Arranging a Funeral

Arranging a funeral - a step-by-step guide

If you are visiting this page because someone near and dear to you has passed away, we are very sorry for your loss. With all things in mind, we hope this guide will inform and help you in arranging a funeral and the paperwork side of things you may have to think about at this time.


This page contains many of the practical tasks, goods and services to consider when you are in the process of arranging a funeral. The highlighted links will guide you to further reading about many of the topics we talk about.


Once you have commenced the process of arranging a funeral, our guide to planning a funeral service has useful information on organizing the ceremony or celebration of life service itself.


Choosing a funeral director


When looking for a funeral director, pin-pointing  an established and experienced funeral director can help unburden you from the majority of the stress of arranging a funeral, so you can focus on the things that are more important to you.


An experienced funeral director’s priority is to listen, comfort and support the bereaved, carry out their wishes and guide them through all the complicated steps they may have to take further down the road. Whether you want a full traditional funeral, a unique celebration of life, a green burial or something low-key, a good funeral director should be able to help, or at least refer you to a funeral director that does.


Just like all families, for the most part every funeral home is unique, so you may find it helpful to compare funeral directors to find the funeral home ideal for you and your family. 


When it comes to a funeral, anyone can arrange a funeral with a funeral director, regardless if they’re a family member or not. In most cases, this responsibility is usually taken by a close family member or the spouse.


Many funeral directors can aid families who wish to arrange their loved one’s funeral independently, with any of the elements they need support with, such as preparing someone for their funeral or funeral transportation. 


Experienced funeral homes are on call 24 hours a day, around the year. They have experience in listening to people at very difficult times and can help guide newly-bereaved people through the necessary steps they have to take.


At Neo, we have a dedicated care team ready to assist you with anything you need. You may give us a call on 0808 196 2140, send us an email at:, or jump on the online chat.


Providing details about the person who has died


Before a funeral director can fully begin arranging a funeral, they will need certain information about your loved one. A funeral cannot take place before registering the recently deceased’s death, most of the time something done by a relative, but a big portion of a funeral director’s role is to undertake other necessary administrative paperwork involved in arranging a cremation or burial. The death will need to be registered at a registrar’s office. This varies from council to council as well as across borders in the UK.


Your funeral director will need to know:

  • The full name of the person who has died
  • Their date and place of birth
  • The full address of their last residence
  • Details of their place of death
  • Whether or not they had a pacemaker
  • If there are any personal belongings they should be aware of
Funeral wishes


Many people believe that a funeral is an important first step in coming to terms with the loss of someone and grieving for the person who has died. A good funeral director aims to ensure that the funeral arrangements enable families to focus on their loss, whether they choose to remember the person who has died with a celebration of their life, or choose a service that reflects the sadness of their loss.


Some people are aware of what their loved one would have wanted, such as cremation, for instance, or a green burial. They may have left a funeral wish-list, in a written document or will, about their funeral choices. There is no legal obligation to carry out spoken or written funeral wishes if it is difficult to do so. Many people take personal comfort in fulfilling a funeral wish for the person who has died, no matter how small.


If your loved one had a life insurance policy or funeral plan they may have already arranged and paid for many of the important elements of their funeral with a local funeral director. You may already know about a funeral plan they had, or they may have left details about it in their will. Bank statements might also provide clues about funeral plan payments someone made. Industry regulator The Funeral Planning Authority has a helpful search tool for tracing funeral plans that were taken out with registered providers. It also provides information about how to begin making arrangements when you have a funeral plan in place.


How soon after someone dies does the funeral happen?


In some cases, a person’s religious faith will determine how soon after their death the funeral must take place.


It’s quite common for a funeral to take place a week or more after someone has died. With more and more families living considerable distances apart, many people plan a funeral to give plenty of time and notice, in order that everyone is able to attend.


