Woman holding a rose and an order of service at a funeral

How to arrange a funeral

If you need to arrange a funeral and want to know what it involves, this guide is here to help you.

When to contact a funeral director

When someone dies, their death must be verified by a medical professional before a funeral director can bring them into their care. You don’t have to have registered the death for us to come, we just need to know that their death has been verified.

If someone is about to die, you can begin to arrange a funeral for them with a funeral director, if this would be helpful.

How to arrange a funeral 3 people

Choosing a funeral director

You’re free to use whichever funeral director you choose. You can find ones local to you by searching online or ask family and friends for recommendations.

When you’re deciding which funeral director to use, always ask about their prices. By law, funeral directors must have their price list in the window and on their website. Even though it can feel uncomfortable to talk about money, it’s important you know what you’re paying and that you can afford it.

Once you've chosen a funeral director, call them day or night, and they'll bring the person who has died into their care and the funeral arrangements can start.

Find your local Co-op funeral director

If the death has been reported to a coroner, the funeral director won’t be able to bring the person who has died into their care right away but you can still start the funeral arrangements.

What is a coroner?

Who can make funeral arrangements

The person who registers the death then has responsibility for arranging the funeral. This could be the next of kin, a family member or friend. If the person left a will, the executor could also take responsibility. The person named on the invoice from the funeral director will be the person responsible for paying for the funeral.

If there are no family members or friends to arrange a funeral, the local council will arrange a public health funeral. This is usually a last resort and funeral directors will do their best to find family members to try and make funeral arrangements.

Funeral arranger

What the funeral director does

A funeral director will help you with everything needed to conduct a funeral.

They will:

  • bring the person who died into their care and look after them until the day of the funeral
  • meet with you to discuss your plans and ideas for the funeral or memorial
  • support you with paperwork and documentation
  • arrange the funeral the venue and help you find the right person to lead the service
  • be open and clear about funeral costs so you know how much everything will cost
  • support you and your family throughout the arrangement process and after the funeral, helping you find bereavement support charities and services if needed
  • be there on the day of the funeral, making sure everything goes as planned

What happens at the funeral arrangement appointment

The funeral arrangement appointment usually takes around 2 hours. It can be done over the phone or in one of our funeral homes. You can make changes to the arrangement whenever you need to.

At the arrangement meeting we'll ask about:

  • when you want the funeral to be
  • the location of service or committal
  • cortege route
  • hearses and vehicles
  • coffins and caskets
  • who'll carry the coffin on the day
  • funeral flowers
  • stationery and favours such as order of service
  • funeral music
  • newspaper funeral notices
  • your chosen officiant for the service
  • catering
  • donations to charity

You can start to plan a tailored funeral online using our online planner.


We'll help you check if you need probate

If you choose Co-op Funeralcare, you‘ll get a phone call from our funeral support team. They’ll help you quickly understand if you need probate. Probate is the legal process of dealing with someone’s money, property and possessions after they have died. If you need help with this and instruct Co-op Legal Services to carry probate out, they could cover the cost of the funeral up front.

Co-op Legal Services get the money back from the ‘estate’ (the things that the person owned), later.

Not everyone needs probate, you only need it if the person who died:

  • owned a house in their sole name
  • had more than £20,000 in the bank

Check if you need probate.

If you’re the executor of an estate of someone who’s died and need more support, Co-op Legal Services can help.

How long it can take to arrange a funeral after someone dies

Funerals usually take place within 1 to 2 weeks after someone has died. This can vary as it depends on individual circumstances and can be affected by:

  • availability of family and friends
  • availability of services needed for the funeral, such as crematoriums
  • coroner’s investigations

Each funeral is different, and there’s no set rule for how long it should take to plan. Usually you’ll have one meeting with your funeral director followed by phone calls to keep you updated.

Different types of funerals

You can arrange whatever type of funeral you think is most fitting and one that’s affordable for you. It could be traditional, something more modern and personalised, a simple send off with no fuss or something greener. Or it could be a mix of all those things.

These are the different types of funerals you can arrange with Co-op

Find out more about funeral costs to know what to expect at the arrangement meeting. If you want a more tailored funeral, you can start planning this online and send your ideas to your local funeral director or share them with family or friends.

Start planning a tailored funeral

Burial or cremation

If it’s a burial, we’ll need to know if there is already a burial plot, or if you need to buy one. We can help with this. We can also help you with buying a headstone for burial plots, or if there’s an existing headstone that needs removing, engraving and re-fixing, we can help with that, too.

See our range of headstones and masonry

If it’s a cremation, we’ll need to know what you’d like to do with the ashes. Whether you’d like to keep, scatter or bury the ashes, we have a range of ideas and products we can talk you through to help best remember the person who has died.

What to do with ashes