process is still something that is little discussed in our culture until
the need arises, and then we are faced with a sometimes-overwhelming task.
This article aims to give you an overview of the process of arranging a
funeral in Hawaii, give you some direction in where to start, and answer
some of the legality questions about making funeral arrangements in Hawaii.
mortuaries in Hawaii, so deciding
upon a few factors to narrow your choice of funeral service provider can
How do I choose a funeral services
provider in Hawaii?
Contacting a funeral director
is one of the first things that families automatically go about doing when
a death has occurred. If you have prior experience with a funeral
service provider this can be a straight-forward decision, but if not, it
can be daunting deciding where to start. All funeral establishments
are licensed by the Hawaii Sanitation Branch at the Department of Health
and funeral businesses are bound by the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘Funeral
Rule’ which protects funeral consumers. There are just over 50 funeral
Location and whether you
have something special in mind for the funeral ceremony can be the key
determining factors. Do you want a traditional burial, a cremation
or a more contemporary celebration service? Do you need a simple
cremation and to ship the remains? Do you have a budget in mind?
Just having a clear outline of your specific requirements can help you
when contacting funeral providers to inquire about their services.
Funeral prices are one of
the main reasons that some families research online today. So let’s
talk about funeral costs in Hawaii.
What is the average cost of
a funeral in Hawaii?
The average price of a funeral
in Hawaii these days can amount to in excess of $7,000, and this can be
a complete financial burden to those arranging a funeral service if no
pre-planning for funeral expenses were in place. This cost does not
take into account cemetery plot costs. This means that a traditional
funeral service involving a burial in Hawaii can amount to a cost in excess
of $10,000. However, more affordable funeral options are available
and cremation is fast becoming a preferred means of disposition to those
working on a budget, or choosing not to opt for a traditional burial.
cremation without a service,
also known as a direct cremation, can be conducted for in the region of
$1,000 - $1,500.
How much does a cremation cost
Cremation is already the preferred
choice in Hawaii with 8 in 10 Hawaiians choosing cremation. The price
of a cremation does vary depending which provider you select and the type
of cremation service chosen. A cremation can be a simple disposition
with no service, the ashes returned to the family, who can then organize
a memorial service themselves. Or it can be as elaborate as a traditional
funeral just the difference being the cremation of deceased as opposed
to a burial. A full service cremation service is likely to cost in
the region of $2,500 to $4,000. However, a simple
Because the prices from different
funeral service providers can vary quite significantly – for the exact
same service – it is imperative that you compare prices. Ensure that
you are comparing like for like funeral services before committing to a
Finding a low cost cremation
provider in Hawaii
With 76% of Americans living
paycheck to paycheck today (CNN October 2013) and 35% now in debt recovery,
it is understandable why more families are looking to lower cost funeral
alternatives. It can be difficult enough to lose a loved one, without
being faced with the unexpected cost of making funeral arrangements.
The least expensive funeral
option is a direct cremation. This is a simple cremation with no
services or viewing. Contact your nearest DFS Memorials provider
to access low cost cremation or burial services near you. A direct
cremation can deal with the immediate disposition in a timely and cost-effective
manner. Family can then arrange their own memorial services at a
time and place that suits family members. This does not have to be
at a funeral home or place of worship, it can be anywhere you may choose.
Know your rights: Funeral laws
All funeral homes in Hawaii
are required by law to provide you with a General Price List that clearly
lists the prices for all their services. A funeral home should provide
you with information about all the services available to you, but at no
time should pressure you into a sale. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC)
Rule’ is there to protect you as a funeral consumer, so ensure
you equip yourself with the knowledge about what your rights are.
Can I conduct a home funeral
Yes, if you so wish, you can
prepare the deceased yourself and make the required arrangements.
You would need to file for the death certificate and a burial or cremation
permit. There is NO legal requirement in Hawaii that dictates you
must employ the services of a funeral director.
What do I need to understand
about cremation laws in Hawaii?