Many crematoria and places of worship have ‘in-demand’ and quieter times of day or week. At many crematoria, Fridays can be a particularly busy day of the week, for instance. Your funeral director will be able to help you arrange a fitting date and time for your loved one’s funeral and reception. We have a guide to cremations if you are planning a cremation and our Crematorium Directory may help you in your search for a suitable funeral venue.


If you wish to repatriate your loved one to another country for their funeral, there are many specialised funeral directors who can help you to arrange this. They will be able to assist you in the same way as any other funeral director, but also help guide you through the legal process of repatriation. Specialist funeral homes like this can also help the bereaved through the complicated paperwork involved in bringing a loved one who has died overseas back to the UK.


Looking after the person who has died


After someone dies, the funeral home will arrange for their ‘removal’ from the family home or place where they died, to prepare them for their funeral. The people who do this understand that it can be a very difficult time for the person’s family. They do their best to make this process as reassuring as they can for the bereaved and will treat the person who has died with dignity and respect.


Modern funeral homes have cold facilities where the person who has died can be looked after until the day of their funeral. This also enables families who wish to visit their loved one to spend precious time with them before the funeral. Some funeral homes have dedicated chapels of rest where families can do this, while many can also arrange for the person who died to spend time at rest before the funeral at their family home or place of worship.


For some people, paying their respects like this is an important part of planning a funeral service. Some people appreciate periods of time spent in quiet contemplation with their loved one, while for others, a formal visitation in a chapel of rest gives a wider group of friends and relatives the opportunity to say goodbye.


Many funeral directors offer embalming, a chemical procedure which helps temporarily preserve a person’s body and helps restore their appearance.


Whether or not you choose embalming or to view your loved one, the funeral director will ensure that they are washed, groomed and carefully dressed in the clothes you select for them to wear for their funeral.


When planning a funeral, some people choose for their loved one to be smartly dressed and groomed, while others may follow a loved one’s wish to be buried in a favourite old outfit, or even a superhero costume.


Coffins, funeral cars and funeral flowers


A funeral director can liaise with people and organisations that supply goods and services, ranging from coffins, urns for cremation ashes and funeral cars. They can help you pick floral arrangements and you can check our guide to funeral flower arrangements as well. They can help book venues and celebrants as well.


There are many kinds of coffins available. Options range from inexpensive cardboard coffins, to traditional coffins in a variety of classic woods, beautiful woven caskets, wool shrouds and bespoke, themed and personalised caskets. A good funeral director should be able to provide a wide variety of choices for your consideration when you are planning a funeral.


The funeral director can also discuss funeral transport for mourners and may have their own fleet of funeral cars, or be able to arrange for an alternative kind of hearse.


Our helpful articles about planning a funeral service provides much more information other things to consider when you are arranging a funeral. From popular funeral hymns and poems for a funeral, to the many ways in which spirit, faith and individual personality can play an important part in arranging a funeral service.


Compare local funeral directors now to begin making funeral arrangements for your loved one.

Repatriation of a Loved One for a Funeral Abroad
How to arrange a funeral for your loved one outside the UK


If your loved one died in the UK, but expressed a wish to be buried in another country, you will need to make arrangements both at home and in the funeral destination abroad.You will encounter a number of legal requirements that need to be met before you make these arrangements.


Repatriation of a loved one abroad for a funeral


Although you can ask any funeral director to assist you with these arrangements, some firms specialise in repatriation and have extensive experience of working with certain countries, airlines and the paperwork involved.


Before you can repatriate someone who died in England, Wales or Northern Ireland abroad, you must notify the coroner who oversees the local area where your loved one died. The first step is to fill in a Removal Notice (form 104), which you can find on local authority websites. In Scotland, the Procurator Fiscal should be notified.


It is a good idea to check with your funeral director before you make any arrangements.


To find the correct authority in your region, visit the below links:

Approval is also needed whenever you want to transport a loved one between countries within the UK. For example, if you are in England or Wales, you would need permission to fly your loved one to Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.


Bear in mind that you may need to allow time for a post-mortem examination if required.


