If you’re helping to plan a future farewelling for a loved one or friend, first off, you’re amazing! Next, use this checklist to stay organized and track your progress. We’ve arranged tasks into five sections to streamline the process, and you can click the links within to read more about any topic. Hint: Don’t try to do this all in one sitting--start with whatever is easiest for you (and them!), and take it from there.  



This section deals with some choices that will guide the rest of the process. The points may spark a deep discussion or require more thought. If you’re not sure where to begin, we suggest organizing key healthcare paperwork first. You can also download the Farewelling Worksheet which has this checklist and room to fill out their wishes.


  • Read about and fill out key healthcare-related paperwork to be sure that their wishes regarding medical treatment are known and will be carried out.
    • Living Will
    • POLST
    • Power of Attorney/Healthcare Proxy (Read here for how to choose a healthcare proxy)
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • DNR/DNI Order
  • Confirm whether organ donation (or whole body donation) is something they want
    • Gather or complete paperwork to confirm this.
  • Review any existing funeral arrangements or plans so you know where you’re starting
  • Ask if any final wishes have been shared in any format
  • Plan for guardianship of any children or dependents
  • Plan for the care of any pets (include veterinarian contact info)
  • Create or update their will online, or work with a lawyer



Depending on the situation, you’ll need some combination of the below docs, so this list should be helpful as you plan. It can be good to gather documents and copies of IDs, etc. into one central file for safekeeping.


  • Farewelling File/Funeral Plans. Download the Farewelling Worksheet.
  • Identification Documents (Drivers License, Passport, Birth Certificate)
  • Social Security Card
  • Marriage Certificate and/or Divorce Record
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Statements for Bank, Retirement, Investment, Credit and Loan Accounts
  • Passwords and Pin Codes to all Accounts
  • Deeds or Proof of Ownership for Home, Car, etc.
  • Business-related Documents
  • Insurance Policies
  • Key Contact Info (see the Well Organized section of this checklist)



This section will help you put together important contact information so you can keep it all in one place. You can fill out a small address book, make a shared Google sheet or Dropbox file--whatever works for you, and best if it’s a format that can be updated as needed.


  • Gather contact information
    • Immediate and extended family
    • Loved ones and friends
    • Workplace colleagues
    • Landlord
    • Personal and/or business attorney
    • Primary care doctor and any important specialists
    • Member organizations (military, volunteer, civic, religious, etc.)
  • If you are planning for a veteran, review benefits here



Farewelling is all about celebrating a beautiful life, beautifully, and that’s what this section is for. A funeral is often made up of two or more events--a service and a gathering of some sort.  Whatever the event format, the idea is to create something that reflects the values, preferences and, yes, even the style of the individual. Note: some folks are shy about this part, while others already have a clear vision of what they want. But if you open the discussion softly, you’ll discover so much about them, and that is a really cool thing.


  • Discuss burial, cremation or other [alternatives]
  • Explore whether they’d like to pre-pay for their funeral arrangements through funeral insurance, or if they’d like to set aside money in a savings account
  • Confirm their preferred funeral service format (religious, non-traditional, eco-friendly, etc.)
  • Confirm any preferred funeral celebrant/religious leader and note contact info
  • Review and select readings, quotes, or other inspirational words for the service
  • Write down names and contacts of any preferred speakers and format for speeches
  • Discuss any floral and/or decor preferences for the service and/or celebration
  • Select music for any desired moments/elements
  • Ask whether there’s any preference for a program or prayer card for the service
  • Discuss their thoughts on clothing and accessories for their service
  • Note any preferred venue for a celebration/gathering
  • Discuss any special requests/favorites for food and drink for each event
  • Add personal details to the celebration (choose favorite photos for slide show, record a video of little-known facts or stories, discuss sweet or funny or traditional touches)



In our increasingly digital world, people are thinking more about how they want their social media accounts to live on--or not--beyond them. And some folks want a say in their own obituary, for example, or to support certain charities. Whatever they decide, it’s still good to address these elements to make sure any wishes are clear.


  • Discuss their social media and digital account preferences. 
  • Confirm if there are any charitable organizations they’d like to support
  • Gather preferred info for an obituary/tribute