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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Arranging a funeral

A funeral can be either by burial or by cremation. You can organise it with or without the help of a funeral director, and personalise it as much as you wish. In some cases the deceased may have planned their own funeral in advance.


Bear in mind that you can't finalise the date for the funeral until after the death has been registered. If the death has to be reported to the coroner, the date when the funeral can be held will be affected.

Taking the deceased's wishes into account

Remember to check the deceased's will or other written instructions for special wishes about their funeral or what should happen to their body. (However, the executor doesn't have to follow the instructions about the funeral left in the will.)

If there are no clear wishes it's generally up to the executor/administrator or nearest relative to decide whether the body is to be cremated or buried.

Funeral options

The only legal requirement in the UK regarding funerals is that the death is certified and registered and the body properly taken care of, by either burial or cremation.

Funerals outside England and Wales

You'll need permission from a coroner in the local district before a body can be moved out of England and Wales, including abroad. The rules are complicated but the coroner's office will be able to provide information. Also, there are specialist funeral directors who should be able to help in these circumstances (read more on funeral directors in the section below). The coroner will need at least four working days before the body is to be moved and will issue a removal notice (form 104), part of which is sent to the Registrar of Births Deaths & Marriages. Use the link below for more official information on this.

Using a funeral director

Many people choose to use a professional funeral director. Funeral directors can help at what is generally a stressful time, and should see that the deceased is dealt with in a dignified way, although there are other options which retain that dignity - there's more information on arranging a funeral without a funeral director below.

Detailed planning of the funeral

If you're using a funeral director they will help you with decisions such as.

  • where the body should rest before the funeral
  • time and place of the funeral (though this can only be finalised once the death is registered)
  • type of service (religious or other) and who will conduct it/contribute
  • how much to spend on the funeral
  • whether to have flowers or instead donate money to a chosen charity
  • where to donate flowers after the funeral
  • invitations
  • notice in the newspapers

Choosing a funeral director

Friends, family, clergy or your doctor may be able to recommend local funeral directors. Most local companies are also listed in the telephone directory.

Most funeral directors are members of one of two trade associations:

  • National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)

Member firms must provide you with a price list on request and cannot exceed any written estimate they give you without your permission.

National Association of Funeral Directors

618 Warwick Road
Solihull,  West Midlands  B91 1AA
Telephone: 0845 230 1343
Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors

Herts CM21 9DB
Telephone: 0845 230 6777
Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

If you're unhappy with the funeral director's service

If you're unhappy with the service, or the prices you're asked to pay contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or Trading Standards Department for advice. If the funeral director is a member of NAFD or SAIF, you can also use their conciliation services.

Arranging a funeral without a funeral director

You can arrange a funeral without the help of a funeral director. If you wish to do this, contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your Local Authority for advice and guidance. You can also get help and information from The Natural Death Centre.

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