There is a legal requirement for your loved one to be embalmed before they can be transported. Other conditions include transporting your loved in a zinc-lined coffin. Again, this is a legal requirement and can be very costly.


There are different rules and requirements, however, for different airlines. As with any flight, the prices can vary depending on the destination, the time and date of the flight and the airline.


The cost of the documentation needed to transport your loved one can vary significantly. Beyond your local coroner’s approval, the embalming certificate and other documents, you will need to collect the correct documentation from the destination country. The documentation is usually required on arrival at the destination country. Failure to provide these documents may result in your loved one being detained.


Repatriation of ashes abroad for a funeral


Repatriating the ashes of a loved one from one country to another is a more affordable alternative. By sending the ashes of a loved one, you forego the expenses of embalming and transporting them in a zinc-lined coffin.


What’s more, this alternative is more convenient, as some airlines even allow you to transport your loved one’s ashes in passenger aircraft as part of your hand luggage. You should consult the airline along with the embassy of the country you are traveling to for specifics on how to travel with human cremains.


Despite this relative convenience, you may still need some documentation, including the Death Certificate, the certificate from the crematorium and authorisation from the consulate of the destination country.


The repatriation documentation required is dependent on the laws of the destination country. Therefore, it is advisable to discuss your plans with your funeral director and the consulate of the country to which you want to transport your loved one.

The Cost of a Funeral
Information on the costs involved in arranging a funeral


According to the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2021, an average funeral in the UK is *4,184. The actual cost of a funeral will depend on where you live in the UK, any extra elements you choose to include, and whether you choose a burial or cremation for your loved one.


This guide to the cost of a funeral explains all of the expenses you need to consider when arranging your loved one’s send-off, how a funeral director can advise you, and where you can find help with funeral costs.


  • What are funeral director fees?
  • What are disbursements?
  • What are burial costs?
  • What are cremation costs?
  • Who can help with funeral costs?
  • Which funeral costs are optional extras?
  • What is the cheapest type of funeral?
  • What is the cost of a funeral for a child?

If you are arranging a funeral for a loved one it is very helpful to compare funeral directors to find the right one for you. You can choose from fixed-price funeral packages or arrange a bespoke funeral with individually-priced services and products.


What are funeral director fees?


Funeral directors charge fees for the services they provide while handling the practicalities of your loved one’s death and arranging their funeral.


Funeral directors support bereaved families by managing the funeral arrangements, including much of the essential paperwork and practical arrangements of collecting and looking after the person who has died. These services can be very helpful and reduce your stress at such an emotionally difficult time.


Many funeral directors provide detailed information about their services and prices on their websites. It can also be helpful to read reviews of funeral directors by other families who have previously used their services, so that you can make an informed decision on the best funeral director for you.


If you are planning to repatriate someone who has died for a funeral overseas the costs can be even more difficult to predict. The procedures, paperwork and costs in the UK and the destination country can vary a lot. This is also true if your loved one died abroad and you would like to bring them home to the UK for their funeral. There are several funeral directors throughout the country that specialise in repatriation.


You can also choose to have your loved one buried at sea, but this is only possible at designated sites and a special licence from the government is required.


What are disbursements?


Disbursements are the costs of a funeral that the funeral director collects on behalf of third-parties, such as florists or celebrants. The funeral director will liaise with these providers to arrange the cremation or burial of your loved one, and everything else you need for a fitting tribute to them. Disbursements are added to the total funeral bill, but your funeral director should provide a clear breakdown of all of these costs before you agree to them.


Here is a list of common disbursements:


  • Burial fees
  • Doctors’ fees (death certification)
  • A funeral celebrant or religious leader to perform the service
  • Funeral flowers
  • Death notice/obituary
  • Order of service
  • Music that is not already licenced by the crematorium
  • Catering for the reception or wake
  • Venue hire for the reception or wake

It is important to remember that there are several costs, such as registering a death and purchasing medical certificates, that are not the responsibility of funeral directors.


What are burial costs?


