Who is Responsible for Funeral Arrangements?

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When a loved one passes away and has not pre-planned a burial, it is up to those left behind to make their final arrangements. This process can be confusing and unclear, especially as you’re also dealing with the emotional turmoil of losing a beloved friend or family member. In such instances, the question of who makes funeral arrangements often comes up. Is it a surviving spouse or a sibling? Is it the children or other next of kin? Is it the executor of the estate, if there is one?

Searching for the answers to these questions can be stressfulBurialPlanning.com offers some much-needed guidance when it comes to making funeral arrangements for a loved one, what forms that funeral planning may take, and what you can expect from the funeral planning process.

Who Makes Funeral Arrangements? It Depends.

Ultimately, the question of “who is responsible for funeral arrangements” doesn’t have one definite answer. There are a number of facets to consider.

In some instancesthe deceased may have designated a specific person or persons to undertake their funeral arrangements. If this is not the case, a family member may wonder if he or she is required to take on the responsibility — perhaps a spouse or only surviving child feels that if he or she doesn’t do it, how will it get done?  Every unique circumstance is different, and there is no legal or societal rule indicating who exactly must organize a funeral ceremony for the deceasedIt needs to become a discussion among the loved ones who remain.

Whatever the ultimate decision, the main concern when it comes to planning funeral arrangements typically comes down A) what the last wishes of the deceased were, and B) whether those last wishes should and even can be followed. No surviving family member should feel obligated to follow an unsafe request or a request that places an undue burden on whomever has the responsibility to undertake the acts of planning, organizing, and implementing a funeral or memorial service.

When There’s an Argument Over Who Makes the Funeral Arrangements

While it might not happen that often, sometimes the question of who should make funeral arrangements for a loved one can cause some conflict. When someone passes away without naming someone to handle their affairs, or when there’s a conflict between what a deceased loved one wants versus what their next of kin would prefer, there’s occasionally an argument over who is responsible for funeral arrangements or other related issues like the status of their estate.

In such instances, it’s best to take a step back and breathe. The death of a loved one is emotionally fraught, and there’s a good chance you or whomever else is involved isn’t quite thinking straight. If nothing else, it’s important to try to come together out of love and respect for the deceased and work to create funeral arrangements that both honor your loved one’s final wishes and satisfy the needs of everyone, family and close friends alike.

Typical Funeral Arrangement Responsibilities

If you’re the one who is making the funeral arrangements — or if you’re working together with next-of-kin like siblings, surviving spouses, or children and grandchildren — you’ll have several responsibilities. The first of them is to do your best to comply with any wishes or guidance set in place by the loved one who has passed away. If they left written or oral instructions, you’ll need to follow those first, if you can.

This process almost always begins with choosing a funeral home or cemetery that can accommodate your needs. This depends almost entirely on the type of burial or internment your loved one has requested. This can range from an expansive memorial service and burial to a simple cremation and ash scattering to anything in between. You can learn about the different types of burials here if you need more information on your choice or the choice of your loved one.

After this decision has been made, however, the work of funeral arrangement begins in earnest. There are still a number of responsibilities that you’ll have to address in order to lay your loved one to rest appropriately. These often include:

  • Writing an obituary 
  • Selecting a casket or an urn 
  • Selecting a grave marker and its inscription 
  • Choosing a cemetery 
  • Choosing a location for the memorial service 
  • Deciding on what type of memorial service if not specified by the deceased 
  • Choosing flower arrangements and a florist to provide them 
  • Picking photos or other media, if any, for display at the service 
  • Arranging transportation to and from memorial and burial site for family members and the deceased if necessary 
  • Choosing pallbearers if necessary 
  • Selecting a member of the clergy to officiate at the memorial service, the burial, or both, if warranted 
  • Selecting whether to hold a meal for funeral attendees and if so, where

In many cases, the funeral director of your chosen funeral home or a BurialPlanning.com associate will be able to work with you in making appropriate choices. Yet just because you’ve enlisted the help of an expert doesn’t mean you’ve surrendered your rights and responsibilities in making funeral arrangements for a loved on. Always remember that you’re the ultimate arbiter of what type of burial or memorial service to have, and that you can change your mind or alter plans until you feel satisfied that your loved one would approve.

The Final Answers on Final Arrangements

The question of who makes funeral arrangements for a loved one who has passed is never an easy one to answer. Even with the deceased leaving clear wishes behind, the tasks you’re now responsible for can feel daunting. There’s nothing wrong with relying on help when it is offered. Whether it’s from friends, family members, surviving next of kin, or even a funeral director, help in planning a memorial service and funeral can go a long way in honoring your deceased loved one’s wishes – and that’s what’s most important.

To learn about how to pre-plan a funeral, removing the burden from your loved ones by having it all arranged in advancedownload a free burial planning guide.

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