A Step by Step Guide: Be prepared. Plan ahead.

A Step by Step Guide: Be prepared. Plan ahead.

Few people think about their death. Most people wait until someone close has died before planning their own funeral. But making a basic plan is not as unsettling or difficult as you might think and the benefits can be huge.


You do not need to make decisions about all the details for your funeral, but by planning the aspects that matter to you most will give you peace of mind knowing that there will be fewer difficult decisions for your loved ones to make when the time comes.  The funeral is as much for them, as it is for you.  Planning the key aspects allows them to honour you in their own way too.


What to do now

1.  Record your wishes and preferences for your funeral
2.  Tell loved ones your funeral wishes
3.  Make a will
4.  Make a living will (to help loved ones carry out your wishes at the end of life)
5.  Pre-pay or save for your funeral


1.  Record your funeral wishes
If you’ve ever attended a funeral you’ll know that it is an emotionally charged and carefully choreographed event, containing several elements that you may not have considered before.  Every aspect of the service is deliberate because a successful funeral is not just a celebration of a life; it is also an essential part of the grieving process. Making key decisions now will help loved ones later.


2.  Choose your nominee
Make sure people know where to find the contact details for your next of kin or the person you nominate to deal with your funeral arrangements. You may want to talk this over with loved ones first.

Burial or cremation?
Be as specific as possible.

Where would you like to be buried or cremated?
Do you have a preference for a traditional or green burial?
If you choose cremation, would you like your ashes buried or scattered – and where?

Your funeral preferences
Do you want a lavish or a no fuss event?
Where you would like the service to be held – if you indeed want a service?
Do you have a religious preference?
Do you favour a particular funeral director?
Have you got a list of key people you would like to take part to deliver the eulogy, or carry the coffin?
What flowers would you like.  Or would you prefer donations to a favourite charity?

Before the funeral

Do you want to be brought home, or remain at home, before the funeral?
Do you want loved ones to be able to view your body?
How would you like to be dressed?

Personal touches

Record the small but important details that will help your loved ones celebrate your death in the most appropriate style.

What music would you like played at the funeral – religious, traditional or contemporary?
What about readings – do you have a favourite poem or passage from literature?


2.  Tell people your wishes
Make sure you let loved ones know where to find your funeral wishes when the time comes.  It’s also a good idea to tell your solicitor, who can incorporate your funeral preferences in your will.  You should be aware, though, that funeral wishes are not legally binding.


3.  Make a Will
A spouse, partner, children and grandchildren continue to be the main beneficiaries of wills, followed by charities and then pets. Yet, without a will in place, there’s no guarantee that your assets will be passed on as you wish. In fact all these beneficiaries could stand to receive nothing. Additionally, by not planning what happens to your estate when you die, means that you also run the risk of your beneficiaries paying more inheritance tax than necessary.

Don’t leave your legacy to chance.   Get a will.

To find an accredited solicitor to help you write your will go to The Law Society website.


4.   Make a Living Will
A Living Will refers to an Advance Statement or an Advance Decision, which allows you to specify how you wish to be cared for and treated at the end of life in the event you are unable to make decisions because you lack mental capacity. You can draw this up yourself, but you may want to consult a solicitor and your doctor to ensure your wishes are clearly expressed.

For more information on drawing up a Living Will, click here.


5.   Pre-pay or save
Paying or saving for the funeral in advance will be one less thing for loved ones to worry about after you’ve gone.

One option is to pre-pay your funeral. A pre-paid plan freezes the cost of the funeral now, and depending on the plan you buy will pay part – or all – of the funeral costs when the time comes.  Alternatively, look at other savings options, such as a Cash ISA or top interest-paying current account, to make the cost of your funeral more manageable.


Kim Bird is the founder of the comparison and review site About the Funeral and Editor of the bereavement support and funeral planning magazine, Day by Day.

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