Although it is not a legal requirement, we do recommend that you contact a funeral director soon after your loved one’s death. This would normally be on the day or the day after it occurs. A funeral director is able to collect and look after your loved one’s body and arrange for cremation or burial. Our Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Team have compiled some resources that you might find helpful, including a useful funeral planning checklist to assist you in the process. You can also contact a member of the chaplaincy team if you feel you would like to discuss this.
There may already be a pre-paid funeral plan in place which will tell you who the funeral director is going to be. They will make an appointment with you to discuss your wishes and all the arrangements for the funeral and burial or cremation can be made, including a discussion of costs. If you are concerned about paying for a funeral you may be able to get help with the costs, this is called a Funeral Expenses Payment.
Nowadays, some people choose to arrange things for themselves. However if you choose not to engage a funeral director you will need to arrange appropriate collection and transportation of your loved one’s body. You can get more advice about this from the Natural Death Centre or from the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your Local Authority.
Funeral directors are experienced in organising appropriate funerals for people of different faiths, and can arrange a minister for you. If you have a particular minister in mind then the funeral director can contact them or you can contact them yourself to find out their availability. A civil ceremony can be arranged through a Kent County Council or East Sussex County Council civil funeral celebrant. Civil services can be held anywhere that is not a religious building and can include a hymn or prayer if you wish. Civil funerals can be arranged through your funeral director or contact your nearest Register Office. The British Humanist Association can arrange secular funeral ceremonies that do not include prayers or hymns or you can also ask your funeral director about this.
Sometimes the person who has died has a will giving details about the funeral arrangements that they would like to be made. The next of kin is not bound to carry out every wish of the person who has died. In planning a funeral service it is important to think of your own feelings and the feelings of others, as well as respecting the wishes of the person who has died. The person or your family may wish to request donations to a charity like Hospice in the Weald, in lieu of flowers at the funeral. Charities can reclaim tax paid on donations if donors complete a Gift Aid form which is available from the relevant charity. Further information on this can be found here or via your funeral director.
It is important to find out if your loved one has a Will; this will say what should happen to any property and possessions and may discuss a loved ones wishes for funeral arrangements. The person who deals with everything owned by the person who dies is known as the personal representative (or the executor if there is a Will). The personal representative or executor may wish to deal with matters by themselves but a solicitor will be pleased to advise or handle the matter for you. A solicitor will make a charge for this service.