DIY funeral checklist

After a loved one passes away, there are 7 key steps that you may follow for a DIY funeral:

  1. Caring for the deceased at home
  2. Register the death
  3. Buy a coffin or shroud
  4. Book the crematorium or cemetery (and have the correct paperwork ready)
  5. Organise suitable transport
  6. Arrange the funeral service (and decide who will lead)
  7. Organise the wake (if you’re having one)

For more information, continue reading this helpful guide on DIY funerals by Reassured; an award-winning and FCA regulated broker...

What’s a DIY funeral?

A DIY or Do-it-Yourself funeral is when a family decide to arrange the funeral for a loved one without using all the services of a funeral director.

They may care for their loved one at home until the funeral, obtain and fill in the required paperwork, hire suitable transport and make the necessary phone calls to arrange a cremation or burial.

On the day of the funeral, family members may carry the coffin into the venue and lead the funeral service themselves.

Cheap funerals (do it yourself?)

A DIY funeral is more affordable than a traditional funeral arranged by a funeral director.

Funeral director services are the biggest expense of a funeral, and there’s no legal obligation to use one[1].

A DIY funeral can be challenging, as you essentially take on the role of the funeral director, but it can also be very rewarding.

The general guidance is to be sure that you’re physically and mentally ready to take on the responsibility of arranging a funeral.

Particularly whilst you’re in the process of grieving the loss of a loved one, it may be hard to foresee how you’ll feel about it all until afterwards.

What’s the role of a funeral director?

A funeral director is usually employed to arrange a funeral as they are highly experienced and well-equipped to provide the services and support required by a bereaved family.

A funeral director can arrange some or all of the funeral. Services may include; care and preparation of the deceased at their mortuary facilities, completing the necessary legal paperwork, providing a coffin and hearse, and booking the crematorium or cemetery.

Continue reading our guide to learn how to arrange a funeral yourself and how much it may cost…

Protect loved ones with a prepaid funeral plan

A prepaid funeral plan allows you to arrange your own funeral in advance, protecting your loved ones from this difficult burden.

Plans purchased through Reassured include all the essential services required for the funeral of your choice.

Prices start from as little as £15.97* a month for a direct cremation or from £19.11** for a traditional funeral.

Find out more about the benefits of a funeral plan by getting in touch with our friendly team or visiting our funeral plans page.

The information in this guide hasn’t taken into the account the current Covid-19 restrictions for funerals in the UK. For more guidance on this, visit the government website.

How to arrange a funeral yourself

As mentioned, there are 7 key steps when arranging a DIY funeral in the UK (as below).

However, there are different types of funerals which include; cremation or burial, religious or non-religious, traditional, eco-friendly, a celebration of life, direct disposal

Therefore, depending on the funeral you’re having, you may not follow each step in this exact order, or you may wish to use this as a rough guide before getting on with the funeral planning.

1. Caring for the deceased at home

In most cases, a funeral director will be called to collect and bring the deceased into their care until the funeral.

For a DIY funeral, the person who has passed can be cared for in the home but only up until about a week.

The body will need to be kept as cool as possible, perhaps by using ice packs or air conditioning.

If they passed away at home, a doctor or ambulance should be called as they will need to sign the Medical Certificate Cause of Death. If not, the hospital or hospice can provide this.

If caring for the deceased at home poses any issues, then you may wish to arrange for the body to be kept in a mortuary until the day of the funeral. This could be at the hospital, hospice or funeral home.


2. Register the death

A death must be registered within 5 days (except for deaths which have been referred to a coroner). 

Pre-Covid-19, this had to be done in person at the registry office. Post-Covid-19, you may have to register the death over the phone.

The registrar will require the signed medical certificate and information about the person who has passed.

Once you’ve registered the death, you’ll receive a ‘certificate for a burial’ for burial or an application for cremation (or Form 1 in England and Wales or Form A in Scotland) which you’ll need to complete and give to the crematorium.

Funeral arrangements can commence once you have all the necessary paperwork.


3. Buy a coffin or shroud

A coffin (or shroud) can be purchased online by individuals arranging a DIY funeral.

However, it may be sensible to check with the crematorium or cemetery first as to which type of coffins they allow.

There are hundreds of different types of coffins made from a wide range of materials.

Cardboard coffins are the most basic and these cost from just £99.

