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

How to arrange a funeral

If you need to arrange a funeral, this guide is to help you through the process - from choosing a funeral director to what you’ll discuss at the funeral arrangement appointment.

What to do first?

Choosing a funeral director is one of the first things to do after someone has died. They'll take the person who has died into their care and support you through the funeral arrangement process.

See our step-by-step guides outlining everything you need to do if someone has died at home, at hospital, at a care home or abroad.

What to do when someone dies

Choose a funeral director

To find a funeral director, research online, in a newspaper, or ask family and friends if they have recommendations. You may want to look at websites of a few different funeral directors to find one that’s right for you.

At this time, you can discuss funeral wishes and your budget and ask any initial questions you have.

Once you've chosen a funeral director, 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 just yet. You can still start to make funeral arrangements.

What is a coroner?

Often it will be in a person’s will who has the right to arrange their funeral. This person is appointed before the person’s death, and can be a spouse, a sibling, a child, or a friend. This person is legally referred to as the executor and is responsible for making the funeral arrangements and covering the costs of the funeral.

If the person who died didn’t specify anyone to arrange their funeral (in a will or otherwise), the duty often falls to the next of kin, such as a spouse. It’s the next of kin who’ll work with the funeral director to plan a fitting funeral. In some cases, the person who’s died may have left details around funeral preferences - many families will choose to follow the requests of their loved ones where possible.

In the case that there are no family members or friends to arrange a funeral, the local council will arrange a public health funeral. However, this is usually a last resort - funeral directors will do their best to locate family members of the person who has died to try and make funeral arrangements.

Legal support for wills & probate

A funeral director helps you with every step of arranging a funeral and will support and guide you through the process. They’ll make sure the funeral service is fitting for the person who’s died whilst meeting yours and your family’s wishes and budget.

We have funeral arrangers in our funeral homes who you’ll likely speak to as well. They’ll help you and the funeral director with aspects of the funeral arrangements.

Your local funeral director will:

  • meet with you to discuss your plans and ideas for the funeral or memorial
  • support you with paperwork and documentation where necessary
  • speak to relevant third parties such as florists and crematoriums and arrange the products or services needed
  • arranging the venue and the person who’ll lead the service
  • talk to you openly and honestly about funeral costs to help create a funeral service that meets your budget
  • 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

Funerals usually take place within 1 to 2 weeks after someone has died. However, timings can vary when arranging a funeral, as it depends on individual circumstances. This can be affected by:

  • availability of family and friends
  • availability of services needed for the funeral
  • coroner’s investigations

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

Booking the funeral arrangement appointment

Once the person who’s died is in the care of the funeral director, a funeral director or funeral arranger will call you to book the funeral arrangement appointment. The appointment is usually 2 hours and takes place within 2 days of this phone call.

You can choose to have the appointment in a funeral home, at your home or over the phone.

The funeral director or arranger will be able to help you with how to register the death and what will happen if the coroner or procurator fiscal is involved.

The funeral director or arranger will ask for some information to help start the funeral arrangements. They'll ask:

  • if the funeral is to be a burial or cremation
  • where you want the funeral to be held
  • if you know what type of officiant you’d like - for example, a priest, minister, humanist, imam or rabbi
  • if the person who has died had a funeral plan

You’ll be asked if you’d like a call from the bereavement notification service team. This free service helps you let organisations know that someone has died. They can help stop unwanted mail, prevent attempted fraud and give you guidance on probate and other legal issues.

At the end of the call, you’ll be given confirmation of the date, time and location for the funeral arrangement appointment, as well as the funeral director or arranger you’ll be meeting with. This will also be emailed to you.

Before the appointment

You might want to find out about the options available and start thinking about what type of funeral you want for the person who has died. You can choose from:

From finding out more about funeral costs to seeing what coffins are available, we’ve got lots of information that can help you. If you want a tailored funeral, you can start planning this online and choose to send your ideas to your local funeral director.

