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If you want to plan ahead for your funeral wishes or plan a funeral for a loved one, the checklist below will help you in making important decisions.


To download a PDF version of this checklist, click here.


  • Choose the type of disposition you’d like:

  • Choose the type of gathering, service, ceremony, or memorial you’d like to have:

    • Visitation, viewing, wake, or rosary
      -Do you want a private family viewing or public viewing?
      -Do you want a wake at home or a visitation at the funeral home?
    • Celebration of life service personalized to reflect the life lived
    • Traditional funeral service
      -Do you want the body present or not?
      -Do you want the casket open or closed?
    • Graveside service or a service at the crematory
    • Memorial service (takes place after burial or cremation)
    • Home funeral service and/or burial
    • Green or eco-friendly funeral service
    • Scattering ceremony
    • Family gathering
    • Reception or fellowship meal
  • Choose options to personalize your event:

    • Location that reflects the person’s interests such as a park, a golf course, a lake, garden, beach, event center, theater, art gallery, church, or stadium. Choose an alternate location if you want to have the service outdoors in case of inclement weather.
    • Speaker such as a clergy member or funeral celebrant
    • Pallbearers, eulogist, assistants, and attendees
    • Catered or pot luck meal
    • Prayers, poems, or other readings
    • Songs, hymns, live or recorded
    • Memorial video set to special music
    • Monument, memorial, or virtual memorials, such as a grave marker, headstone, video tribute, or online memorial website
    • Memorial contributions to charity organizations


  • Choose the place of final rest:

    • Burial in a private cemetery, veterans cemetery, or on private property
    • Scattering of cremated body at sea, in a park, on private property, or in a memorial garden (with permission of local municipality)
    • Keepsake jewelry, such as cremation jewelry
    • Organ donation or anatomical donation
  • Choose a method of payment:

    • If you want to prearrange your funeral, you can opt for funeral insurance through a funeral home, which sometimes offers a guarantee of their current prices. Other options include a funeral trust or pay on death account.
    • If you are paying for services at the time of need, you can ask family members to help pay for different parts of the funeral or to contribute in different ways, such as bringing food or sending flowers. Sites like or can assist with crowdfunding to help pay for a loved one’s services if money is tight.


  • Choose a way to record your final wishes:

    • Contact a funeral provider to help you create a plan that ensures your wishes will be followed.
    • Complete a funeral planning guide.
    • Verbally share your final wishes (but do not rely solely on verbal instructions, as loved ones may forget or disagree on what you said you wanted!)
    • Put your wishes in a voice or video recording.
  • To assist loved ones:

    • Collect important documents and notify your next of kin about where they are held.
    • Store a copy of your will, marriage and birth certificates, veteran’s discharge papers, military service records, life and health insurance policies, social security information, and other estate planning documents where your next of kin can easily find them.
    • Write your own obituary or gather important biographical information for your obituary.
    • Keep a copy of your funeral plans on file with a funeral provider and notify at least two other emergency contacts of where your funeral will be held and where your final wishes are recorded.

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