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Planning your own funeral can give you the freedom to organise the funeral you really want, and the peace of mind that everything’s taken care of. It can also makes things a little easier for your family when the time comes.

Here, we’ve provided info on planning your own funeral, including tips from funeral professionals, how to record your last wishes and keep them safe, and different ways to pay for your funeral. We hope it makes planning your own funeral simpler.

Thanks to funeral professionals, Simon Pendlebury, Moira Tunnicliffe, Angela Roach, and David McNaughton for offering their advice for someone planning their own funeral.

Tips for planning your own funeral

There are a lot of things to think about when planning your own funeral. Answering the questions below should help to make things easier.

If you would like to be buried:

  • Would you like to be buried in a favourite outfit or with a personal item?
  • Who would you like to carry your coffin?
  • Where would you like to be buried?
  • Would you like a certain type of headstone?

If you would like to be cremated:

  • Would you like someone to look after your ashes?
  • Or would you like your ashes to be scattered in a particular location?

Type of funeral service

  • Would you like to have a funeral service before the burial or cremation?
  • Would you prefer a memorial service after the burial or cremation?
  • Is there a location you have in mind?
  • Would you like a religious or non-religious service?
  • Is there a particular faith leader and/or funeral director you’d like to use?
  • Who should be invited to the service?
  • Or would you prefer not to have a service at all?

Anything else?

  • Would you like to have a hearse?
  • What do you want people to wear at the funeral? Do you want a specific theme or colour to be worn?
  • Would you like flowers or music at the service?
  • Are there any readings or poems you’d like? And who should read them?
  • Would you like a wake or a gathering after the funeral service?
  • Do you want guests to send flowers? Or would you prefer them to donate to a charity?
  • Who should be responsible for organising the day?
  • What’s your budget and how will the funeral be paid for?

Documenting your final wishes

Once you’ve decided what you want, make sure you talk about the details with your family so they know what you want. It’s worth writing down everything you’d like. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a piece of paper or saved on a computer. The most important thing is that you tell a trusted family member where to find it.

Wondering whether you can just rely on your will? It’s helpful to add your funeral plans to your will. But writing them down separately is sensible just in case your will isn't read until after your funeral takes place.

Talking about your final wishes in advance with your family may not come naturally. It’s a difficult conversation to have. But it can make planning your own funeral service easier. And they’ll have a better idea of what you want when the time comes.

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"We decided to have the conversation early, to get it done and out of the way"

How to pay for your own funeral

You can put plans in place to pay for your funeral in advance. It isn’t essential. But if you’d like to, there are a few things you could do to cover the costs.

Set money aside

You could regularly set aside some money to help pay for your own funeral, if you’re able to. You could do this by opening a separate savings account so that it all goes into one pot. Just make sure your bank or buildings society will give family members access after your death. Most banks will freeze the account until a close family member provides them with a death certificate. They may also need a copy of the funeral invoice, so it’s worth checking how your bank would handle this.

Organise a pre-paid funeral plan

The benefit of a pre-paid funeral plan is that it allows you to pay for the funeral you would like at today’s prices. But you will need to pay for everything in advance. You can build your own funeral plan and compare costs for each option. Make sure that you check the terms and conditions so that you’re aware of any limitations on your plan. Some funeral plans may not cover everything required for your funeral such as burial costs. There could also be an increase in price if you choose a payment plan over a few months or years.

Take out an insurance policy

You could take out a life insurance or funeral insurance policy. Each will pay out a lump sum when you die. Your family could put this towards your funeral costs. But there will be different levels of cover so make sure you check which would suit your funeral plans and your budget. Keep in mind that you may also have to pay into this type of policy for the rest of your life.

Consider your estate

Your estate refers to everything you own. That could be a house, your savings, or your property. If you’ve organised a will, the named person responsible for organising your funeral will be able to use the value of your estate to cover your funeral costs. What if it’s not enough? They may be able to make a claim for a funeral expenses payment. They can check if they’re eligible for the payment by getting in touch with their local job centre plus or bereavement service.

Get more advice on planning your own funeral

Planning and paying for your own funeral right now can make it easier for your loved ones. If you’d like to talk through all your options, a professional funeral director can help. Use our directory of funeral directors to find someone near you.

Photo by T Leish on Pexels.