Funeral Checklist

The following list of information is provided to help you plan your funeral. Organization is the key to planning in the midst of grief and sadness. We hope the following list will lend a helping hand. Print it out and keep it in a convenient place.

The funeral director will guide you through much of the planning process. Download our funeral checklist prior to meeting with the funeral home so you will be prepared.

Funeral Planning Checklist

The following list of information is provided to help you plan your funeral. Organization is the key to planning in the midst of grief and sadness. We hope the following list will lend a helping hand. Print it out and keep it in a convenient place.

            Notify Authorities:

  • When a family member passes away outside of a hospital or nursing home, you may need to notify authorities of the death. Call 911 or your local emergency number to report the death. The authorities will call the coroner. Although it may not actually be necessary to call the coroner, it is a good idea to do so, especially if the deceased had insurance policies.
  • If your family member passes away at home under hospice care, please contact the appointed hospice nurse to come and pronounce the death while also calling the funeral home at (617) 436-5592.
  • If the death occurs in the hospital things are a little less time sensitive. In this situation, the funeral director is limited by hospital policies and will only be able to transport your loved one once said hospital is ready for release and the preliminary death certificate is complete. Organ donation must be authorized or waived by a family member before release, this may delay transport.

            Notify:

  • Notify Next of Kin and/or Legal Guardian.  

You or the authorities may call the funeral home to taking care of the arrangements for the funeral.

  • Notify your pastor, minister, or local church leader. If your family passes in the day time hours your clergy member may be able to come to the house before transport. Be sure to ask when they will be avail to meet and plan the funeral; agree to meet at the family home if possible.
  • Notify any relatives who will be having a part in planning the wake and details of the funeral. A funeral director will set up a time to meet with the family to finalize the plans, this may be done at your home, church or within our offices and at your convenience.

There will likely be other relatives that should be included, especially if they need to travel some distance to attend the funeral. Don't forget to include close friends. Depending on the place of passing the relatives may have time to come and pay their respects before the funeral home’s transport, feel free to inquire.


Getting Prepared for the Arrangement Process

     Discuss:

  • Who will be handling all funeral arrangements?
    • Please understand that legally the funeral director must take direction from the Next of Kin unless they authorize another designee.
  • Who will be responsible for funeral expenses?
    • If there is an executor for the estate of the deceased, this person usually handles this responsibility, but it is entirely up to the family to determine who should handle this responsibility. Often families will divide this responsibility between several family members.  Before entering into a final funeral contract or announcing any services wishes, We recommend that you know how much money you are working to avoid  overspending especially since payment is required prior to service, which leaves many families raising funds in a very short time frame.

    Gather the Information you will Need for:

  • The completion of the death certificate at the funeral home. (i.e. Parent's names including maiden names, also the social security number and date of birth of the deceased, their occupation of the deceased, Etc. ) See: Vital Statistics Worksheet.
    • Insurance Policy; name of company, policy number, contact information provided by company  & Claim Forms.
    • Veteran’s Discharge Papers (DD214)
    • Birth Certificate of Deceased (optional)

The Funeral Director

  • The funeral director will guide you through much of the planning process. Use the following checklist when meeting with one of our funeral directors.
    • Consider embalming the body
      • This decision will determine the timing and services you choose.The law requires bodies that are not embalmed be buried sooner than bodies that are embalmed.

If this will be a traditional burial, you need to consider

     Your Loved Ones Appearance on the Day of Service 

  • Photo – The funeral director may request a photo of the decease for preparation purposes. If provide during arrangement the suitable physical charges can be attained.
  • Clothing & Accessories or Jewelry. - You may want to bring these with you when you meet with the funeral director, but this is not essential at the initial appointment. When gathing items, please pack as if your family member was getting ready to walk out of the door in the morning less their shoes.

         (See Clothing Checklist.) 

  • Jewelry - Remember any special pins or jewelry. Special pins would include but are not limited to Union and association membership pins. Also Watches, earrings, necklaces, tie tacks, cuff links, or anything that the deceased particularly liked or directed to be included.

If you are considering Direct Cremation or Immediate Burial you may choose to eliminate this step.

Please note: If any of these item our designated to be family heirlooms, you may request that the Director place them on for services but removed and returned before interment.

Consider the Type of Interment:

Burial

  • Cemetery       Available grave for reopening 
    • If one has been previously purchased, bring the deed to the plot with you, if you have it, to the funeral home when you make your plans. If you know you have a plot but don’t have the deed in your possession, the funeral director can contact the cemetery overseer to arrange confirmation. Otherwise a New plot will need to be purchased. The funeral director will assist you with this decision making process based on family tradition and current budget.
  • Vault  (if necessary for designated cemetery)
    • Choose a vault. Your funeral director will describe the various types available.
  • Mausoleum 

Cremation

Options:

  1. Traditional Funeral Service with a Cremation  ______
  2. Direct Cremation  ______
  3. Cremation with Family Present  _____
  4. Direction with a Memorial Service   ______

​Our Preferred Crematory  -   St Michael’s Crematory

As you can see from the options above - Family can make a decision on whether they would like to be present for the cremation. The crematory we use has a chapel for a small intimate farewell. (Not an option when selecting Direct Cremation)


