Planning a Funeral For Yourself Or a Loved One

Planning a funeral for a loved one

Many people know little about funerals, having been touched for the first time by their loss. They are not clear whether they intend to use a funeral director or make arrangements themselves.

Choosing a Funeral Director

Funerals can be arranged from anywhere in the country without difficulty using a funeral director. The Executor of the Will or closest surviving relative can employ a professional funeral director to make the funeral arrangements. These include completing the necessary forms, moving the deceased body and helping to register the death. A funeral director will usually include all costs in their final bill but you should check this at the start.

For more information about funeral directors and to find one in your area visit the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Arranging a cremation

Ashford Borough Council does not have any crematoria. The nearest crematorium is in Charing, the telephone number is 01233 712443. Alternatively you can visit Charing Crematorium.

For the interment of ashes the council would require a Notice of Interment form [pdf] 252KB to be completed and the appropriate fee paid. See fees for more details.

Planning your own funeral

Facing up to our own mortality is never easy, but experience shows that those we leave behind find it helpful to know how we would like to be remembered. Every family has its own way of dealing with the subject of funeral planning. Where the topic proves to be too delicate for discussion, it may be easier to write down your wishes in the form of an advanced funeral directive.

What is an advanced funeral directive?

An advanced funeral directive is a document containing instructions for relatives and friends, so that those responsible for arranging the funeral have a clear understanding of the wishes of the person who has died.

Funeral wishes, whether made in a will or an advanced funeral directive, are not legally binding after death. They can simply be written out informally. We offer an Advanced funeral directive [docx] 17KB that can guide you though the process of planning your funeral, which suits your own individual situation and priorities. The form is for guidance purposes only and can be amended however you wish, you may also add pages if you need to as well as delete any sections that you do not require. Once completed, we recommend this form is kept safely with your will, or somewhere known to the person(s) arranging your funeral.

Purchase a burial plot in advance

It is possible for you to purchase a burial plot for yourself in advance (this includes woodland burial plots). Please see our Exclusive right of burial and transfer of ownership page for further information.

Arranging a burial yourself

It is possible to arrange a funeral without the assistance of a funeral director. Should you wish to book a burial, please contact the cemeteries officer to discuss. We will need to know the following information:

  • Details of person arranging the funeral: name and address
  • Details of deceased: name, denomination (Religion of deceased) and address
  • Is there a pre-purchased grave (if so please quote grave number if known), or whether a new grave is required
  • Cemetery of choice
  • Date and time of funeral
  • Coffin size

Legal requirements before a burial can proceed

Registration of death

The death must be registered with the registrar of births, deaths and marriages, who will require a certificate of the cause of death issued by a medical practitioner (Either from the local GP or Hospital). The registrar will issue a certificate for burial (green disposal), which you must pass on to us as soon as possible, without it the funeral cannot take place.

Other things to consider

Container or coffin?

A traditional coffin or biodegradable coffin or alternative may be used for burial. The container must be interred with the body and it is not possible to remove the deceased from the container during the ceremony. The container must be environmentally acceptable and bio degradable without using lead, zinc or such metals during the construction. It is preferred that the name plate or other form of identification is placed on the container.

The container must be lowered into the grave when the burial takes place. We have graves of varying depth in our cemeteries. As it is neither safe nor sensible for anybody to enter the grave, in order to help a body being lowered tapes/webbing straps should be used for lowering from the gravesides. For traditional coffins and rigid containers, the method of lowering must be considered carefully.


You will need to supply sufficient bearers to carry the container and lower into the grave. The cemetery staff are unable to assist you in this task.


Any form of suitable transport can be used to convey the body to the cemetery as well as a hearse. An estate car or van would seem suitable, depending upon how easy it is to slide the container in and out of the vehicle. It may be possible to hire a hearse from a local funeral director and do the remainder of the funeral yourself.


You can devise your own service and deliver it yourself or, through a family member or friend. This can make the service a meaningful experience, which can be personal and moving. The deceased may have composed the service with the family carrying out their wishes.


You can provide your own flowers, or alternatively you can use a commercial florist.


If you require these in the local newspaper then you will need to make these arrangements yourself or via a funeral director. Some papers due to hoaxes do not accept telephone bookings and they may well require you to call at their offices to make the booking, supplying evidence of the death etc.

Green funerals

Ashford Borough Council is committed to improving the environment and provide woodland burials at both Tenterden and Bybrook Cemetery. There is no memorialisation as the woodland is the living memorial to your loved one. Although after a burial the council would plant a tree and add a plaque.

Fees and regulations

There are a number of fees and regulations for each of our cemeteries which you need to consider:

  • Purchase of burial rights - this gives the deed for the Exclusive Right of Burial for 30 years. The grave owner has the right to instruct the cemetery office as to who may be buried within the grave space
  • Burial fee (interment fee) - this is for excavating and securing the sides of the walls of the graves, dressing the surface with timber and grass mats providing lowering tapes, re-filling the grave and leaving it neat and tidy with any flowers carefully placed over
  • Erection of cemetery memorials - a fee is charged for registering and recording the memorial in the statutory registers, checking the inscription and grave owner in the registers and ensuring the memorial is placed on the correct grave

N.B. Please note that all fees may be subject to change.