Funeral planning is a difficult process involving emotional stress, financial decision making and uncertainty. Without some guidance, the options and information surrounding funerals and arrangement planning can seem overwhelming at an already complicated time.

Here are some guidelines to help caregivers plan the funeral of an elderly loved one.

Many of these items can be arranged prior to death, to lessen the stress for the family at a time when they are grieving their loss.


You can choose and pre-arrange:

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  • Information for an obituary
  • A funeral director
  • Burial or cremation
  • The casket or cremation container
  • A crave marker and inscriptions
  • The location for the service
  • Type of service (memorial, wake, military, Jewish ceremony, etc.)
  • Flower arrangements
  • Photos that will be displayed
  • Funeral music and songs
  • What the deceased will wear
  • Scripture to be read
  • Memorial register or memorial cards
  • Transportation and funeral cars
  • Who will perform the eulogy
  • Who will read the scripture
  • Pallbearers

Final Planning

Other items cannot be pre-arranged, but must be taken care of following a loved one's death:

  • Ambulance transfer from place of death
  • Death certificate
  • Burial permit
  • Time and date for the service
  • Embalming and body preparation
  • Submit obituary

Funeral Costs

The FTC has mandated that the funeral providers must give you a statement of all costs of the funeral goods and services that you select. This is called a General Price List (GPL). In addition, the law enables consumers to select and purchase only the goods and services they want, rather than having to accept an entire package

Funeral costs can be divided into three basic categories:

  • The basic service fee: Funeral providers are allowed to charge this, and it can't be declined by the family. This fee covers services common to all funerals including the use of the home, the services of the funeral director and funeral home attendants, burial arrangement coordination (with a cemetery or other), securing permits, etc.
  • Optional service charges: Some optional services include transporting the body, embalming, times for viewing (or wakes), use of a hearse or limousine, burial container, cremation and interment.
  • Cash disbursements: This covers goods and services that the funeral home buys on your behalf, with your consent. It may include the purchase of flowers, clergy services, obituary notices, pallbearers and other service providers such as soloists or musicians.