If you’re arranging a DIY natural burial then you will need to purchase a coffin made from eco-friendly materials, such as cardboard, wicker or bamboo.

Or you could purchase a shroud which will be made from a biodegradable material such as wool, cotton or silk.

Also, to ensure that the coffin (or shroud) is suitable, you’ll need to take into account the height and weight of the person who has passed. The coffin provider may request measurements of the body.

Delivery could be arranged to the home or to the company caring for the deceased.


4. Book the crematorium or cemetery

When booking the funeral, you may need to consider the following:

  • Whether you have allowed enough time to gather the required paperwork
  • If coffin or shroud has been ordered and will be delivered in time
  • Will the florist have the flower arrangements ready
  • Has suitable transport been organised (see step 4)
  • If holding the service at a different venue, has this been booked
  • Who will lead the service and are they available (unless the service is family-led)
  • What the deceased will be wearing and whether it is suitable for cremation or burial
  • Has an obituary has been arranged


Cremation

To book the crematorium for the cremation you’ll need to provide them with the following forms:

  • Application for cremation
  • Medical certificate (not required if the coroner has issued a certificate)
  • Registry of Death

The crematorium may also have their own forms for you to fill in which will provide them with instructions for the funeral and for the ashes.

You’ll need to mutually agree on a time and date for the funeral and book in the service at the chapel, unless you’re holding the service at a separate venue, such as at a church.

A service usually lasts up to 45 minutes but can be longer at an additional cost.

Other considerations:

  • You may wish to purchase an urn for the ashes, as these are usually returned in a simple container
  • You may wish to purchase a plot at a cemetery to bury the ashes or you may wish to scatter the ashes at a sentimental location


Burial

The following forms are required before a burial can take place:

  • Notice of burial
  • Registry of Death
  • Exclusive Right of Burial Deed (lease of the burial plot)

The cemetery owner can help you arrange the purchase of a lease and help you choose where the burial plot itself should be.

You’ll also need to mutually agree on a time and date for the funeral and book in the service at the church, unless you’re holding the service at a separate venue, such as at the cemetery chapel.

A service usually lasts up to 45 minutes but can be longer at an additional cost.

Other considerations:

  • You’ll need to purchase a memorial to mark the grave (except for natural burial)

5. Organise suitable transport

Transporting the body to where the funeral is taking place will require an estate car or van.

If you prefer, a traditional hearse and driver could be hired and this doesn’t need to go through a funeral director.

There are alternative hearses available too, for example, a horse-drawn carriage or even a motorcycle (although these may cost a little more).

You’ll also need to consider how family members will be getting to and from the service.

If you’re on a budget, they could take their own transport or rent a minibus.

For a bit more luxury, you could hire a limousine or executive car.


6. Arrange the funeral service (and decide who will lead)

The DIY funeral service could be organised by family members and led by themselves for a truly personalised experience.

However, it’s important to stick to an order of service and ensure that the ceremony is wrapped up within 45 minutes (or the amount of time you are booked in for).

The other option is to hire a professional, such as a minister or celebrant, to lead the service.

A ceremony may be religious or non-religious and may include:

  • Readings/speeches
  • Hymns
  • Prayers
  • Songs
  • A eulogy

The Good Funeral Guide provide this ‘Construct the Ceremony' template, which you could use as a guide.


7. Organise the wake (if you’re having one)

The wake is the less formal part of a funeral and doesn’t have to take any particular structure.

You can hold a wake at someone’s home, a nearby pub or hotel, town hall, or social club. Pretty much anywhere you’d like. Just advise your guests where this will be beforehand.

You may wish to plan ahead as to what will take place at the wake, for example, if there will be more music, singing and/or other tributes.

You may also need to organise food and refreshments for the event.

DIY funeral: Cost

The overall cost of a DIY funeral really depends on the services you choose to include.

It could be arranged to a strict budget but if money isn’t a concern (and you’re saving on funeral director fees) you may wish to spend a little more on personalising the funeral and making it a really special day.

