Commonly Asked Questions About Planning Funeral Services

Planning a funeral is not a very pleasant task but it is a necessary one that most people will face at one time or another. Because it's not something that people do very often, you may have some questions about what is involved in the process. While each funeral and each funeral director will be different, you might note some commonly asked questions about the process of making these arrangements. Discuss these with a funeral director so you know what to expect when you need to plan these funeral services for someone.

1. Who can plan a funeral?

The wishes of family, friends, children, parents, and clergy can be kept in mind, but the person with legal authority is the person to actually make the final decisions about a funeral service. This often means a person's surviving spouse, their designated next of kin, or the executor of their will. A funeral director can tell you who has the final say according to the law when you're ready to plan a funeral, and note that the funeral director needs to uphold that person's wishes in order to protect themselves legally.

2. When can a funeral be planned?

You can preplan your own funeral long before you think you're sick or at risk of dying, but when planning a funeral for someone else, typically there needs to be an official pronouncement of death. If someone dies at home, a member of law enforcement or medical personnel may often make that pronouncement. In a hospice or medical setting, there are medical staff who are authorized to make that pronouncement. Your funeral director can advise you on who may be authorized to do this, but note that in most, if not all, cases, they will not allow you to start planning a funeral just because someone is in the hospital or hospice care.

3. Can a funeral be planned even if someone is cremated?

Most funeral homes will plan a funeral along with cremation services, in whatever way works best for your preferences. For example, you might opt to have a viewing of the body during a funeral and then have the remains cremated. You might opt to have the cremation done first and then simply have photos of the deceased and even their ashes on display instead of the body. Having the remains cremated doesn't mean that you're not allowed a funeral service, and a funeral director can make whatever arrangements are best for you.