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How to Stay Organized When Planning a Funeral

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Did you know only 21% of people have talked to a loved one about their final wishes? With such a low percentage, it’s no surprise that planning a funeral is one of life’s most stressful events—especially since there are upwards of 125 decisions to make in the first 48 hours.

While funeral homes do their best to walk you through each step of the process, planning a funeral can be overwhelming. This is especially true if your loved one didn’t leave behind prearranged plans for you to reference as guidance.

To relieve some of the stress that goes into the planning process, we explain how to stay organized below.

1. Select a Provider

If your loved one didn’t opt to preplan, you’ll need to select a funeral home to arrange services with. 

To narrow your options down, create a list of providers within your area. As you browse online, look for reviews that can help to eliminate ill-fitting options before making calls and visits. You’ll want to choose a reputable provider with modern, updated offerings. If you’re considering cremation, it’s recommended to select a funeral home with an on-site crematory to prevent mixed up cremated remains.

During this time, you’ll also want to determine how much you’re willing to spend on services, as this may influence your decision. Funeral homes are required by law to provide you with a general price list for goods and services. These are normally posted online, so make sure to share this information with anyone involved in paying for services. 

Organization Tip

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about finances, create a spreadsheet to keep yourself organized. List out each item and the corresponding price to ensure you don’t exceed your budget. There are also budgeting apps available for tracking and saving money, so you can set a budget and stick to it.  

Some funeral homes offer the ability to purchase items on-site through a remembrance center. In this case, all fees are charged under one bill for one location with a clear price, so there are no hidden costs.

2. Fill Out the Necessary Documents

Once you’ve selected a provider, you’ll need to gather the necessary documents to plan services, including a death certificate form

To obtain a death certificate, seek assistance from the funeral home staff. They will help you fill out the form and file it with the correct parties, like the local registrar or medical examiner. It’s usually beneficial to order a few extra copies for unexpected needs.

You’ll need these forms to complete a variety of legal transactions, including but not limited to:

  • Probating the will.
  • Filing life insurance.
  • Changing property deeds or titles.
  • Closing bank accounts, mutual funds, stocks or bonds.

If you’ve chosen cremation, you’ll need to also fill out a cremation authorization form. This verifies that you’re legally authorized to arrange a cremation on your loved one’s behalf.

Organization Tip 

Keep these forms, along with credit card statements, bank notices and other important paperwork, in a filing cabinet or folder until you’re able to reach out to all involved parties to notify them of the death. Using colored labels can help you distinguish property titles from mutual funds, which makes it easy to sort through the various documents. Plus, it keeps everything in one central location as you plan services.

3. Arrange Services

Now that you have all the paperwork behind you, it’s time to arrange services. After establishing a mutually agreed upon budget, final disposition method, time and place, you’ll need to specify your family’s preferences for personalization.

Personalization gives families a chance to add special touches to the service that remind them of their loved one as they say their final goodbye. Personalization options include:

  • Memorial cards and folders.
  • Video tributes.
  • Photo slideshows.
  • Flower arrangements.
  • Personal displays.
  • Music, prayers and readings.

Adding these items can deepen the meaning of your loved one’s tribute to help celebrate the life lived rather than the life lost.

Organization Tip

To keep track of all of these details, ask the funeral home for a day-of schedule of events, including times and locations. From there, you can assign each family member a different task, like gathering photos for a video tribute, creating a playlist of songs for the service, or selecting the clothes for your loved one to wear. This helps to ensure every detail is accounted for before the service even takes place.

While these steps may seem simple, it’s important to keep everything organized from the start to prevent stress for you and your family.

Download the Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements

Having to plan or pay for an unexpected funeral can be overwhelming. But, there’s a way for you to take care of yourself and save your family time, money and worry on your funeral in the long run—preplanning. The Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements offers insight on the emotional and financial benefits of arranging your funeral ahead of time. Download your complimentary copy today. 

Download our preplanning guide

Jim Busch
Jim Busch
Owner and president of our firm. Fourth generation funeral director and certified crematory operator, Jim is guided by his principles in faith, family and friends. He loves to hear feedback from our families. Proudly serving Busch families since 1986.

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