In 2019 research revealed that the average cost of burial in the UK was £1,724.70**, but this varies by location and the popularity of a cemetery within it. This cost is based on the price of the internment fee for an adult resident and exclusive right of burial with a 50 year lease. The cost of burial in a cemetery for a non-resident can be twice as expensive. Burial in private cemeteries and natural burial grounds can often be more expensive than in ones owned by churches or councils.


What are cremation costs?


Other research showed that the average cost of cremating someone who has died in 2019, including a basic service, before funeral directors fees and disbursements and doctors’ fees, was £792.57**. This is less expensive than a burial, but the addition of funeral directors’ fees, flowers and other disbursements increases the total of the funeral by several thousand pounds. The specific cost of a cremation depends on whether the crematorium is public or private, and the time and duration of the ceremony.


There are additional costs for buying an urn, which our guide to choosing an urn discusses, or other memorial for your loved one, or burying their ashes in a Garden of Remembrance.


A burial plot for ashes in a cemetery with a 50-year lease can cost £100-£1,700. It is possible to buy larger plots for two or even four people. Some crematoria also charge for scattering ashes.


There are many other options for preserving ashes, from scattering them at sea or ingraining them in a vinyl record.


Who can help with funeral costs?


Help with funeral costs is available from several sources, such as your loved one’s estate, the government or charities.


Your loved one’s estate


If your loved one had enough funds in their estate, their funeral expenses can be claimed from it during probate. If they died without leaving a will, a bank statement could provide you with information about funeral plans, insurance policies or other assets your loved one may have had.


Banks and building societies will freeze or close individual accounts until the estate has gone through probate and they receive a Letter of Administration to open up access to the funds. Some funeral directors will allow payment to be delayed until your loved one’s assets have been unfrozen, but if not there are a few other options.


Funeral Expenses Payment


You might be eligible for the government’s Funeral Expenses Payment. Eligibility depends on your relationship to the person who has died, your financial resources and whether you receive particular benefits.


  • Pension Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Tax Credits

The value of your loved one’s estate is considered in the means-test for the Funeral Support Payment.


Budgeting Loan


Budgeting Loans are small, interest-free loans that are repaid directly from your benefits. Your eligibility is dependent on whether you or your partner have been receiving one of the following benefits for the past 26 weeks:


  • Pension Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can apply online for a budgeting loan. If you are in Northern Ireland, you must apply for it via NI Direct


Veterans UK


If your loved one died as a result of serving in HM Forces or was receiving a War Disablement Pension before they died, Veterans UK will contribute to the cost of a simple funeral.


To check eligibility criteria, visit Veterans UK or call their dedicated bereavement line on 0800 1693458.


Benevolent Fund


Depending on your loved one’s occupation, a benevolent fund might be able to help with the cost of their funeral, and provide additional financial and emotional support.


It is possible to arrange a funeral yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so. It can be quite complicated if you have never done it before, so it is a good idea to ask a funeral director for advice before deciding to proceed.


Public Health Funerals


You are not obliged to pay for someone’s funeral, even if you are their next-of-kin. Every local authority has a statutory duty to provide a public health funeral for someone whose closest relatives cannot, or refuse to, pay for it. This might be the case if you are estranged from someone, or did not previously know that you were their next-of-kin.


Which funeral costs are optional extras?


There are a few other costs to consider when you are arranging the funeral for a loved one that are not typically included in a funeral directors fee.


  • Keeping your loved one in a Chapel of Rest before their funeral
  • Presentation of your loved one for their funeral, including embalming and dressing them. Our guide to dressing the deceased has everything you’ll need to know.
  • The hearse and transport for a funeral procession
  • Staff for the funeral, such as singers or pallbearers

Some funeral directors might include some of these costs, such as use of the Chapel of Rest, in their fees. You can also ask some of the mourners at your loved one’s funeral to be the pallbearers. Your funeral director will discuss all of these options with you sensitively and explain the costs clearly to you.


What is the cheapest type of funeral?


