Document final wishes and funeral service details

Plan for the Future

Family members should know whether or not you have already arranged or paid for funeral services. If you have specific wishes regarding memorial or funeral services, these should be documented in a place those instructions can be easily found.

Inform the person who will be responsible for making these decisions or inform them where they can find such information. Don't just leave it in the will because that document may not be immediately accessible. If your family does not know where this is stored, it’s unlikely they will find it in the days immediately after your passing.

Some of the specific requests related to memorial or funeral services include the following; evaluate them as you document your final wishes for loved ones.

Body Disposition

  • Burial
  • Cremation
  • Donation
  • "Green" burial options

Religious Affiliation

  • Observant
  • Secular / non-denominational

Service Location

  • Funeral home
  • Cemetery (graveside service)
  • House of worship
  • Event space / outdoor location
  • Home (family / friend)

Service Type

  • Reception / gathering
  • Viewing
  • Wake / shiva
  • Visitation

Attendance Criteria

  • Family only
  • Close family and friends
  • Extended family and friends
  • Anyone
  • Specific exclusions

Officiant

  • Funeral director
  • Religious leader
  • Family member
  • Friend
  • Other

Additional Considerations

  • Eulogies / readings
  • Songs / music
  • Donations / charity
  • Memorialization
  • Photos / video

Helpful Tips


There are several options for what happens to a body after a person passes away. Most people are familiar with cremation and burial, but other alternatives can be considered as well.

**For burials: **

  • Cemetery ground burial
  • Mausoleum above-grove burial
  • Lawn crypt entombment
  • Cremation with burial of ashes

**For cremation: **

  • Direct cremation
  • Urn kept at home
  • Scattering of ashes
  • Above-ground burial

**For other alternatives: **

  • Body preservation
  • Scattering/burial at sea
  • Alkaline hydrolysis

Personal Considerations


Do you have a will?


You can include information on your preferred final disposition and funeral services within it.

However, this may not be the best document to record such information as people may not look at the will until after organizing a funeral and final disposition.

You can allocate funds to cover funeral expenses in your will.


Consider getting one drafted.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on drafting a will, see the "Create an estate plan and will" section of the Guide.


If you have a will:

You can include information on your preferred final disposition and funeral services within it.

However, this may not be the best document to record such information as people may not look at the will until after organizing a funeral and final disposition.

You can allocate funds to cover funeral expenses in your will.

If you do not have a will:

Consider getting one drafted.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on drafting a will, see the "Create an estate plan and will" section of the Guide.


Do you have specific wishes for your final disposition?


Document these and discuss them with relevant family members.

Prepay for your final disposition services such as cremation or burial.

Store those documents and discuss them with family members so they know who to contact when you pass away.


Determine if you will leave this decision up to your loved ones and, if so, who can make these decisions.


If you have specific wishes for your final disposition:

Document these and discuss them with relevant family members.

Prepay for your final disposition services such as cremation or burial.

Store those documents and discuss them with family members so they know who to contact when you pass away.

If you do not have specific wishes for your final disposition:

Determine if you will leave this decision up to your loved ones and, if so, who can make these decisions.


Do you wish to be memorialized at a funeral home or in a specific manner?


Consider prepaying for that service and leaving clear instructions for your Executor and loved ones to review once you pass away. You can also discuss these plans with your loved ones now.


Ask your loved ones if they have specific services or ideas in mind.


If you want to be memorialized in a specific way,:

Consider prepaying for that service and leaving clear instructions for your Executor and loved ones to review once you pass away. You can also discuss these plans with your loved ones now.

If you do not want to be memorialized in a specific way:

Ask your loved ones if they have specific services or ideas in mind.


Have you prepaid for any funeral/final disposition services?


Make sure it is documented and your successors are aware or will be made aware easily.

Leave behind any instructions if your loved ones will have a selection of certain items to choose from so they can review this if you pass away.


Consider locking in the price of a funeral or memorial in advance.

Not only does this save money, but it can help your loved ones plan your funeral or memorial service in a timely manner.


If you have prepaid:

Make sure it is documented and your successors are aware or will be made aware easily.

Leave behind any instructions if your loved ones will have a selection of certain items to choose from so they can review this if you pass away.

If you have not prepaid:

Consider locking in the price of a funeral or memorial in advance.

Not only does this save money, but it can help your loved ones plan your funeral or memorial service in a timely manner.

Providers to Contact


Estate Attorneys Near You

Estate planning attorneys can help you plan for your incapacity or death. They can help you document final wishes with a Will that complies with your state’s laws.

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Plan for the Future