Arranging a Funeral or Cremation in Los Angeles














 
 
 
 

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Cedar Hill Mortuary & Accommodation
"Honorable & Dignified Services at Affordable Prices"
1722 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90041
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Proudly Serving : Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County
San Bernardino County and Ventura County
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Simple Cremations $625.00 - Direct Burials $950.00
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CALL US NOW: (323) 798-9055 (24 hour assistance)

Arranging a Funeral or Cremation in Los Angeles

Coping with the news of a death, or impending death, can be very stressful, and made even more so if you are dealing with arranging a funeral for the first time.

This guide to arranging a funeral or cremation in Los Angeles aims to help you through the funeral-planning process.  We address questions such as how to select a funeral service provider, how much to expect to pay for a funeral and help you to understand what your legal rights are as a funeral consumer.

What do I do when a death occurs?

The majority of deaths do happen in a hospital or care environment. If the death has occurred at a hospital, they will generally transfer the deceased to the hospital morgue where the body can be held whilst you decide which funeral service provider you wish to handle arrangements for you.  If it is a nursing home or hospice, they may require you to make arrangements to have the body transferred to a mortuary. Sometimes a family will rush to call a funeral home to collect the deceased, and then realize that they may have chosen another funeral service provider if they had a little more time to consider their choices! For this reason it can be important to have done some research ahead of time if you have a relative, or loved one, under hospice or nursing care.

If the deceased had a prepaid funeral plan, or had expressed wishes, these can be implemented immediately and you will need to locate the paperwork and contact the appropriate funeral home or cremation provider. 

If the death is sudden and/or the deceased had no funeral plan or life insurance, you may need to make some rather quick decisions about how to proceed.  One of the first main tasks to do is select a funeral home or cremation provider.

How to select a Los Angeles Funeral Home and/or Cremation Provider

Greater Los Angeles is a huge metropolis, so it can help to narrow your selection process down.  If you wish to hold services at the funeral home, you probably want to locate a nearby mortuary.  However, if you have something special in mind, or have a limited budget for the funeral, you may want to shop around and compare funeral prices and services.  Funeral costs can, and do, vary significantly between different funeral homes.  All funeral homes in Los Angeles must be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau who serve to protect the public by legislating the death care business in Los Angeles.  All licensed funeral establishments display their FD license number and must also display it in any online marketing.

How much does a funeral cost in Los Angeles?

Federal law requires that funeral homes provide current retail price information by having a General Price List (GPL). According to the law, any consumer entering a funeral home and making inquiries must be presented with a general price list (GPL).  This must itemize the costs of funeral services and the merchandise for sale from a funeral director.  In 2013 a new California Business & Professions Code (7685) was brought into effect which many believed would mean Los Angeles funeral homes would have to post funeral pricing information on their web sites.  However, the law was somewhat compromised allowing for a funeral home to post a list of their services without prices displayed, as long as they state that the GPL is available on request.  This did not do much to help encourage more transparency in pricing within the funeral industry, which was supposed to help make it easier for funeral consumers to compare prices between funeral homes.  This means that in order to equitably compare funeral costs and services, you may need to contact several funeral service providers in LA and ask for their GPL.

Funeral consumers will ask us ‘what is the cost of a funeral in Los Angeles?’ but this is unfortunately not a straightforward question to answer.  As I mentioned above – prices can vary significantly – even by thousands of dollars for the same service.  The average cost of a funeral according the National Funeral Directors Association is $7,045* and this does not include any cemetery fees. This is a national average cost, and you will find the cost of a traditional funeral in Los Angeles can vary between $3,300 to over $10,000. Purchasing a cemetery plot in a Los Angeles cemetery can add a further $3,000+ to the cost of funeral services.  Therefore a complete traditional burial in LA is likely to cost somewhere in the region of $6,500 to $20,000 depending which funeral provider and cemetery plot you select. 