Many funeral directors offer fixed-price funeral packages which include everything required for a basic funeral, including their own fees, under a single figure. These packages range from direct cremation, without a funeral service, to complete services including a coffin, hearse, venue, celebrant and flowers.


A fixed-price funeral package might also include the cost of the cremation or burial. This should be clearly stated in the outline of the package. Some people prefer not to have a funeral at all and choose direct cremation instead, without a service, instead. They might still have a memorial service at a later date.


We should probably mention direct cremation briefly as this is the cheapest option for the public.


What is the cost of a funeral for a child?


The fees for cremating or burying a child under the age of 18 in England and Wales is now covered by the government. Some local authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland also waive these fees.


*These figures are from Sunlife Cost of Dying Report 2021.

**These figures are from research by Funeral Guide.

Help with Funeral Costs
Information on what financial help is available for your loved one’s funeral


What happens if you can’t afford a funeral?


The government has a number of different schemes and grants available to help when you are unable to pay for a funeral. It is true that the person organising the funeral is responsible for covering the costs, but that shouldn’t make you worry.


There are rules in place to make sure you have financial support if you are responsible for arranging a funeral, but are not able to do so financially.


Your loved one’s estate


If your loved one had enough funds in their estate, including bank and building society accounts, their funeral expenses may be claimed from this when it has gone through the legal process of probate.


It’s helpful to be aware of the value of your loved one’s estate, but banks and building societies must be informed when someone dies. They will freeze or close individual accounts until the estate has gone through probate and they receive a Letter of Administration to open up access to the funds.


If they died without leaving written instructions, a bank statement could provide you with information about funeral plans, insurance policies or other assets your loved one may have had.


Some funeral directors will allow payment to be delayed until your loved one’s assets have been unfrozen. In the event that this doesn’t happen, or your loved one’s estate cannot cover the cost of the funeral, other payment options need to be explored.


Who pays for a funeral if there is no money left?


If your loved one died but left no money for a funeral in their will, then it is the responsibility of whoever is organising the funeral to provide for the cost of it.


If you are unable to pay the full amount, most funeral directors will be able to offer you a payment plan.


Insurance or pre-paid funeral plans


Life and funeral cover insurance plans and pre-paid funeral plans are designed to be paid out after the death of your loved one is registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.


Similar to banks and building societies, the insurer or funeral plan provider that your loved one had accounts with will only release the funds once you have shown them the Death Certificate.


Evidence of these payment schemes should appear in your loved one’s bank or building society account, as they often require monthly instalments. Also details of these accounts are often shared with those closest to the account holder, or referred to in the will.


The Social Fund Funeral Payment


If you’re paying for the funeral and receiving means-tested benefits, the Social Fund could help you. The Social Fund is a welfare scheme set up by the government to give financial support to those needing to make one-off payments.


Funeral Expenses Payments are one of the options available to you under this scheme. Your eligibility is dependent on the benefits you receive, your relationship with your loved one (parent, sibling, spouse, etc.) and the other financial resources available to you, excluding your personal savings. If you receive one of the below benefits, you may be considered:


  • Pension Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Tax Credits

To be eligible, you must also be the partner, the parent or guardian, or a close family member or friend responsible for the payment of your loved one’s funeral.


Any funds still held by your loved one’s estate that could aid in the payment of the funeral will be considered as part of the means-testing process. These funds include funeral plans, insurance policies and your loved one’s bank and building society accounts.


Budgeting Loans


Budgeting Loans are small, interest-free loans that are repaid directly from your benefits. Your eligibility is dependent on whether you or your partner have been receiving one of the below benefits for the past 26 weeks:


  • Pension Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can apply online for a Budgeting Loan. If you are in Northern Ireland, you must apply via NI Direct.


War Disablement Pension


Another possible source of help with funeral costs, is if your loved one was receiving War Disablement Pension or died as a result of serving in HM Forces. In this scheme, Veterans UK will contribute to the cost of a simple funeral.


To check eligibility criteria, visit Veterans UK or call their dedicated bereavement line on 0800 1693458.


