Pre-Planning is best because it eases the burden on your loved ones. If you have specific wishes (i.e. – scattering your ashes over Yukon, Canada or getting buried under a specific tree) you should at least write these wishes down and ideally arrange for their execution. However, that is not always possible and millions of people each year are faced with the daunting task of planning funerals while grieving a loss.

Find a funeral home. There are three ways of identifying one: first, ask for referrals. Second, look for consistent online reviews. Last, if you have a trusted religious institution, ask for recommendations, although in most states religious officials are not allowed to directly refer you to any individual funeral home.

Set a budget. Pre-planning helps. Some people pay for their own funeral in advance, or set aside the money in an easy to access account (with a listed beneficiary) that ensures the loved ones will have ready available money to pay for the service. Most funeral homes require full payment at the time of service, so you have to be upfront with them about the budget that you can afford.

Decide on burial vs. cremation. More than half of Americans now choose cremation, for reasons related to cost, convenience and the environment. However, some have to choose a burial, for religious reasons.

Decide on open-casket versus closed. Some have religious traditions that dictate this decision. If it is a closed casket, come prepared with pictures of the deceased to help the mourners get the look of your loved ones.

Consider the amount of time you want to spend at the funeral home. Some people have very specific wishes about their ceremony, including the music that should be played, the type of speeches that mourners can and cannot make, and the religious service that should be had.

Include your religious leader. If you know that you have to have religious funeral, reach out to your place of worship as soon as possible.

Spread the word. Once you’ve made arrangements with the funeral home, you should start reaching out to the people you would like to attend. Frequently, the funeral home can assist with this task.

Event after the funeral. Most people hold a post-funeral lunch or event so that friends and relatives can have extra time to mourn and reminisce. You have to plan this event separately, so you need to figure out what you want to spend and what you would like to offer.

It is very important to administer the Estate properly. Contact Katya Sverdlov at or 212-709-8112 if you want to discuss your planning further.