Cremation services are already a popular option in Los Angeles with around 7 in 10 funerals now being a cremation instead of a burial.  The interest in cremation services has increased because it offers such a cheaper option than a traditional burial service.  The cost of a cremation in Los Angeles can be under $1,000, so a meaningful and affordable funeral can be achieved for a fraction of the cost of an elaborate traditional Los Angeles funeral service.

Understanding Cremation services in Los Angeles – your options

A dignified cremation funeral can be arranged for around $2,500 to $4,000.  As there is no need for a burial plot, a grave liner or a casket, this significantly reduces the overall funeral costs.  A cremation funeral can proceed very much the same as a traditional burial, only the deceased is transported to the crematory following a service.  It is even possible to conduct a service at the crematory if you so choose.

Los Angeles direct cremation service providers – What are cremation costs & packages?

A direct cremation simply means that an immediate cremation is conducted with no service, and minimal services and intervention by a funeral home.  The deceased is generally collected from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory.  After all the required paperwork and preparation is done, the deceased is cremated (most often in a simple cardboard container) and the cremated remains are then returned to the family. A direct cremation in Los Angeles can generally be obtained for around $625 (depending on which cremation services provider you select).  Do be aware though that some cremation providers are offering direct cremation packages that are not complete and you should check that any quoted price is a fully inclusive cost.  Death certificates and permit fees are often added to a direct cremation package price as these are considered third-party (county) fees and are not fixed.  However, some cremation providers have been known to advertise cremation prices that do NOT include the cost for the cremation container, or a residential collection.

The DFS Memorials provider for Los Angeles offers a complete direct cremation for $625 and a direct burial for $950.  Call for assistance on (323) 798-9055.

What do I need to understand about laws and permits for cremation?

In order for a cremation to be performed, the legal next of kin must sign a ‘Cremation Authorization Form’ and a cremation permit must be issued.  A cremation cannot proceed until these documents have been duly completed, signed and notarized. The next of kin must sign the Declaration for Disposition of Cremated Remains, and a funeral home will usually arrange this as part of their services.  No casket is required by law for a cremation but a suitable rigid cremation container is required. This can be a simple cardboard container.  If a service is to be held before the cremation, some funeral homes will offer rental caskets that you can use for the service before the cremation is conducted using a simple cremation container.

Arranging a Los Angeles cremation service with a memorial

A cremation memorial service is generally where the deceased is cremated first and then a service is held.  This can be with, or without, the cremated remains present, or can take the form of an ash-scattering ceremony.  Today we are embracing more novel and alternative memorialization ceremonies and life celebrations that can even be held in locations other than places of worship.  You will even find that Funeral Celebrants are leading and officiating at memorial services as well as traditional clergy and ministers.  A memorial service does not have to take place immediately after the cremation.  In some cases families wait an appropriate length of time, or even until an anniversary or special date, before they hold a memorial service.  This can take away the stress of having an immediate funeral gathering and allow for family to gather together having time to prepare to memorialize their loved one.

What are the laws for scattering ashes in Los Angeles?

According to the provisions in California state law, cremated remains can be kept at home, buried in a cemetery or memorial garden, mausoleum or niche.  Remains can also be buried or scattered on private land (with the permission of the landowner).  Cremated remains are organic and sterile and so pose no issue to the environment when you scatter.  If you wish to scatter remains in public parkland, there are no specific laws preventing this but it is advisable to check with park authorities as to if any permit is required.

Cremains are actually white in appearance, similar to aquarium gravel, and therefore can be rather conspicuous, not at all like ashes from a fire.  For this reason you may wish to consider a shallow burial unless you are planning on dispersing the ashes in water. It is also highly advisable to use paths less traveled for the scattering ceremony and to use discretion.  As a guide, you should not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads, walks or trails.

Within all the documented evidence at all levels - federal, state, and local legislation – the only commonly agreed point of principle I have found is that the container which carries the remains must be disposed of separately and no permanent memorial marker may be erected.  To be eco-friendly you should only use biodegradable materials if you wish to conduct some kind of scattering ceremony.

