conversion into keepsake or memorial
  • Donation to medical science

Additionally, you’ll need to select when you want your body to be attended to, depending upon the timing of your funeral.

  • Keeping your body preserved for an open-casket viewing
  • Cremating your body to give your loved ones more time to assemble for your funeral
  • Storing your body if it takes more time to prepare the means and location for where your body will be interred

Again, this should be your choice, not your family’s. You don’t want them to make the wrong decision for you, especially if your body’s post-death status matters to you.

5. Calculate How Your Funeral Will Be Paid For

This part is tricky since you can’t always determine the exact pricing for a funeral in advance. We do recommend calling funeral homes in your area to gain an estimate for how much a funeral might cost — especially if this will be a multi-stage event over a few days. From there, you can make the following preparations for financing your funeral:

  • Set aside money in a specific bank account
  • Purchase funeral insurance as part of your life insurance package
  • Set aside specific heirlooms to be sold to pay for everything
  • Specify parts of your estate that can be liquidated as payment

Depending upon if you want a basic setup with cremation or an involved event with full burial and interment, the average funeral can cost between $6,000 and $12,000. Not only is that a wide range in terms of price, but you don’t want to have your family assume debt for your funeral when you could have made preparations in advance.

The Postage Can Help with Planning for Your Funeral

Preparing your funeral is an involved process. Not only do you have big decisions to make, but the process involves a range of documents your loved ones will need to access both during your last days and after you pass. 

The Postage helps with your funeral preparations checklist by providing a secure and user-friendly online portal where you can store all your relevant information about your life while planning for the future. This includes: 

  • Medical files
  • Insurance information
  • Last will and testament
  • Living will
  • Last wishes
  • Funeral plans
  • Messaging for your family and friends after you pass

Even better, you can assign when, where, and how specific people can see all that information. We call them delegates, and you have the power to choose whomever you want, depending upon what you deem best.

If you’re ready to begin planning your funeral and preparing for other end-of-life issues that will save you and your family lots of stress down the road, talk to The Postage today. 

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