This funeral pre-planning checklist is for those who believe that thinking about--and planning for--end of life is part of living with intention and self-awareness, not to mention being helpful to family! We’ve organized the process into five sections to make it easier to navigate.


You can download your own Farewelling File here, which includes the funeral pre-planning checklist, plus questions to prompt you and space to fill in all your wishes so you can share them with whomever you choose. Note: you don’t have to do everything all at once, and you can change your preferences at any time. Just start somewhere and check something off. May we suggest the Top 5 Healthcare Documents You Should Fill Out Now? After that, you can deal with documents or skip to personalizing your Best. Last. Party. Ever. just the way you want it.



This section is a good place to start. It deals with some essential choices and may spark discussion or require deep breaths or more thought to determine what’s right for you.


  • Fill out key healthcare-related paperwork to be sure that your wishes are known and will be carried out by the right person. You may not need all five docs!
    • Living Will
    • POLST
    • Power of Attorney (Healthcare Proxy)
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • DNR/DNI Order
  • Decide if you want to be an organ donor
    • If so, fill out the paperwork
  • Choose guardianship for children and/or dependents
    • Note your instructions and store with any necessary paperwork
  • Plan for the care of any pets
    • Note your wishes and obtain any paperwork or other applicable information such as contact info for the veterinarian
  • Create or update your will
    • Note:  It’s best not to put your funeral wishes solely in your will as sometimes the will isn’t read till later. Download your Farewelling Worksheet and record everything there.
  • See the Well Documented section at the bottom for a list of key records to gather and store in a safe place



Our modern lives have so many components--possessions, accounts, documents, passwords, people!  In this section, you’ll have a chance to organize. While not all these tasks may be necessary, taking care of even a few of them will help those who love you most, just in case.


  • Gather all the documents and info noted in the “Well Documented” section below, and store together in a safe place
  • Note key contact information and store securely with important records including:
    • Immediate and extended family
    • Loved ones and friends
    • Workplace colleagues
    • Lawyer
    • Accountant
    • Landlord
    • Member organizations (military, volunteer, civic, religious, etc.)
    • Celebrant/Religious Leader



Depending on your personal situation, you’ll likely need some combination of the below. It can be good to gather documents and info into one central file for safekeeping, and making an extra set of copies is never a bad idea.


  • Key Healthcare Documents (see the Well Considered section above)
  • Farewelling File/Funeral Plans (including any burial plots, Funeral Savings Accounts or Pre-Paid Arrangements)
  • Identification Documents (Drivers License, Passport, Birth Certificate)
  • Social Security Card
  • Marriage License 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 “Well Organized” section above for a List of Key Contacts )



Here are a few points that may apply as you work through your plan. If you do download your free Farewelling Worksheet, you’ll find space to write your answers.  Note that your choices may need to be updated from time to time. It’s a good idea to review your Farewelling File once every year or so.

  • Review personal items of value and meaning and make sure they are accounted for in your will (see the Well Considered section above)
    • Note the location of and any security info required to access these items
  • Make decisions about what you’d want done with your social media accounts.
  • Mind-blowing Thought Exercise for Self-Growth: Write Your Own Obituary



If you do want to plan a service--and/or a celebration--that reflects your wishes, your priorities, and yes, even your style, there are a lot of options. Traditional and religious? Avant-garde and raucous? You may want to find a local provider to help with your pre-arrangements. Or you can think through what you want, fill out your Farewelling Worksheet and share it with whomever you like.


  • Consider options: burial, cremation or other alternatives
  • Choose a funeral service style that’s right for you. For example, a green funeral
    • Optional: contact a celebrant or religious leader if you'd like more guidance
  • If you want to be buried, you have the option to:
    • Select a burial plot (If so, keep documents with your important records)
    • Choose a casket
  • If you want to be cremated, you have the option to:
    • Choose an urn
    • Decide if you want something special done with your ashes
  • Determine whether you want to pre-pay for your funeral
    • If yes, you must:
      • Select a funeral home. If you'd like help, read this.
      • Or purchase funeral insurance
    • If you don’t want to pre-pay, but simply want to communicate your wishes, you can fill out your Farewelling Worksheet and share it with your loved ones
  • Personalize your service to make it truly reflect you!
    • Write down the names of preferred speakers for eulogy, readings
    • Choose readings
    • If you want flowers for the service, note any preferences (color, variety, style)
    • Select music for your service
    • If desired/permitted, note any food and drink preferences
    • Note photos you like or other items that you might like displayed
    • Select your clothing and accessories
  • Personalize a pre-or post-service celebration. Read about cool traditions here
    • Note any preferred venue (restaurant, garden, etc.)
    • Note any preferences for what food and drinks might be served
    • Select any preferred décor for the celebration (flowers, photos, etc.)
    • Add details (slide show, guest book, memorial card, or gift)
    • Optional: Allot a budget for this event and set aside
  • Appoint someone to carry out your wishes
  • Share your Farewelling Worksheet with that person and with at least one or two others, just in case