If you wish to conduct a scattering off the Pacific Coast, you need to consider the Environmental Protection Agency regulations.  Los Angeles is in Region 9 (Pacific Southwest) of the EPA and the region contact number is (415) 947-8000.  The EPA guidance for scattering cremated remains at sea is for the craft to be 3 nautical miles at sea for a scattering ceremony.  There are a number of boat charters operating out of Southern California offering accompanied or unaccompanied ash-scattering services.  Read our ash-scattering section for more information about how to scatter responsibly and ideas for ash-scattering options.

How do I preplan a Funeral in Los Angeles?

Planning ahead can save your surviving family a lot of stress and the emotional and financial burdens of handling the funeral process and costs.  All monies that you put into a funeral plan in Los Angeles must go into a trust fund. There are various options as to how you can make payment when preplanning a funeral from single pay plans to automatic monthly bank withdrawals.  Most funeral service providers will tailor a plan designed to meet your budget constraints.

You can choose to preplan and prepay, what is commonly called a ‘preneed contract’ – or you can preplan by setting all your wishes out and even pre-signing the necessary authorizations but not prepay.  Many funeral consumer advocates recommend keeping hold of your money and putting it into a Totten Trust yourself as a safer way of planning for the inevitable.  This can, of course, depend upon whether you have life insurance, your estate, your surviving family and whether you have considerations regarding assets for Medicaid or Medicare.  Read: What is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral?

What are Los Angeles Funeral laws governing home death care, embalming & casket sales?

You have the legal right in Los Angeles to care for your own dead if you so wish.  You do not legally have to employ a funeral director. [Statute, Chapter 3, Section 7100]  Many families prefer to use the services of a professional who can guide them through the process and handle everything, however, there is a growing interest (more so on the West Coast) to conduct a home funeral.  This just means taking care of all funeral arrangements yourself, filing for the death certificate and burial/cremation permit and transporting the deceased to the cemetery or crematory.  Read more about this in the section on natural or green burial in the library. 

Embalming is the use of chemicals, internally and externally, to disinfect and temporarily preserve the body. There is no California law that requires embalming, however if the body is to be transported most carriers will require a body to be embalmed prior to shipping.  Embalming does not preserve the body and can be a very invasive procedure.  If you do not wish to have your loved one embalmed ensure you select a funeral services provider who has adequate refrigerated storage, and will work with you to deliver the type of funeral service you require 

Caskets are not required by law in Los Angeles, however, there may be cemetery or mausoleum restrictions regarding caskets and outer burial containers or vaults. The law does not require a casket for cremation but some type of container such as a cardboard box or canvas pouch is usually required by the crematory.

What are the green burial options in Los Angeles?

A green (or natural) burial involves preparing the deceased with as little chemical intervention as possible, and burying him or her in a naturally-made coffin.  This can be a wooden coffin, a bamboo box, or wool or linen shroud.  There are a number of funeral service providers who can offer you an eco-funeral by ensuring these standards of non-invasive handling of the deceased are delivered and arranging a burial in a green cemetery plot.  Hillside Memorials Park & Mortuary and Joshua Tree Memorial Park offer green burial plots.

If the deceased is in the care of the LA County Coroner

If the deceased has been taken into the care of the County Coroner, you will be required to complete their release form. You will need to send the release form to your selected funeral services provider in order that they can deal directly with the ME to take your loved one into their care.

Los Angeles County Department of Coroner
1104 N. Mission Road
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Phone: (323) 343-0512

How do I file for the death certificate in Los Angeles?

The funeral director generally files for the death certificate on your behalf.  It has to be filed within 8-days after the death has occurred.  The funeral director will need you to fill in a form with personal questions about the deceased in order that he can file for the death certificate.  Certain statistical data is required to effectively complete the form.  Death certificates cost $21.00 per copy in Los Angeles.  The funeral director will ask you how many copies you require, and it is generally sound advice to have more than one, as you will need multiple copies to notify various institutions to close the deceased’s estate.  Extra copies can be obtained at a later date from the California Department of Public Health. You can order extra copies online, in person, or by mail. 