Each state has its own legislation
that governs funeral practice. A crematory must abide by certain
practice standards in disposing of human remains by cremation. In
Hawaii a cremation can only be performed once a ‘Cremation Authorization
Form’ has been signed by the legal next of kin and the coroner has issued
the cremation permit. Generally there is a mandatory waiting period of
24 hours before a cremation can proceed but this is not enforced in Hawaii.
That being said, it usually takes about 3 days to make all the necessary
arrangements and complete the paperwork but an expedited service can be
arranged if required.
A casket is NOT required
by law for a cremation. All that is required is a suitable rigid
container. A cremation container is usually a reinforced cardboard
or plywood box. If you wish to hold a funeral service before the
cremation, some funeral homes offer rental caskets.
to pre-sign a cremation authorization
Who Can Authorize a Cremation
or Burial in Hawaii
In Hawaii the Disposition of
Remains Act (Hawaii Stat. §§ 531B-1) allows you to name the person
who will carry out your funeral arrangements. If you have not preplanned
and completed the necessary authorization for a cremation as part of prearrangements
and laying out your wishes, then your immediate next of kin must authorize
a cremation. It can certainly help, and save emotional decision-making,
if you wish to be cremated
Who is responsible for paying
for the funeral expenses?
There are basically 2 options
– either you preplan and prepay for your funeral expenses, or surviving
family will become liable for your disposition costs. You do not
have to formally set up a funeral contract with a funeral service provider,
but can make adequate provision by putting funds aside in a POD account
in order that the person who will arrange your funeral can access this
fund immediately upon the death. You can read more about this in
is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral?’
Prepayment Funeral Plans in
Preplanning and prepaying a
funeral can enable you to take the financial burden from surviving family
and also ensure your own wishes are clearly met. State law regulates
pre-need funeral plans but Hawaii is known to have some of the weakest
laws in the country. It was exposed in 2007 that funeral service
providers in Hawaii were retaining around 30% of monies paid into a preneed
funeral plan for their own ‘administrative costs’. Many states operate
preneed trusts where 100% of the funds collected must be put in trust.
As mentioned above, a POD account, can prove a very safe and adequate way
to put funds aside to cover funeral costs.
Does the deceased have to be
embalmed in Hawaii?
A body does not have to be embalmed
according to Hawaii State law. However, some funeral homes will stipulate
that embalming is required dependent on certain services. For example
if an open casket viewing or service is being performed or if a body is
being transported across state lines.
Purchasing a casket in Hawaii
You do NOT have to use a casket
according to Hawaii State legislation. You DO require a “suitable
container”, and the law allows for this to be an unfinished wooden box
or “alternative container” made from other composition materials, canvas,
cardboard or pressed wood. Although grave liners and/or burial vaults
are NOT required by state law, some Hawaii cemeteries do stipulate that
they require them to prevent the ground sinking around a cemetery plot.
It is strongly advised that you check a cemetery’s requirements before
committing to purchase a cemetery plot.
What can we do with the cremated
remains? Laws for ash scattering in Hawaii
In Hawaii, there are no state
laws that stipulate where you may keep or scatter ashes. Cremated
remains can be stored in a crypt, niche, grave, or in a container at home.
If you wish to scatter ashes, you have many options. Cremation renders
ashes harmless, so there is no public health risk involved in scattering
ashes, they are basically sterile, organic matter. Use common sense and
refrain from scattering ashes in places where they would be obvious to
Scattering on private land
requires the landowners consent, and it is wise to check local ordnance
zoning if you wish to scatter on public lands. If you wish to scatter
ashes in a state park, you should check if the park in question has any
rules about permits required for ash-scattering.
Of course, sea scattering
is popular in Hawaii but you do need to bear in mind EPA regulations.
A burial at sea should be 3 nautical miles out and a written notification
provided to the local EPA representative within 30 days. Burial At
Sea Coordinator, US EPA Region 9, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA,
94105 Phone: (415) 947-8000
The Hawaii Department of
Land and Natural Resources states that no permit is required for a scattering
ceremony so long as it does not involve a large crowd or multiple vessels.
