How to plan a funeral anywhere in New Zealand

We humans are a funny lot. Buy a single lotto ticket and we can already taste the cocktails on the beach in Fiji, but mention organising a funeral, and we clam up.

We’ll plan for something highly unlikely to happen far more easily than something that will, eventually and unfortunately, happen to us all.

Perhaps that’s why most of us wouldn’t know where to start with planning a funeral or tangi. But once you get around the weirdness of planning your own send-off or the sadness of planning someone else’s, it’s really just a matter of preferences and logistics.

Here are the basics.

Start with notifications

The first step is to let everyone know about the passing. You’ll need a funeral notice or obituary to go in the newspaper to let people know of the passing. A funeral notice is simply a basic notice, whereas an obituary includes a short bio as well. Of course, Millennials and younger generations will likely copy-paste this straight to social media, so nobody misses out on those ‘notifications’.

Get in touch with the funeral home so they can start making arrangements for the funeral itself. You’ll also need to meet with the funeral director to discuss the ceremony and other plans.

Choose a cemetery

Ideally, the person whose funeral you’re planning for will have already picked a cemetery and left their wishes  written in an easy to find location. If they haven’t, get together with close family and friends to choose a fitting location, such as their hometown, with family, or a place with a beautiful view.

Choose a coffin or casket

Coffins and caskets are surprisingly varied. There are different woods, different styles, and even environmentally friendly options. It might be painted, or polished to highlight the natural beauty of the wood. It might be smothered in bright flowers, or lush with a layer of green fern leaves. You can even get a flat pack coffin now if you want something more simple.

Organise the ceremony

The ceremony should be a celebration of someone’s life in a way that honours them, their personality, and their preferences.

You’ll need to make decisions about:

  • The location
  • The music
  • The order of services
  • The funeral program (the little pamphlet with photos, readings, and information)
  • Who’s invited or whether it’s an open invite
  • Who’ll speak, and whether there will be readings
  • Floral arrangements and other decorations
  • Whether the service will be followed by snacks and beverages
  • Who’ll be invited to the actual burial (if that’s the option selected)

Your funeral director can help you through this process. You can also ask one or two of your loved one’s nearest and dearest to help with these tough decisions.

Make sure costs are covered 

If there’s one thing that could make planning a funeral tougher, it’s the cost. Funerals can be expensive, and even the most basic plans can still cost thousands. The Citizens Advice Bureau suggests that it’s most likely to cost around $10,000 or more.

In some cases, payment will come from the deceased’s savings or other assets once sold.

Alternatively, if the deceased has funeral insurance, then the payout can help pay for the cost as well. Many insurance providers will generally pay out within one business day of receiving the required paperwork. This way can help you get the funds you need for a fitting send-off without worrying too much about the price tag.

Be sure to check your loved one’s estate to see how the funeral cost can be covered.

Things to include in your own funeral

Planning a gathering you’ll only attend in spirit isn’t always easy, but you can help make it easier for your loved ones by leaving a few instructions for them for your funeral.

Aim to include your preferences and wishes for:

  • Burial or cremation
  • Cemetery or plans for your ashes
  • Funeral home
  • Ceremony details (such as music, flowers, religious aspects, pall bearers, speeches)
  • How to cover the costs

Planning a funeral doesn’t come quite so easily as planning how to spend your imagined lotto winnings, but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. A very important aspect of funeral planning is how the cost will be paid for.

There are a few options available on how to pay for funeral costs such as savings, or selling assets from an estate, but funeral insurance is one simple way to help ensure the money is available quickly once a claim has been approved.

Considering funeral insurance? See how OneChoice can help.