How to Plan Your Own Funeral

Written by Kim Wilhelm

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Last Updated 14 Apr 2024

Death is a certainty for everyone on Earth. You never know when the Good Lord will call you home. 

Making funeral arrangements after someone dies can feel overwhelming. You wonder if you’re making the right choices to honor the decedents’ wishes. You might have to sacrifice what they want because you can’t afford it, or skimp on services to save on costs

If you want your funeral done your way, you might want to plan your own funeral while you’re still here. We’re here to help you plan your own funeral, with a checklist and tips to help you make decisions.

How To Plan Your Own Funeral

There are several steps to planning your own funeral. Although the task may not be an easy one, planning in advance can help you craft your own legacy and ensure they honor your wishes when you’re called home to the Good Lord.

Choosing Your Funeral Type

The first step in your funeral planning is choosing your funeral type.

You can choose one or several of these options:

  • Funeral service: Occurs at the funeral home as a final send off, either with an open or closed casket.
  • Graveside service: Occurs at the gravesite, can happen after a service at the funeral home.
  • Memorial service: Happens after the burial or cremation, without the body present.
  • Celebration of life: A positive and happy affair for friends and family to honor your life.

Choosing a Place of Service

Although the funeral or memorial service typically takes place at a funeral home, you can choose another place that has meaning to you, such as a:

  • Place of worship
  • Cemetery
  • Family member or friend’s home
  • Park or garden
  • Community center

A funeral home is usually the most expensive option, but is also the most well equipped for services. You may be able to use another service place for a donation, especially if you’re a member of the community or church.

Decide the Details

With the type of funeral service and place decided, now you need to focus on the details for your own funeral. You can opt for a traditional funeral or tailor to your own preferences.

Consider whether you want a visitation or wake, which allows friends and family to pay their final respects. 

You may also want a reception, or repast, after the service. This informal gathering can happen at the funeral home, the home of a family member or your favorite restaurant.

Another detail to include when planning your own funeral is mourning events. You may have specific events in your culture or religion, or choose to have none at all. 

Plan Special Arrangements

Another reason to plan your own funeral is to make special arrangements around the funeral or memorial service. These funeral arrangements can be part of a traditional funeral or one that is uniquely yours.

Answering these questions can help you decide on your final wishes for your own funeral:

  • What music should play during and after your funeral service?
  • Who should give a eulogy at your funeral or memorial service?
  • Who do you want as pallbearers or during the procession?
  • Who will lead your funeral service as officiant or celebrant?
  • What prayers or readings do you want and who will read them?
  • Are there any special guests you want invited that your friends and family may not think to invite?

Determine Your Final Arrangements

One of the last parts of pre-planning your own funeral is determining your final arrangements. The funeral home or funeral director usually coordinates this.

Final arrangements can be:

  • Burial
  • Cremation
  • Green burial: A green burial is done in a cemetery that doesn’t use pesticides and embalming fluid can’t be used in the body.
  • Natural burial: Remains are placed in a biodegradable or eco-friendly urn, then buried in a natural burial site to decompose.
  • Burial at sea: Ashes are put in an artificial reef and placed at the bottom of the sea. 

If you choose cremation, will it be direct cremations with no services, burial in a burial plot, or an urn displayed by a loved one? When choosing burial or cremation, the cost may be a factor.

Consider the average funeral costs with burial and viewing is around $8,800, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). For a funeral with cremation and viewing, the average cost is around $6,500.

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Choosing Funeral Homes

It’s now time for choosing funeral homes, if it’s part of your funeral planning. When doing so, consider your location and long-term plans.

Although you can’t predict when and where you’ll die, choosing funeral homes in close proximity to where you live makes sense. However, if you plan to move at any point, you may want to consider national funeral homes. National funeral homes provide location flexibility that a local funeral home cannot. 

Here are some options that may work for you:

Once you’ve settled on a funeral home, ask about pricing and packages that will best meet your final wishes.

Assign Someone to Carry Out Your Final Wishes

With all the time put into funeral planning, you should put thought into who to assign to carry out your final wishes. If you’re using a funeral home, the funeral director can assist in the process. 

Choose someone you know will honor your wishes, like a child, sibling, trusted friend, or partner. Consider a secondary person to assist with funeral planning, just in case.

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Ways To Pay For Your Funeral Service

There are several ways to pay for your funeral service. Funeral costs can quickly add up, but with the right funeral planning in place, your loved ones can afford your funeral arrangements.

We advise against prepaid funeral plans for your own funeral, even if they offer monthly payments or other payment options. Inflation increases funeral costs, which could mean your family members get a shocking surprise bill to meet your wishes.

Instead, consider the estimated funeral costs for your funeral arrangements, and either save money in an account or buy funeral insurance

When planning your own funeral, you assigned someone to honor your wishes. You can make them the beneficiary of your savings account, so they get the funds to pay for your funeral services.

Another option is funeral or burial insurance, also called final expense insurance. With a funeral plan in place, you can buy final expense insurance to pay for final expenses, such as end of life plans, final medical bills, and your funeral services.

Final Expense Direct specializes in final expense life insurance. Buying a life insurance policy doesn’t have to be complicated, and we make it even easier.

Our agents work with a long list of final expense life insurance companies to get you the best price for the coverage you need to pay funeral expenses.

Call us or fill out our form online to find out how you can get your funeral expenses covered by a final expense life insurance policy.

Funeral Planning Tips

Funeral planning can take some time, especially if you’re choosing a traditional funeral with viewing and graveside service. Here are some funeral planning tips to help with the process:

  • Consider your loved ones’ wishes
  • Ask a family member or trusted friend to help you
  • Make your wishes known so they can honor you how you want
  • Factor inflation into rising funeral and cremation costs
  • Consider memorial service packages when funeral planning to save money
  • Write key points about your life for the obituary or write your own


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