[FREE] Online Funeral Planning Guide: 15 Item Checklist


There are many different ways to plan a funeral. You might be tasked with planning a funeral for a loved one, or you might be taking steps to pre-plan your own funeral. Like with all things in life, there’s truly no one-size-fits-all method.

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However, you’ll quickly discover that there are many things to consider when it comes to planning a funeral. Whether you’re managing a loved one’s funeral or your own, there are a lot of decisions to make. 

Because it’s hard to keep track of everything in a simple way, we’ve created a free online funeral planning guide. This checklist is designed to guide you through your process of planning a funeral for yourself or a loved one. From logistics to arranging payments, the more prepared you are in advance, the better. 

Planning a funeral is always an emotional process. It’s also costly, and managing the overwhelm of it all is easier said than done. This is a time when you need to feel supported, so this free checklist is here to help. 

Checklist for Pre-Planning Your Own Funeral Online

Many people take the proactive step to pre-plan their own funerals. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones. Not only will they not need to make these decisions when they’re dealing with grief, but you can also cover costs in advance to relieve the financial burden. 

Items that can be arranged or ordered online

We’re lucky to live in a digital age where you can buy just about everything online, from caskets to flowers. These are the items that can be arranged in advance and ordered online. 

1. Type of service

First, you should decide the type of service you’d like when your time comes. This is something you can decide in advance. Most people choose from one of the following:

  • Funeral service
  • Memorial service
  • Graveside service
  • Celebration of life

Additionally, you can decide where you’d like to have your service. You can choose a religious place of worship, a local funeral home, someplace in nature, or even your home. Once you’ve made these decisions, talk to your family about them. You can also create and share an end-of-life planning account with Cake for free. 

2. Final resting place

Next, you’ll need to make decisions about your final resting place. This is also something you can arrange (and even pay for) in advance. You can choose from:

  • Traditional burial
  • Green burial
  • Cremation
  • Donation to science

If you decide on a traditional burial, you can pay to secure your grave plot in advance. Many families do this to ensure their family members are buried together. You can arrange to purchase a grave plot in a local cemetery by contacting them directly.

You can also prepay for any cremation or burial services in advance. You can even do this online. You’ll need to locate the service provider, whether they’re local or national. The majority of service providers have burial or cremation packages available in advance, and you can pay for things like the casket, burial vault, and preparations in advance. 

3. Choose a funeral plan

Aside from paying for and planning any final resting place, you can also choose and secure a funeral plan. A pre-paid funeral is a package of funeral arrangements you make in advance with a funeral home. These can be detailed, covering everything about the service, or more flexible. It all depends on your wishes. 

These plans are offered by local funeral homes, and they range in price from $10,000 to $25,000. If you have a funeral insurance policy, it could go towards this prepaid plan as well. While some funeral homes allow you to make these arrangements online, you might need to contact them for more information. 

4. Write or plan your obituary

Another thing you can arrange in advance is your obituary. It’s more common than you think to write your own obituary, and this makes a great writing exercise. 

If you’d rather not write your own, you can hire someone online or talk to your friends and family. Having an idea of the legacy you want to leave behind is an important thing to think about. 

5. Plan your online memorial

Creating an online memorial using an online memorial site is easy. Whether you choose to host a traditional funeral in person or a virtual funeral, you can plan all of this in advance. 

There are many free memorial sites you can use to create an online memorial in advance. However, note that you might need to pay an ongoing hosting fee for some of these tools. 

Items you’ll have to order or arrange in-person or on the phone

There are some things you can’t pre-arrange before the service online. You’ll need to make these arrangements on the phone, in person, or task loved ones with handling them. 

  • Flowers: It’s difficult to order flowers in advance online, but you might be able to secure a package with your funeral home or with a local florist. 
  • Food or catering: If you’re planning on catering at your funeral, it’s difficult for catering companies to schedule funerals too far in advance, especially if you’re not certain when your funeral will be. Leaving this to a relative or your funeral home is the best option. 
  • Officiant or celebrant: Because naming a date isn’t always possible, it’s also difficult to secure an officiant or celebrant in advance. 
  • Venue: Lastly, venues book funerals based on availability. While you might be able to pre-pay through a funeral home, this is something that will need to be secured in person or over the phone when the time comes.

