Call our 24hr careline

0800 0744 362

How to arrange a funeral

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy and there’s a lot to think about when making funeral arrangements, so it’s good to know there’s someone to turn to for support. Below you’ll find expert advice on planning a funeral, including where to start, choosing a funeral director, managing funeral costs, and more.

In this guide

Step one:

Obtain your death certificate

A death certificate is a formal record of a death issued by the Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages. To register the death, contact your Registrar within the local authority where the death took place or contact your local funeral director for help. We also recommend making use of the Tell Us Once service when registering a death. This service allows you to report a death to most government organisations in one go. 

Get to know exactly what documents you need to take with you to register a death. 

Find out more

Who can register a death? 

A death should be registered by a relative within five days of receiving the Medical Cause of Death Certificate. If it is not possible for this to be done by a relative, the death can be registered by the manager at the care home where they lived, a close family friend or the person arranging the funeral.

Do I need a death certificate to arrange a funeral?

You or your funeral director do not need the death certificate to start on funeral arrangements, however the death should be registered. But you will need a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the green form). This gives permission for a burial or an application for cremation. Your Funeral Director needs this, so that the burial or cremation can take place. It is important to note this form may be different if a cornor is involved. More information can be found on our What to do when someone dies page. 

Step two:

Decide who will arrange the funeral

Most funerals are arranged by a close relative or friend, with the help of a funeral director. You can also delegate tasks to close family and friends to make the process less overwhelming. People are often willing to offer support at a time of need so don’t feel like you need to go through the process alone.

Planning your own funeral?

It's also possible to start planning your own funeral if you're nearing end of life. It can be helpful and comforting to know that funeral plans are in place, especially if it makes practical sense to be involved in the planning process, or if you'd like to have your say on the personalisation of your funeral. 

Terms and conditions apply to funeral plans.

Find out more

Choosing a funeral director

A funeral director can help you with every step of the funeral planning process, from taking care of the deceased to arranging the actual funeral service. When choosing a funeral director, make sure they're part of either the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). These professional associations ensure that high standards of care are provided.

Our funeral arrangers will guide you through the process to help you say goodbye in a way that works for you. 

Find your branch

Step three:

Understanding funeral costs

Funeral costs can add up quickly and it can also be challenging to make financial decisions when coping with grief.  Understanding funeral costs can help you plan a memorable funeral without financial strain. 

Who pays for the funeral?

It’s important to understand who will pay for the funeral. Check whether your loved one had a pre-paid funeral plan or whether they had put aside any specific funds for their funeral. If not, check with the executor of the estate or the bank/ building society if they are able to release funds to pay for the funeral - this is known as a ‘grant of representation’. 

Managing funeral costs

There are lots of different costs to consider when planning a funeral. To manage this, it’s important to be aware of what's essential and what's optional, what services are included in various funeral packages, and the costs associated with different funeral types. If you decide to use one of our local funeral directors, there are different options to suit different budgets and preferences. Fees are discussed up front giving you absolute peace of mind. Some of the costs to consider include:

  • Care of the deceased
  • Funeral director professional services fees
  • Coffins and caskets
  • Third party payments (disbursements) such as doctors’ fees, crematorium charges and burial charges
  • Additional products and services such as funeral transportation, stationery or floral displays
Read our guide on managing funeral costs

Help with funeral costs

If there are insufficient funds to pay for the funeral, there are a number of options for financial support, including funeral payment from the Social Fund, Bereavement Support Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent's Allowance. If you're unsure about your options, you can visit this government webpage for more information.

Step four:

Understanding funeral types

Although there are many ways to personalise the funeral service or ceremony, you will first need to decide between a burial or a cremation. The most important considerations to help guide your choice are: 

  • Whether these are instructions in the will or funeral plan (although it's important to note that these instructions are not legally binding)

  • The type of funeral you want

  • Budget 

  • Enviormental impact 

Whether you choose a burial or cremation, there are different types of funerals to choose from, ranging from a simple celebration through to a traditional service with all the additional extras avalible.Your funeral director can guide you through the main differences or you can read more about burials and cremations here. 

Find out more

Types of funeral

Some of the funeral services available include:

Unattended funerals

This is a type of funeral where there's no ceremony or service, these funerals are simple and cost-effective.

Unattended funerals are often chosen if there’s a preference to hold a wake or celebration of life at home or at a later date in place of a more formal or religious funeral service at the burial ground or crematorium.

Attended funerals

This is a type of funeral where there’s a ceremony or service with friends and family, as well as the burial or cremation.

This is the most popular type of funeral as you have the option to personalise the ceremony and can accommodate large or more intimate groups.

How long after a death is a funeral?

A funeral generally takes place two - three weeks after death. This provides families and funeral directors with enough time to manage the paperwork and plan the funeral. In some instances this may take longer for example:

  • If a coroner's involved

  • Logistical reasons, for example if a relative needs to travel

In these instances, it’s not uncommon for the burial or cremation to be delayed, with the funeral service or celebration of life planned at a later time.

Step five:

Personalise the funeral service

Once you have decided on the type of funeral, it’s important to think about all of the little things that’ll make the service a unique celebration of your loved one’s life. Fortunately, many of these personalisations don't necessarily require a large budget. We can help you personalise the service so that it's a true reflection of your loved. Some personalisation options include: 

Floral tributes - We'll talk you through the options and help you choose the perfect flowers for the day of the funeral. 

Find out more

Memorials and gravestones - We have our own specialist stonemasons, HL Perfitt to help you create a lasting tribute.

Find out more

Order of service - We have a number of classic, floral and religious designs to choose from, or we can create an entirely bespoke set of stationery that includes photographs of your loved one.  

Find out more

Funeral cars & hearses -  With some funerals you can personalise the transport to get to the funeral. Choices include traditional hearses, motorcycle hearses and horse drawn carriages.

Find out more

You may also wish to include: 

  • Eulogy

  • Hymns, poems and readings

  • Music

  • Charitable donations

We also understand that religion, beliefs and values are integral to people’s lives and are an important consideration when planning a funeral. Our team has many years of experience in dealing with different types of funerals. 

Religious, multicultural and non religious funerals - Our team have many years' experience in providing funerals for all different beliefs and cultures.

Find out more

Green and woodland funerals - Green funerals are increasingly popular with people who choose to be laid to rest in natural environments such as woodland.

Find out more

We believe that every funeral, like every person, should be completely individual. Our experienced and friendly team is here to help you go through all of your options - from arranging the funeral and conducting the service, to creating a lasting memorial. We'll also be there to take care of things on the day, so you can focus on what really matters. Read our detailed guide on personalising the funeral service or get in touch with a member of our team.

Step six:

After the funeral

After the funeral service, it’s common to ask ‘what happens next?’ we've highlighted below some things to consider in the days, weeks and months after the funeral.

  • If you need someone to talk to, we can provide bereavement support services and counselling, free to use for as long as you need it

  • Deal with any necessary paperwork

  • Consider how you'd like to remember your loved one, you can choose to keep some of their ashes in a casket our urn, or have some made into a piece of jewellery

  • We can also help you create a lasting memorial to mark their final resting place

Terms and conditions apply to funeral plans – please ask for details.

East of England Co-operative Society Limited (IP1099R), Wherstead Park The Street, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk, United Kingdom, IP9 2BJ Reg. No. 11059352 is an Appointed Representative of Ecclesiastical Planning Services Limited Reg. No. 2644860, registered in England at Benefact House, 2000 Pioneer Avenue, Gloucester Business Park, Brockworth, Gloucester, GL3 4AW, UK, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 958152. The Financial Conduct Authority regulates pre-paid funeral plans only.