Funeral Planning Checklist for Survivors: The Ultimate Guide

Here’s one of our most popular pages, and our members report it super useful. You could call it a “How to Plan a Funeral” list, or a “Funeral Planning Checklist”, or even a “Funeral Arrangements Checklist”, but we just call it the Survivor Checklist. It includes:

  • To Do Immediately After Death

  • Funeral Arrangements to be made

  • Facts to Find for Obituary

  • Other Things to Do Before Funeral

  • Documents to Locate 

  • Notify the Following

  • Bills To Be Paid

  • Things to do after the Funeral

To Do Immediately After Death

• Check for any written instructions for the body disposition, funeral plans and other details on

• Notify Funeral home (if necessary)

• Contact family, friends, and co-workers who may not be aware of the death. See your loved one's book for whom to contact.

• Gather information for obituary and contact newspapers

• Contact deceased’s employer 

• Take security precautions

• Assign a house sitter

• Remove valuable items from deceased’s house

• Forward mail

• Cancel newspapers

• Remove any jewelry from deceased

Funeral Arrangements to be made*

• Select clergy

• Choose funeral home

• Decide the location of the service

• Decide on place and time of funeral service

• Inquire about special religious services

• Choose a burial container

• Choose a burial site (find burial property documentation of ownership)

• Decide either outer burial container or crypt

• Pick out clothing for the deceased (if necessary)

• Choose scripture to be read

• Choose individual(s) to read eulogies

• Pick type of flowers and music

• Choose pallbearers

• Order a funeral limousine

• Find type of religious, fraternal or military service of deceased 

• Choose the memorial type and inscription

• Sign necessary papers for burial permit

• Choose a charitable organization(s) to receive donations

Facts to Find for Obituary

Many of these facts can be found in your loved one’s book.

• Given name

• Armed services number

• Date and birthplace

• Occupation and employer

• Mother’s maiden name and birthplace

• Father’s name and birthplace

• Those who have proceeded in death

• Survivors and relationship to deceased

• Hobbies, interests

• Schools attended

Other Things to Do Before Funeral*

• Meet with funeral director and clergy

• Arrange care for infants or other minor children

• Greet friends and family at service

• Meet out-of-town attendees

• Write a eulogy

• Search for special wishes included in will

• Keep a list of callers, flower tributes and donations

• Provide lodging for out-of-town attendees

• Answer phone calls and letters 

• Pick out clothing for surviving spouse and children

• Prepare your home for family and friends

Documents to Locate 

Check your loved one’s book to see if they left any information on where to find these documents.

• Will

• Birth certificate

• Social Security card

• Military discharge papers

• Insurance policies (health, life, property)

• Citizenship papers (if appropriate)

• Automobile title

• Property deeds

• Marriage license

• Income tax returns (past two years)

• Disability claims (if any)

• All documents necessary for deceased’s taxes (ask your accountant)

Notify the Following*

• Attorney, accountant, executor of estate

• Cemetery and funeral home

• Family members

• Close friends

• Doctor

• All insurance agents

• Religious, fraternal, civic organizations

Bills To Be Paid*

• Funeral director

• Family burial space

• Clergy

• Interment/burial services

• Florist

• Memorials

• Funeral services

• Limousines and funeral coach (hearse)

• Refreshments

• Clothing

• Medicine and drugs

• Musicians

• Others (rent, mortgage, taxes)

Things to do after the Funeral

• Obtain 10-15 death certificates

• Contact your local Social Security Office

• Call all possible pension or retirement services and insurance agents of descendant     to inquire about death benefits

• Order thank you cards for flowers, donations, etc.

*All are only applicable if necessary. Check your loved one’s book to determine which arrangements to make.