Without using the services of a funeral director, the remaining costs to consider for a basic DIY funeral in the UK, include:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Doctors’ fees
  • Minister or celebrant fees (if they are required)

Other costs to consider for a DIY funeral, include:

  • DIY funeral flowers
  • Funeral notice / obituary
  • Transport for family e.g. limousines
  • Hiring transport for the coffin
  • DIY order of service
  • Coffin or shroud
  • Urn for ashes (for cremation)
  • Gravedigger fees (if applicable)
  • Memorial
  • DIY catering for wake
  • Venue hire
  • Live music (if required)

What is the cheapest DIY funeral?

A DIY funeral is one of the least expensive ways to have a funeral, however, the cheapest DIY funeral is a cremation without a funeral service.

This is known as a direct cremation or cremation without ceremony.

In this instance, you’d arrange for the coffin to be transported to the crematorium on the day of the cremation but wouldn’t attend a ceremony beforehand.

You also wouldn’t be able to choose the time and date of the cremation, this would be decided by the crematorium.

Without a funeral service, there’s no need to pay for family transport, a fancy coffin, or flowers.

And, as it’s a cremation, you’ll avoid expensive burial fees or for a burial plot.

Most funeral providers in the UK offer direct cremation services, and these can cost from as little as £500.

Family may wish to get together after the cremation, with the ashes, and have a DIY memorial service or celebration of life at a time and place convenient for them.

A direct cremation is the simplest and most affordable way to be laid to rest, however, it may not be for everyone.

Pros and cons of a DIY funeral

PROs

  • Save money by not using a funeral director
    As mentioned, funeral director services can be expensive. You could save a considerable amount by not using all the traditional services they typically provide.
  • Personalisation and privacy
    You may feel that using a funeral director is impersonal, particularly if your loved one didn’t have a preference.

    A funeral arranged and conducted by close family and friends, who knew the deceased the most, may feel more appropriate.
  • Honouring your loved one’s wishes
    Your loved one may have instructed family and friends to spend as little as possible on their funeral, or they’d asked in particular for a DIY funeral.
  • Free advice is available
    Organisations such as The Natural Death Centre provide free advice and guidance on DIY funerals.

CONs

  • Need to be physically and mentally prepared
    Arranging a funeral yourself may be challenging and stressful whilst you are going through a bereavement.
  • Pressure of time
    A DIY funeral may require some research and this can be time-consuming (and a little overwhelming). Also, you’ll need to source the necessary products and services and decide how the funeral will be conducted. This may be a task for someone that’s a decision-maker and perhaps knew the deceased very well (or knew their funeral wishes).
  • Practical difficulties
    The person who has passed needs to be kept in a cool environment up until the funeral. This may be difficult in warmer weather and you’d need to have the space available for up to a week. Also, there may be complications if a coroner needs to be involved, a post-mortem is required, if the person passed away far from home, or if they had passed away in an accident.
  • Family and friends need to be available to help
    Ensure that you have plenty of support, physically as well as emotionally, throughout the process. Will other family members be able to help with the arrangements at the same time as grieving the loss of your loved one?

Arrange your own funeral yourself with a prepaid funeral plan

Arranging a funeral for someone else may have got you thinking about your own funeral one day.

With a prepaid funeral plan, you can:

  • Ensure that your final wishes are met
  • Have peace of mind that your loved ones won’t have to worry about all the planning when the time comes
  • Protect loved ones from rising funeral costs
  • Spread the cost so it’s affordable

We can help you compare a variety of plans that are available so that you can choose the one that meets your needs and budget.

Funeral plans arranged through Reassured guarantee acceptance and there are no medical restrictions.

Get in touch with us today to secure your prepaid funeral plan from as little as £15.97* a month.

Sources:

[1] SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021

*£15.97 a month is for the Simplicity Cremations Lily Plan, provided by Reassured which is for a direct cremation only, at £1,495 with 10 years payment term (total amount payable £1,916.77) as of 1st March 2021

**£19.11 per month pricing includes a £75 discount only available to Co-operative members and is based on a 50-year-old purchasing a Co-operative Simple Funeral Plan at £3,020 over the maximum term available of 25 years (total amount repayable £5,733.40) as of 1st March 2021

+The £100 discount offer applies to all Dignity Funeral Plans purchased through Reassured between 10th March and 11th May 2021. For example, a Diamond plan purchased by lump sum will be discounted from £4,195 to £4,095, or from £349.58 to £341.25 if you choose to pay over 12 months. Instalment payments over a period greater than 12 months will also be discounted

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