Merchandise

  • Select the Casket or Alternative Container:
    • Types of Casket
      • Burial
      • Cremation
      • Wooden
      • Metal (20g, 18g, 16g, etc)
      • Pressed fiberboard and/or cardboard (Doeskin or Unit)
      • Urns
      • Scattering Containers
      • Keepsakes/jewelry
      • Shipping container (out of state)
    • Open or closed casket
      • Decide whether it will be opened or closed casket.
      • Note: Some clergy persons insist that the casket be closed for the funeral service. If you have a specific wish for the casket to remain open during the service, be sure to specify this when selecting a clergy person to deliver the eulogy.
  • Calling Hours/ Visitation/ Waking Period
    • Decide on calling hours at the funeral home. 
      • Some families choose not to have calling hours at the funeral home, you may decide to use your church home.
      • There is great flexibility and the time(s) selected should try to accommodate the needs of the family not necessarily the public. Historically the Traditional hours have been from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. as these hours accommodated friends who have to work day or evening shifts.
      • More frequently we are seeing calling hours and the funeral services being held all on the same day to minimize the stress on the family.
  • Funeral Services
    • If you plan to have a funeral service, you need to consider when and where the service will be conducted.
      • When:
        • Before burial or cremation 
        • After burial or cremation (known as a Memorial Services)
      • Where:
        • The Funeral Home (Chapel) 
        • Church/Temple/Mosque 
        • At the graveside 
  • Special Ceremonies
    • Some Fraternal Orders and the Military may provide special ceremonies for the funeral service.
      • Check with the local branch of the service the deceased was enlisted in or the Fraternal Order for more information.
      • Our funeral directors may assist you with all Military Honors requests.
  • Seating Arrangements for the Funeral Service
    • The funeral director should be aware of the relationships of people attending to seat them appropriately. (i.e. immediate family, groups, organizations, clergy presence, designated speakers, Etc.) Please understand that if we are not notified in advance, we are not responsible for seating. We will only reserve seating for individuals traveling in the family limousines on the day of service.
    • Compose the Obituary (About the Life)   See: Writing an Obituary
    • Vital statistics
    • Memberships and Associations
    • Hobbies
  • Publishing an Obituary &/or Service Information
    • Decide on which newspapers or other publications will be used to place the obituary notice.
      • Local
      • Regional 
      • Internet 
      • Radio (nation/international)
  • Flower arrangements
    • Decide on the type of flower arrangements to be provided by the family. Relatives and other well wishers may also need to be advised as to your desired floral selections.
    • Type: Casket Spray, Lid arrangements, Standing spray, Matching baskets, Specialty pieces (floral hearts, crosses, and bible)
    • See: Floral Selection Guide
  • Pictures or photo album - Consider setting up pictures or a photo album to remind well wishers and family of good times or special events in the life of the deceased. All may be displayed for calling hours and funeral services. Please discuss items for display with your Director so that the proper equipment is available.
  • Other props:
    • The family or funeral director may wish to setup props that reflect the interests of the deceased. Please discuss items for display with your Director so that the proper equipment is available.
  • Eulogies
    • Decide who will deliver the eulogy
    • 1. Clergy       2.Family or Friend        3. Combination        4.Video Eulogy

See: Writing a Eulogy

  • Special Recognition
    • Consider special recognition for accomplishments of the deceased, such as Athletic, Political, Religious, and Scientific
  • Programs and/or Memorial cards (optional)
    • Funeral home will print ___
    • Have printed at outside facility___
    • Print your own ___
    • See: Programs and Memorial Cards for layouts.
  • Pallbearers
    • Arrange for Pallbearers. Usually 4 to 6 men are needed. Please try to choose individuals that do not have any physical problem (Back, Knee,etc) or may not be emotionally stable on the day of services to participate in this responsibility. The Funeral director will guide them through this process. Report times for pallbearers will be noted in the family itinerary provided by your funeral director.
    • Ask friends or relatives (usually not next of kin) 
    • Ask funeral home to arrange for this service.
  • Music at calling hours or funeral
    • Generic funeral home selections 
    • Favorite recordings of the deceased provided by family 
    • Other soothing instrumentals provide by family 
  • Transportation - calling hours and day of funeral services
    • Consider who will provide transportation for the family on the day of the calling hours if not the same day as the services. Will that same transportation be provided for the day of the funeral service and interment. Transportation of the deceased is provided by the funeral home.
    • Friends and Family or Funeral Home limousines
  • Gravemarker
    • A temporary marker may be selected if a permanent marker has not been purchased or engraved.
    • Engrave present stone ___
    • Purchase new stone 
    • Veterans plaque - Veterans may be eligible for a marker plaque.
    • Special insignias - A member of a service or charitable organization may be eligible for special insignia to be fixed to the marker.
  • Repast, reception or special gathering
    • Decide if there will be a other gathering to celebrate the life of the deceased after the funeral is complete. Consider where and when to hold this gathering.
    • Where & When 
    • Announce: to public or private family gathering
    • Food & Drink 
  • Accommodating out of town relatives
    • Consider how to accommodate relatives.
      • Assist with travel plans
      • Airport pick up 
      • Lodging 
  • Legal Matters - See Related Legal Issues