Charitable Funds


Charitable funds, or benevolent society funds, can be really helpful if your loved one died in a way that makes you eligible to apply for one. The funds are usually connected to a certain trade, service, profession, or location, and there will be additional criteria that each of them will require for you to receive a funeral grant. Many trade unions will also have emergency funds available to help members and their dependents in case of sudden loss or bereavement.


If you are struggling to find out how to pay for a funeral with no money put aside in your loved ones’ will, then their respective trade union may be a good place to start.


Bereavement Support Payment


The UK government offers the Bereavement Support Payment (BSP), effective from April 6, 2017. From this date, BSP has replaced the old three-tiered system of Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance. You may read more about the Bereavement Support Payment on the UK Government website.


BSP is available to those who have lost a spouse or civil partner. It is not available to those who have lost an unmarried or cohabiting partner. When your spouse or civil partner died you must have been under State Pension age.


Surviving spouses or civil partners who are pregnant or have dependent children will receive:


  • A one-off lump sum of £3,500
  • £350 a month for 18 months

Surviving spouses or civil partners who do not have dependent children will receive:


  • A one-off lump sum of £2,500
  • £100 a month for 18 months

Find out more about the Bereavement Support Payment and how to claim it.


Learn more about the costs involved in planning a funeral, go to our cost of a funeral page.

Burying Ashes: All You Need to Know
A short guide to burying ashes in a cemetery, churchyard or existing grave


Burying ashes is something that many families choose to do, instead of scattering a person’s cremation ashes.


Some people may choose to hold a quiet cremation funeral when someone dies, and for the committal of their ashes to be a part of a bigger memorial service led by a religious minister or civil celebrant at a later date.


You can choose a burial plot for someone’s cremation ashes at the time of their funeral, or take time after their cremation to decide where and when you would like this to happen. Unlike a traditional burial, there is no time limit for when you may choose to bury someone’s ashes.


Where can I bury cremated ashes?


The most usual places for the burial of cremation ashes are in small graves in cemeteries, crematoria gardens of remembrance, woodland burial grounds and in parish churchyards.


But some people bury their loved one’s ashes in the garden, and the UK even has an underwater cemetery for burying ashes, off the Dorset coast.


Cremation ashes can be buried directly in the ground, or interred in an urn in a burial plot. You can buy double urns to hold two people’s ashes. For more information, our guide to choosing an urn is a great place to start.


Cremation ashes can also be placed inside someone’s coffin, before a traditional burial.


When you buy a grave for cremation ashes, what you are actually getting is a “exclusive right of burial” in that plot for a fixed number of years.


Many cemeteries and burial grounds have special areas for the burying of ashes according to religious faith or denomination. Catholic funerals, for instance, do not permit the scattering of ashes, but permit their burial in an area of a cemetery dedicated to the faith, or ashes in an urn to be placed in a columbarium niche which has been similarly blessed by the Church.


How do you bury ashes in a cemetery?


You can ask your funeral director about burying ashes in a cemetery at the time of arranging a funeral, or make your own enquiries directly with a cemetery in advance or at a later date.


Crematoriums have dedicated areas for the burial of ashes, in their gardens of remembrance. 


These include graves in lawned areas, which can be marked with memorial masonry and more informal garden areas where cremation ashes – not in an urn– can be buried, with the place marked with a rose, shrub or tree.


Some cemeteries and crematoriums also have above-ground burial options for cremation ashes, including a type of mausoleum called a columbarium, where funeral urns can be placed in niches set into the walls. Families can buy a dedicated niche for their loved one and columbariums are generally open to visitors year-round.


Other above-ground ways of burying ashes in a cemetery include ornamental masonry, such as carved stone benches, which have spaces inside where the remains are placed.


Many woodland burial sites also offer gravesites for the burial of ashes. These ashes plots can be purchased in advance or at the time of need.


Many people choose to have a committal service for the ashes, as part of a memorial for the person who has died.


Can you bury ashes in a churchyard?


