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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Agent under durable power of
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
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.,
Sacramento, California 95834
Phone: (916) 574-7870
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
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.
a low cost cremation provider in Los Angeles
Homes in Los Angeles
Funeral Directors Association Survey 2012