At the funeral arrangement appointment

At the appointment, the funeral director or arranger will take you through everything you need to decide on for the funeral. They’ll let you know what needs to be decided on that day, and what you can go away to think about. We understand that people grieve in different ways, so it's normal to go through a range of emotions in the arrangement.

The person who has died and their wishes

Your funeral director will ask you some questions to find out about the person who has died. By knowing a bit about the person in our care, we can offer you relevant products or services that will make the funeral as personal as possible.

The funeral director will ask whether they had any wishes for the funeral, such as if they wanted a burial or cremation. If they didn’t have any funeral wishes, we’ve got inspiration boards for funeral ideas that your funeral director will take you through in the arrangement.

Burial or cremation

If it’s a burial, we’ll need to know if there’s 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.

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 products we can talk you through to help best remember the person who has died.

Choosing the right funeral

They’ll talk you through the different types of funerals you can choose from, helping you arrange a funeral that will meet your wishes and your budget.

You'll also discuss:

  • 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

Caring for the person who has died

Your funeral director will ask whether you’d like to visit the person who has died in the private remembrance room, and whether you’d like the coffin to be open or closed. If the person who has died is in our care, they’ll then make an appointment for you to visit.

They’ll ask you what clothes you’d like them to be dressed in. If you’d like them to be wearing their own clothes, you can bring this to the funeral home up to 2 days after the arrangement appointment.

You’ll be able to decide if you’d like the person who has died to be embalmed. Your funeral director will be able to answer any questions you have about this.

What is embalming?

Funeral costs

At the end of the arrangement, you’ll receive an estimate of how much your chosen funeral will cost, but cost will be discussed throughout the appointment. If you feel things are getting expensive, or wish to keep costs down, just let your funeral director know. They’ll be able to offer alternatives to help keep the funeral within your budget.

Find out more about funeral costs

After the appointment

You can take some time to think or talk with family members about the funeral arrangements after the appointment. We can arrange a follow-up appointment up to 2 days after to confirm and finalise all details and pay for 50% of the funeral. We’ll ask you to bring:

  • clothes for the person who has died to be dressed in
  • registration documents such as the death certificate or cremation certificates
  • photos of the person who has died for stationery (such as order of service) and to help us prepare them for the funeral

If you’d prefer to have the follow up meeting over the phone or via email, you can do this. However, we’ll still need you to confirm final funeral arrangements and to bring in the above items into the funeral home within 2 working days.

If the coroner or procurator fiscal is involved, they’ll be in touch with you directly to confirm their findings. Once you’ve heard from them, let us know and we’ll bring the person who has died into our care. We’ll then arrange a follow up appointment to confirm details discussed in the funeral arrangement appointment.

Paying for the funeral

The arranging client will be responsible for paying for the funeral. 50% of the entire funeral costs will need to be paid within 48 hours of the funeral arrangement appointment. The other 50% will need to be paid no later than 21 days after the invoice date. You can pay this:

  • online in full or part of the remaining balance
  • at the funeral home with cash, credit or debit card
  • by phoning the funeral home with debit or credit card
  • at your bank or post office

Between the appointment and the funeral

If anything changes, we’ll keep you updated. If you’ve any questions in the meantime, please just call. The team at the funeral home will be available to help.

You’ll receive a phone call from your funeral director 1 or 2 days before the funeral. They’ll let you know what will happen on the day of the funeral and answer any questions you have.

If you’ve got questions to ask between this call and the funeral, call the funeral home. We want to make sure that your day is spent remembering the person who has died with those closest to you.

Funerals will take place shortly after the time of death, and centre around the coffin of the person that has died. Funerals usually are held at a crematorium, a religious building, a service chapel or a woodland burial ground.

Memorial services are to reflect on life, and can take place any time after death, even years later. These can typically be held anywhere you like, such as a church hall you could hire, or even at your local pub.

Start arranging a tailored funeral online

Use our online planner to see what options are available with a tailored funeral. You’ll be able to choose what you want to include and see how much the funeral might cost before you speak to one of our funeral directors.

Start planning a tailored funeral

Find your local funeral home

Enter your town or postcode to find a Co-op funeral home near you.