Parish communities more often have space for burying ashes in the churchyard than they do for traditional burials.


The Church of England can help people arrange a funeral in their local parish even if they weren’t a churchgoer and a local vicar or the parish council may be able to advise about space in your local churchyard.


How much does it cost to bury cremated ashes?


The cost of a cremation ashes plot can vary according to the location of the cemetery and grave. However, they cost far less than a traditional grave – between a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds.


It may cost more if you are not a local resident or member of the local parish, or you wish to be buried in a specific location within the cemetery or churchyard. Family plots and larger grave sites will cause the cost to increase as well.


The total bill cost of buying a grave (or more accurately, the purchase of the exclusive burial rights for a plot), includes an additional fee for the internment of the ashes in the grave, paying for the right to mark the grave with a stone, and the cost of any masonry or living marker.


If you are burying ashes in an existing grave, you’ll still need to pay a fee for opening the grave and their interral.


If you are planning to bury ashes at the time of arranging a funeral, these costs are called “disbursements” – third party goods and services which are added on to the total bill from the funeral director.


Can you bury ashes in an existing grave?


You may choose to bury ashes in an existing grave site, provided you are the owner of the grave or next of kin with a claim over the exclusive burial rights.


Can the burying of ashes take place on private land?


In the UK, you are legally allowed to bury ashes on private land with the landowner’s permission. However, bear in mind that the land could be sold to another owner which may make it difficult for you to visit the grave in future.


What is a committal service for the burial of ashes?


A committal service is a short graveside ceremony that takes place during the burial or interment of ashes. It can be religious or non-religious.

What is a Chapel of Rest?
A look at chapels of rest, what they are, how they’re used and what you need to know before attending one.


It’s in a chapel of rest that many people say their last goodbye to a loved one, but not everyone knows exactly what a chapel of rest is.


What is a chapel of rest?


A chapel of rest is a room or building, often attached to or within a funeral home, where families and loved ones can come and view someone who has died before their funeral. There are no hard requirements for what form a chapel of rest should take but below are some aspects that most share.


What does a chapel of rest look like?


Chapels of rest don’t have a uniform size but they will always have somewhere for a person to be placed, usually in a coffin or a casket. This is known as a catafalque. They typically have seating where mourners can rest and spend time with their loved ones in peace. If they have windows, they will usually have heavy curtains so people can have privacy while they visit.


Do I have to visit a chapel of rest?


There’s no requirement for you to visit a loved one in the chapel of rest. They exist as places where you or other mourners can go and say a final goodbye to a loved one, if you choose to.


Can anyone go to the chapel of rest?


Whoever is organising the funeral will be able to advise whether you are able to visit the chapel of rest. There are no legal limits on who can visit a chapel of rest or what their relationship has to be to the person who died.


If the cause of death would mean viewing a loved one would be distressing or hazardous, in the case of death by an infectious illness, your funeral director will advise you of this. On the whole though, the decision to view a loved one will be the family’s choice.


Does every funeral home have a chapel of rest?


It is a common feature of funeral homes, but it’s not universal. If a funeral director does not have a chapel of rest in or attached to their funeral home, they will usually be able to arrange a space for you to come and view your loved one prior to the funeral.


Chapel of Rest Etiquette


There are some generally accepted rules we will discuss below when it comes to chapel of rest etiquette but for specific instructions on how to act, we suggest you contact either your funeral director or the next of kin of the person who has died.


What should I wear to a chapel of rest?


That’s entirely up to you and the loved ones of the person who has died. Typically, the dress code for visiting the chapel of rest will be less formal than the funeral itself. The people organising the funeral may want visitors to the chapel of rest to respect a certain dress code, for cultural, spiritual or personal reasons, but that is their decision to make.


Can you take photos in a chapel of rest?


So long as you have the permission of the next of kin, you should be able to take photographs in a chapel of rest. It’s important that you double check with the person who is organising the funeral and your visit to the chapel of rest so you don’t cause them offense or distress.