If you are planning a big ash-scattering ceremony in the waters of Hawaii
you do need to apply for an ‘ocean event permit’ 14 days beforehand from
the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.
Veteran’s funerals in Hawaii
A veteran and certain dependents
are entitled to certain benefits. This is primarily a free cemetery
plot, grave marker and U.S. flag. Certain funeral homes will also
offer discounted funeral services to veterans. The VA cemetery in
Honolulu now has space for cremated remains only. There are 8 state-run
veterans’ cemeteries in: Kaneohe, Hilo, Hanapepe, Makawao, Hoolehua, Kailua-Kona,
and Lanai City. [The cemetery in Hilo is closed to interments] The charge
for a non-veteran spouse (and certain dependents) ranges from no-charge
to $700. To find out more about entitlements for veteran’s benefits
contact your local VA office.
When a Death Occurs Outside
If a loved one dies away from
his/her home in Hawaii, you may wish to arrange to have the body collected
and returned to Hawaii for disposition. Also with a considerable
transplant and retiree population, many of those who settled in Hawaii
aspire to be returned to their homeland upon their death. Transporting
a body internationally can be quite complex but frequently happens.
Visit our page on Funeral
Shipping for more information on domestic and international transfers.
However, in many cases it is often easier and more cost-effective to arrange
a cremation wherever your loved one died and then transport the ashes to
or from Hawaii.
Can I donate my body to science
Donating your body to medical
science has been an end-of-life choice around for some time now, however,
it has certainly gained more popularity in recent times. For many
it now seems a valuable disposition method hence why it is commonly referred
to as an “anatomical gift”. MedCure is a national organization that
offers an anatomical gift program whereby you can donate your body to science
and the benefit of future generations. They arrange the collection
of the deceased, medical donation, cremation of remains and return of cremains
to the family at no charge within 3 – 6 weeks. The University of
Hawaii also operates a whole body donation program.
What help is there for those
on low income with funeral costs in Hawaii?
The state of Hawaii Med-QUEST
Division (MQD) provides assistance to eligible low-income families.
The Funeral Payments Program is limited to medical or financial assistance
recipients who were residents of the State at the time of death or unclaimed
bodies. An application must be submitted within 60-days of the death.
An amount to the extent of $800 is payable to a licensed funeral provider.
Phone (877) 628-5076 for further information.
There is also a $255 lump
sum death benefit payment available from Social Security for those that
qualify. Your funeral director will generally submit this claim on
For further information on
how you can pay for a funeral if you have limited funds, visit our article
on ‘What to do if
you cannot afford a funeral’.
How do I obtain a certified
copy of a death certificate in Hawaii?
The funeral home will usually
obtain the necessary death certificates for you as part of their services.
In Hawaii, the death certificate must be filed with the department of health
within 3 days. (Hawaii Revised Statutes § 338-9.) If you need additional
copies after the death these can be obtained from the Hawaii Department
of Health, and you will need to provide photo ID and your relationship
to the deceased. A death certificate costs $10 for the first copy and $4
for additional copies. You will need certified copies to formally
register the death of the deceased with government institutions, banks
and insurance companies, etc.
If you have a complaint about
how a funeral was conducted in Hawaii
If have a grievance with a funeral
home in Hawaii and they do not resolve it to your satisfaction, you may
take up your complaint with the Hawaii State Department of Health.
You must file a complaint in writing to:
Hawaii Sanitation Branch
Dept. of Health
591 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96813-4921
Phone: (808) 586-8000
Hopefully this guide has
answered some of your immediate questions. Arranging a funeral is
no easy task and there are many decisions to be made, often when you feel
incapable of making decisions. Please check out our Library/Info
section where you will find a catalogue of other articles to assist you
through the funeral planning process.
||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.
Revised: August 30th 2017
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