Pre-Planning for a Funeral: How and Why You Should Do It

Pre-planning in the funeral industry is decreasing in popularity. The decline can be attributed to various reasons, however, even if you don’t want a traditional funeral, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any plans for after your death. While traditional pre-planning for a funeral is waning, pre-planning for the disposition of your possessions is gaining in popularity.

The decline of funeral pre-planning can be attributed to numerous things. Many people are reluctant to seriously consider their own death or the death of a loved one. There are some who believe that pre-planning for a funeral is depressing or morbid, but it doesn’t have to be. Making plans in advance and making them known is not only a gift to loved ones, but it can also be a gift to yourself by helping ensure you have the funeral or service you want.

Whether a death is anticipated or unexpected, losing someone close to you always brings feelings of sadness and grief. If you’ve never discussed your wishes, the time immediately after one’s death can cause many unnecessary conflicts  and a lot of frustration for your loved ones, especially your executor.

As a leading estate cleanout service, our clients often share with us what they wish they would have known before their loved one passed away. We’ve put together this guide to pre-planning to help you and your loved ones know how to pre-plan beyond the funeral service and what areas to focus on to stay organized and make life easier for those you leave behind.

Girl showing her grandmother something on her phone

How to Pre-Plan

Funeral pre-planning is often seen as part of will and estate planning, and while many people acknowledge the importance of planning in advance and communicating their wishes, they often fail to do so in practice. But planning your funeral can allow you to select the service that is in line with your wishes and meets your needs. A great number of decisions need to be made regarding the funeral in the 48 hours after someone dies, and if you didn’t make your wishes known, that’s a lot of decision-making for a grieving family to be guessing at.

Even if you don’t formalize plans by pre-arranging and pre-paying with a funeral home, you should make advance decisions about what you want, such as:

  • Location (funeral home, cemetery, religious institution or place of worship, outdoor setting, a loved one’s home or other meaningful location)
  • Whether you want a burial or cremation
  • Type of casket or urn
  • Type of service (religious, celebration of life, non-traditional)
  • Flowers for the service
  • Designation of speakers, pallbearers, etc.
  • Specific music or readings you want to be played or read at the service

Some choose to make very detailed plans regarding their funeral or service, while others prefer to put together a general outline and leave the smaller details to their loved ones. As long as your plans are communicated to your family, both ways are helpful.

Getting Your Estate Ready

While there’s a specific set of criteria that should be followed when selecting your executor, for many of us, that person is someone we care about. One of the greatest gifts you can give to that person is to be organized and prepared.

Taking some time to organize your estate and let your wishes be known makes a world of difference to the executor and makes their job much more manageable. The duties of an executor can be overwhelming even with the most well-planned estates. Do what you can to make their life easier so they don’t have to track down accounts, appraisals, passwords, life insurance policies or be the decision maker regarding which offspring  gets what.

Put a Home Inventory Together

A home inventory is an immensely helpful tool that can make your life, and the life of your executor, much easier. The benefits range from helping you make the right choice for home insurance coverage or making a claim, to moving, decluttering and downsizing, and of course, estate planning.

It’s exactly as it sounds – a complete list of all the belongings in your home, from big-ticket items like electronics, furniture, and artwork to smaller items like cookware, collections and clothing. This inventory is helpful if you want to pass items along to kids or grandkids during your life, or to determine who gets what in your will, and for your executor to use after you pass.

If the task seems insurmountable, consider working with an organizing service like NEATSPACES. We’ve helped many clients put together their home inventories and have heard firsthand how these inventories have proven their worth.


There are more and more stories cropping up of adult children dealing with their parent’s deaths and then being shocked to find a house full of stuff – both junk and meaningful items – that they have no idea what to do with. Avoid leaving your children to sort out your belongings by decluttering yourself.

At NEATSPACES, we provide strategies for decluttering and downsizing, and our experts can help with these tasks if they are too much for you to handle yourself. We can help sort, edit and provide suggestions if you’re looking to donate belongings.

Keeping Things Organized

One of the biggest issues for executors and family members left with an estate they received little to no direction about is the enormity of the task and all the little details that make up an estate that need attending to.

Paperwork is a particularly difficult thing to keep track of, both in life and in death. But if you have trouble tracking down paperwork and documents, imagine how much more difficult it will be for your executor to find and keep track of. In addition to pre-planning and getting your funeral and estate plans ready, you need to keep them organized.

Doing the work of pre-planning isn’t much help to your loved ones if they can’t find the paperwork. It’s better to get organized now and keep things organized, whether on your own or by using a professional organizing service that can help you track down paperwork and implement a filing system to keep things neat and tidy.

Pre-planning can be an opportunity to reflect on your life, the people you have known and the things you have done. Looking back at your life can be a crucial step to embracing new changes in your life as well.

For downsizing, moving and organizing services in the Greater Toronto Area contact us today!