Am I allowed to speak in a chapel of rest?


You are allowed to speak in a chapel of rest and many people take a visit like this as an opportunity to vocalise their feelings and say goodbye to their loved one. It’s worth being aware of your tone of voice, what you’re saying and how you are saying it. So long as you are being respectful of anyone else present, you should be fine.

When to Hold a Funeral
How long after death should a funeral be held


How long is it between a death and a funeral?


How long a funeral is held after the death of a loved one is largely down to how long it takes the family to make the necessary funeral arrangements. If a post-mortem or inquest has been requested by either a doctor, the coroner or, if you are in Scotland, a procurator fiscal, then funeral plans might be delayed.


With more families and close relations living further apart than ever before, it can take time for mourners to make arrangements to return to pay their respects. Faith and religious beliefs can also play a large part in what timeframe is chosen for a funeral.


Places of worship and crematoria have more in demand and quieter periods which will also affect finding the right time to hold a funeral service. Generally Fridays are in higher demand and if you want a weekend funeral, you will need to factor in extra costs. If no plans for a burial have been made prior to death, then finding an appropriate plot may also take time.


If you or a loved one has made a funeral plan or set out their funeral wishes prior to death, then organising a funeral will be a lot easier as several of the more difficult decisions will have already been made.


How long after death is a funeral in the UK?


Typically a funeral will take place between one and two weeks after a death, but if you need longer that can be arranged as well. How long you wait between a death and a funeral in the UK might vary, but you must obtain a death certificate within five days if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and within eight days if you are in Scotland.


A strict time frame for when to have a funeral is an important feature of a number of religious funerals.


How long can you wait to bury someone?


You can wait as long as it takes for you to make the necessary arrangements before you bury someone. With proper funeral care and the help of a good funeral director, you shouldn’t have to wait any longer than a week to two weeks. If there are reasons you need to wait longer, you can also do so and your funeral director will be able to advise on the best way to do so.


You can buy a church burial or a woodland burial plot as soon as the death occurs, or you might have already reserved one. You’ll still have to wait until a death certificate has been issued before a burial can take place and your funeral director will be able to help you organise that.


If you need more time to let relatives and friends arrive from around the country, a funeral director will be able to help arrange a suitable reservation for you.


How long can you keep a body at home after death?


There is no legal upper limit to the amount of time you can keep a body at home. There are some choices that need to be made though and if you choose to lay out a body at home for an extended period, a funeral director can talk you through options for embalming and dressing your loved one.


How long can you keep a body in the mortuary?


A person can be held in a mortuary for a length of time that allows you to make further arrangements. If a person dies in a hospital or care home, they are often moved to the on site mortuary temporarily. As these facilities have limited space, they will often arrange for a funeral director to move the person to a private mortuary.


Whether you are making funeral arrangements yourself or working with a funeral director, you’ll need to make sure your loved one is moved from a mortuary to a place of rest in a reasonable amount of time.


Can you have a funeral on Saturday or Sunday?


A funeral can be held any day of the week but it’s common for burial grounds and crematoria to charge extra for weekend services. With weekends being traditional days for other types of religious services, a minister may not be available for funerals on Saturday or Sunday. Even when planning a non-religious service, some humanist and alternative celebrants might not offer weekend services or may charge extra for them.


You can get buried on a Sunday, though Sunday funerals tend to be the most expensive days and the toughest to organise for Christian ceremonies as Christian ministers will have regular services to conduct on a Sunday.


What time does a funeral usually start?


Funerals will usually begin between mid-morning and early afternoon. This is due to the fact that the professionals involved generally keep normal business hours. Most crematoria staff, cemetery workers and funeral directors work between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. Funerals can take place outside of these times, by appointment, but they are less common.


Can funerals be held at night?


Funerals can be held at night but this generally needs to be specially requested as arranging all of the necessary staff to work outside of business hours can be difficult. If there are specific reasons a night time funeral needs to take place, a funeral director will certainly be able to help; but most will usually advise against it unless completely necessary.

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