The best way to make sure your wishes are honored is by talking to your loved ones. By talking to them about your budget and preferences, they’re prepared to step in to plan all of the last-minute details. 

Checklist for Planning a Loved One’s Funeral

If you’re in charge of planning a loved one’s funeral, this can be an emotional process. Use the checklist below to make sure you’re on track whether you’re making arrangements online or in person.

Items that can be arranged or ordered online

Luckily, it’s easy to arrange a lot of the funeral process online. This saves you time and money down the line, and it gives you access to more resources to guide your planning. These are the things you can arrange or purchase in advance online. 

1. Funeral home

You can select your funeral home online, and this is actually encouraged. Not only should you read online reviews and shop around, but you should make sure you choose the service provider that’s the best fit for your needs. 

To find a funeral home online, start with a local search. From there, read reviews, look for accreditation, and start contacting the right provider. 

2. Casket or urn

Depending on how your loved one wants to be laid to rest, choose a casket or an urn. This is a process your funeral home can assist with in person, but you can also shop online. Shopping online gives you more flexibility in budget and style. 

There are a number of places to buy an urn online. The same is true for caskets, and you can even find these at big-name box stores. A quick online search should reveal some of the top providers in your area. But you’ll also need to factor in the cost (and time) of shipping. 

3. Memorial marker or headstone

Did you know you can buy a headstone online? While you’ll need to check with your cemetery’s specific rules, it’s always an option to buy your own online to save money and find exactly what you’re looking for. 

As long as your memorial marker or headstone fits your cemetery’s requirements, they should be willing to place it for you for a fee. Again, factor in any additional shipping costs and times. 

4. Flower arrangements

Many florists now give you the option to make a purchase online. You can choose specific blooms, what’s in season, or something that was meaningful to your loved one. 

While your funeral home can put you in contact with a local florist, you can also shop online at national florists like 1-800-Florals and ProFlowers. Here, you can find wreaths, baskets, bouquets, and so much more.

5. Photo or video slideshow

It’s becoming increasingly common to display a photo or video slideshow at funerals. This is something you can easily purchase online if you’d prefer to use a template. There are a lot of great video templates on Creative Market

You can also use an online tool to create a slideshow yourself. Canva has a lot of free, easy-to-use templates, or you can use editing software. 

6. Memorial guestbook

A memorial guestbook is a printed book that guests sign at the funeral service or reception. It’s also a place to leave messages for the family, memories, and other well wishes. These are easy to find online on Amazon or on Etsy

7. Memorial website

A memorial website is a digital way to honor someone’s life and legacy. This is especially popular when not every close friend or family member can attend the service in-person. 

There are a number of online memorial website providers to choose from, and these range in price. You can do the entire setup process online in advance of the funeral. 

8. Officiant or celebrant

If you plan to have someone officiate or act as the celebrant for your loved one’s memorial service, this is also something you can do online. Many officiants have online booking tools. To find one near you, conduct an online search on Google or social media. From there, reach out via contact form or email. 

9. Funeral program

A funeral program is an order of service that’s printed and distributed to guests at a funeral. It’s also an important memento that’s worth holding onto. There are a number of free funeral program templates to choose from, and these can be created online easily. 

10. Catering

Last but not least, you can also organize catering online. This can be done through your funeral home, but you can also reach out to local catering providers virtually. The best way to do this is via email, and being as clear as possible about your guest list and funeral date. 

Items you’ll have to order or arrange in person or on the phone

Some things are easier to plan over the phone or in person. Here’s what you’ll need to do when the time comes.

  • Transportation of the body: After the death of a loved one, the first step is to secure transportation of the body. You’ll need to do this over the phone with a funeral home or coroner. 
  • Family transportation: If you also need transportation for friends and family to and from the service, this will need to be arranged over the phone. 
  • Documents: Lastly, if you need any documents in advance of the service such as the death certificate, burial permit, and so on, this is easiest when done over the phone or in person. 

Taking Care of Everything

While there are a lot of different things to worry about whether you’re planning your funeral or a loved one’s funeral, this is an act of kindness. This is a final opportunity to say goodbye and honor someone’s legacy, so make sure you keep all of the above in mind during the process. 

The good news is that it’s never been easier to plan in advance and to plan online. Gone are the days of driving around town searching for what you need. Planning can be as simple as going on your computer and making decisions from the comfort of your own home. And when time is of the essence, that is worth everything. 

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