Organisations to deal with arranging someone else’s funeral

Mar 28, 2017

If you have suffered a recent loss and have found yourself suddenly in charge of organising a funeral as well as dealing with your own grief, it can be extremely overwhelming, especially as it seems there are a lot of people to deal with in getting a funeral arranged, but with none of the cheer that you’d usually feel when organising an event! We have put together this guide to help you organise the list of organisations and people you may need to contact, to try and make some of the process easier!

Funeral Planning Company
If your loved one arranged their funeral before they passed away, then a lot of the work and stress has been taken out of the process for you, as typically one company will handle everything in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.

Typically, funeral plans will have been drawn up and paid for in advance that will include the service, flowers, music, burial plot/cremation (usually a contribution to rather than the entire cost), and the cost of the minister or celebrant overseeing the service. All you will need to do is find the paperwork relating to the funeral plan and contact the company to set the process in motion. Please bear in mind though that not all plans cover these service; some cover more than others depending on what the deceased chose to pay for before they died, so you need to ensure you know what is covered and what is not.

Registry Office
You’ll need to register the death of your loved one with 5 days (8 days in Scotland) under “normal” circumstances, but there are exceptions. This takes about 30 minutes so you’re best off making an appointment.

You will need to take the medical certificate, signed by a doctor, showing the cause of death, and also ideally a personal bill or paperwork proving the ID of the deceased, such as their birth certificate, council tax bill or passport.

Once you have registered the death, you will get the “green form” that allows you to proceed with a burial or cremation – this is the Certificate for Burial or Cremation.

You will also get a Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8). This needs to be filled out and sent off if the deceased was receiving a state pension or benefits.

If the death has been reported to the coroner then you cannot register it until the coroner has finished their investigations.

If the death happened on a foreign aircraft or ship, then the death has to be registered in the country the vehicle is registered in.

Different rules also apply to deaths that occur in Scotland and NI.

Funeral Director
You don’t have to have a Funeral Director but having one in place takes away a lot of the stress in getting everything organised. Funeral Directors have a broad role in the whole service and can arrange a lot of the things you may want, and may not have even realised were needed, such as:

  • Transport of the body to the church/crematorium and burial location
  • Organisation of the coffin or casket to be used
  • Sorting out and arranging flowers and floral tributes
  • Order of Service sheets
  • Musical arrangements, including piped music and even live bands

Funeral Directors are there to make sure both your wishes and the wishes of the deceased are reflected in the whole service, so you can pick and choose which parts you’d like them to be involved in, and which parts you’d rather arrange yourself.

Church & Minister
You will need to contact your local parish church to arrange the funeral service (and subsequent burial, if this is to take place). The church minister will arrange an appointment to sit with you and talk you through the process of the service (and burial) in a kind and sympathetic manner. If the service is to be held in the church but the burial or cremation at a different location, the minister and funeral director will be able to help you arrange this.

Depending on whether the deceased has left any wishes for the service, the minister will also be able to help you arrange aspects of the service such as the bell ringers and organist, if you so desire.

Funeral Celebrant   
If the service is not going to be religious, then you may want to look for a Funeral Celebrant. Like a Funeral Director, you do not have to have a Celebrant, but having one in place will ease the burden for you leading the celebration of life.

Your Funeral Director may be able to recommend a Celebrant, but also the British Humanist Association recommend a select number of Celebrants who will undertake the service. Your Celebrant and Funeral Director can then work closely together to get all of the arrangements in place.

If your loved one is to be cremated, then you will need to ensure this is arranged at a local crematorium. You are not limited to Parish area but for the ease of getting everyone to the service, a local one is probably best.
If you are using a Funeral Director and/or Celebrant, they will be able to liaise with the Crematorium directly to arrange the cremation and service, and from there work out transport arrangements, Order of Services etc.

Natural Burial Ground
If your loved one wished to be buried in a natural burial ground then this is something you’ll need to arrange if they haven’t already. This is fast becoming popular in the UK and there are over 250 around the country to choose from, but it may be best to stay local so mourners can easily get to the burial, and also for visiting in the future.

Coffin Supplier
If you would rather find a coffin supplier of your choosing, or you want to arrange for the deceased to be buried/cremated in a non-traditional coffin, then you’ll need to find a coffin supplier who can meet your requirements. There are many types of coffins available from the traditional wood with handles to eco-friendly cardboard coffins, so it may be best to have an idea in mind before contacting them as to what you would like.

Transport Company
If you’re not using a Funeral Director then you’ll need to sort out how to arrange the transport of the body from the morgue to the church/crematorium and then from there to the burial ground if needed. You’ll need to ensure they have a suitable vehicle – it doesn’t have to be a traditional hearse but it does need to be large enough to carry the body in the coffin through the public roads safely and not on show.

If you want something more elaborate, you can also look for transport companies who offer service such as horse and carriages, rider-less horses and limousines.

Family members/friends
This is something you’ll probably want to do personally if you would like to have family members/friends read out a poem or tribute during the service. Obviously a lot will depend on how well you know them and whether or not they are open to the idea – they may have even arranged it in advance with the deceased, so it’s best to approach this situation with honesty and tact.

If you would like live music to be played at and during the service, you’ll need to arrange a musician/band to play. Others prefer piped music, and others prefer silence, so really this is a personal choice.

A Funeral Director can either arrange or recommend a florist to provide tributes if you want them – others prefer to take donations for a specific charity in lieu of flowers. If you do want flowers as part of the day, then you’ll need to arrange with a florist beforehand as to decorating the church/crematorium if you want them to, and any other floral tributes such as flowers to adorn the coffin, to be laid out for mourners to view and also flowers you could take home after as a nice memory.

You may want to put an obituary in the local paper. If so, you’ll need to contact the newspaper office and pay for an announcement in the Deaths section.

If you are directly responsible for any children who may be attending the funeral then you’ll need to arrange for them to have authorised absence from school if they are under 16 and the funeral is to be on a weekday in term time.

Printing Company
If you want to design your own Order of Services, you may want to look for a bespoke printing company to do this for you.