Donating your body to science in Los Angeles – or ‘no cost’ cremation

You may choose to make an anatomical donation to a medical or research institution in Los Angeles.  Most major medical colleges do accept body donation. UCLA offer a Donated Body Program.  You will also find that there are companies in the U.S. who manage whole body donation programs and offer ‘no cost’ cremations.  MedCure offer such a whole body donation program in Los Angeles.

What help is there for those on low income with funeral costs in Los Angeles?

Sadly more and more families today are struggling to meet funeral expenses.  The best advice is to try and keep funeral costs to a minimum, and a simple direct cremation is the most economical option.  This can be conducted in Los Angeles for $625.  If qualifying there is a lump-sum death benefit payment from Social Security of $255 (which your funeral director will assist you with submitting a claim for).

The Los Angeles County Coroner will accept applications for burial assistance from a deceased person's family if they have no funds to cover the cost of the disposition. The deceased person and applicants must meet the department's poverty threshold to receive burial assistance. To find out what the specific income limits the department follows to determine eligibility for assistance, you need to contact the coroner's department directly.

California State law requires relatives of the deceased to provide for the disposition of the remains (Health and Safety Code sections 7100 and 7103). Failure to act in a timely manner is a criminal misdemeanor violation and result in the next of kin being required to pay up to three times the cost of the disposition. 

The general order of priority for the duty of disposition of remains and the liability for reasonable costs is:

  1. Agent under durable power of attorney
  2. Spouse
  3. Adult children
  4. Parent
  5. Adult siblings
  6. Public Administrator
If the deceased and next of kin are both unable to pay for the disposition, the county will bury or cremate per its procedure. Usually they will verify via paychecks, income taxes, or a credit check. No service or viewing is allowed, and remains will not be returned to the family. If buried, the burial site will be marked with a reference number only. Veterans are usually interred in a military cemetery plot.

What different faith options are there for alternative funerals in LA?

Being that Los Angeles has such a diverse population and many immigrants who have settled from other countries, it has a very multicultural faith dynamic.  Many funeral homes will cater to a broad range of cultural and faith needs, but you will also find funeral service providers who specialize in meeting specific faith needs.  If you have certain faith requirements, it would be well to ensure you select a funeral provider who understands the final rites of your faith.

International Repatriation of the deceased

With such a large population that began as immigrants to LA, deaths do occur where the deceased had requested to be returned to their country of origin for interment.  International repatriation of the deceased can be an expensive affair but can be arranged by a funeral services provider versant in the legalities of shipping a body. Domestic ship-outs from Los Angeles within the continental USA can be arranged for $2,200 (including airfare) and International ship-outs cost $2,450 (plus airfare). 

Los Angeles funeral home reviews and or complaints

Our online review-based consumer culture has reached the funeral business, and now you can review and compare funeral homes in Los Angeles online.  Directory sites often include local business reviews and this can help you to learn about a funeral or cremation provider.  As with reviewing any service or product, some common sense and integrity must be employed. 

If you have a complaint against a funeral director or a funeral establishment you should attempt to resolve your complaint directly with the funeral home concerned.  If you do not manage to reach a satisfactory resolution, then you can contact the California Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.  A formal complaint against a funeral establishment must be put in writing to them, and include copies of all documentation from the funeral home. 

Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite S208
Sacramento, California 95834
Phone: (916) 574-7870
https://www.dca.ca.gov/webapps/cfb/complaint.php

This guide to arranging a funeral or cremation in Los Angeles has hopefully answered some of your immediate questions.  Listed below are the crematories and cemeteries that serve Los Angeles.  Please also use our funeral resource library to access further articles to assist you with arranging a funeral. 
 

Expert Author: Sara J. Marsden

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 5 years.

Resources:
Finding a low cost cremation provider in Los Angeles
Funeral Homes in Los Angeles

Notes
National Funeral Directors Association Survey 2012

Published: 08/19/2015

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