No one wants to deal with arranging a funeral at a difficult time, but understanding what you need to do and having a clear idea of the steps ahead can help make the process easier. Most funerals are arranged by the closest relatives or friends, and it can be helpful if there are instructions that have been left for you. However, if there aren’t, here’s an idea about how funerals are arranged and what you can expect.
Most funerals aren’t solely arranged by the persons closest to the deceased; instead, funeral directors are responsible for putting together most of the services. You should make sure you use a certified funeral director belonging to one such as the National Funeral Directors Association. It’s better to use certified funeral directors as they have to uphold certain standards and give you a sense of security. However, you don’t need a funeral director at all, you can also arrange it yourself. This will save you money, but be aware that there are a lot of steps involved.
If you go for a funeral director, you should receive a written estimate that breaks down the costs of the funeral. It’s recommended that you compare costs, but many people find that to be an extra hassle in a trying time.
Services to Expect
You should expect the following from a basic funeral package:
- A plain coffin with a lining
- Transportation of the body, along with care of the body until the funeral (including washing and dressing, but not embalming)
- The hearse
- The coffin-bearers
- Preparing the required paperwork
There are many extras that you can add onto the funeral, depending on which you think is appropriate and fitting.
Flower arrangement typically isn’t included in a basic package, and many people like to do this separately to have greater control over the arrangement and can organise something highly personalised.
A more expensive or more sustainable coffin may also be preferred. There are many different types of coffins and they can be highly personalised also.
The headstones typically aren’t covered by the funeral director. You can get a package with basic headstones covered, but it’s becoming more common to see unique designs for headstones.
If you want embalming or additional doctor certification, e.g. the medical certificate required for cremation, you might need to solicit a specialist, which can come with additional fees. Note that the basic package may not cover the burial or crematorium fee, which usually includes the cost of preparing the grave.
Typically, the church services aren’t included either. Any religious services may need to be sorted externally, which can come with additional costs. You may also need to hire an organist.
Some funeral directors require a deposit before the arrangement, but most will agree to allow payment by instalment, or payment after the legal process of dealing with the individual’s estate has concluded. If there are any legal claims against somebody for the death, the cost of the funeral can be compensated if the case is won. If you need help with funeral costs, you may be eligible for federal assistance.