funeral or cremation is a daunting task. There are so many decisions
to be made and you can be overwhelmed by this, especially if the death
has already occurred.
This guide to arranging a
funeral or cremation in Louisiana aims to provide a starting point and
give you an overview of some of the main things you need to consider, including
Louisiana funeral legislation rules. Whilst the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) does govern how funeral homes operate, this is superseded by Louisiana
Who is responsible for making
the funeral arrangements in Louisiana?
Louisiana law determines who
can make the funeral arrangements [Statute § 37:876]. This is
you or a person appointed by
you, if you appoint an agent (you must make a declaration and sign the
document before a notary public)
your surviving spouse (if you
have not filed for divorce)
your adult children
your next living kin
a district court judge
seeking a more contemporary
life celebration service, or a cremation? Is the cost of the funeral
an issue, are you working to a tight budget and looking to save money where
you can on funeral expenses? Do you want the services of an African-American
black funeral home? Obviously having some clear ideas of what you
do need from a funeral home helps you make the decision of which funeral
home is right for you. Our funeral home directory can help you to
locate the funeral homes near you.
Choosing a Funeral Home in Louisiana
One of the first things to do,
especially if a death has just occurred, is to choose a funeral home to
handle the funeral services. All funeral homes in Louisiana are licensed
by the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.
There are in the region of
500 funeral homes and mortuaries in Louisiana. Selecting a funeral
service provider can be determined by both your location and what kind
of funeral services you require. Are you looking for a traditional funeral
or burial service? Or are you
Families often seek recommendations
from family or friends, and this is a very good way to get information.
However, funeral costs are probably the primary reason why many families
are now seeking out alternative options to their local funeral home.
If you are concerned about arranging an affordable funeral our featured
provider above serves the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas offering dignified
and inexpensive funerals and cremations.
What does an average funeral
cost in Louisiana?
The average cost of a funeral
in the U.S. is $7,045 (according to the NFDA - National Association of
Funeral Directors 2012), and this does not include any cemetery fees.
This generally means that the full cost of a funeral can amount to nearer
to $10,000 when cemetery fees are included. The cost for a funeral
can be broken down into several components – the funeral director’s professional
service charges, casket, embalming, transportation and ancillary costs
such as flowers, music, prayer cards, obituary etc.
All funeral homes in Louisiana
area must have a general price list (GPL) that outlines their service charges
and funeral merchandise prices. They must provide a copy of their
GPL when they quote you a price according to the Federal Trade Commission’s
‘The Funeral Rule’. When arranging a funeral you often end up with
a range of charges from the GPL in an a la carte style, and this can result
in a cost higher then you first imagined. Sometimes choosing a funeral
package, which offers an inclusive service and pricing, can help you manage
your overall funeral expenses.
It is recommended that you
DO shop around and compare funeral prices between more than one funeral
home. That way you can be sure that you have a “best value” funeral
Who is responsible to pay for
funeral costs in Louisiana?
Generally a person has 2 options
– to prepay and preplan a funeral or leave enough money for surviving family
to pay for the funeral. If neither of these options have been put
in place, then surviving family is liable for the funeral bill.
families. A direct cremation
means that there are no services, the cremation goes ahead once all the
documentation has been completed and then the cremated remains are returned
to the family in a temporary container. Incremental options, such
as a private family viewing or an upgraded cremation urn, can be added
to a basic direct cremation package for an additional fee.
How much does a cremation cost
A typical cremation funeral
service will cost in the region of $3,900 (depending upon the ancillary
services/products you select). This is the type of cremation service
that replaces a full traditional funeral. It is possible to arrange
a cremation for considerably less than this.
Arranging a direct cremation
This is the least expensive
cremation option for
How do I decide between a burial
or a cremation in Louisiana?
Choosing between burial or cremation
is very much a personal choice. The deceased may have left
explicit wishes or surviving family may have to make a decision.
Faith and/or funds for the funeral service can play a significant role
in whether a burial or cremation is chosen. Having a pre-existing
cemetery plot can be an important aspect as burial plots can be quite expensive
to purchase these days. Cremation is certainly on the increase in
the United States, and is becoming a popular funeral alternative for many
now. Green burials are also another option that can be considered.
If you are unsure whether
to choose between burial or cremation, talk to family and friends, and
discuss the decision with your funeral director. Just be aware that
a funeral director is running a business, and may not always have a completely
How do cremation laws in Louisiana
affect arranging a cremation?
Each state has its own laws
governing cremation procedures. A crematory and/or funeral home must
abide by certain practice standards in disposing of human remains by cremation.
However, certain regulations can vary by state. In Louisiana 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.
There is no mandatory waiting period. 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.
What can I do with cremated
remains – laws for ash scattering in Louisiana
As more families are turning
to cremation as a lower cost funeral alternative, the question arises about
what to do with the cremated remains? Cremation ashes can be interred
in a dedicated cemetery (just as a body can) in a cremation niche or an
existing grave plot. (Do bear in mind there may be opening and closing
fees to open an existing family grave plot.) Alternatively the ashes
can be scattered.
You can scatter ashes on
private property (with the landowners consent) and Louisiana Statute 37
§880 does allow for the cremated remains of more than one person to
be commingled when ashes are scattered on private property.
If you wish to scatter ashes
on public land, you can generally do so unless it is on land requiring
a permit. You should observe common sense guidelines for ash scattering
as outlined in our ash scattering section. The cremated remains of
more than one person cannot be commingled unless a scattering is being
conducted by air, in water or at sea. Louisiana is in Region 6 of
the Environmental Protection Agency and any sea scattering in the Gulf
[3 nautical miles to sea] is governed by the EPA. A form should be
completed and submitted within 30 days of the scattering.
EPA Region 6 (South Central),
1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202 Phone: (214) 665-6444
Does the deceased have to be
embalmed in Louisiana?
There is no legal requirement,
or Louisiana law, stipulating that you have to have the deceased embalmed.
However, either embalming or refrigeration is required if the disposition
does not proceed within 30 hours. [Statute 51 §103] Therefore,
you do have choices, and if you do not wish for embalming you need to have
a timely funeral or a cremation. You may also wish to check, when
consulting funeral homes, that they can offer refrigeration storage and
what the daily cost is.
Some funeral homes do adopt
policies that insist upon embalming if a public viewing or service is being
held with the deceased in repose.
Can I conduct a home funeral
Louisiana is one of only 8 states
in the U.S. where you do legally have to employ a funeral director to conduct
a disposition. There is no reason why you cannot still proceed with
caring for your deceased but you will need a funeral director involved,
and the deceased must be buried or cremated within 30 hours.
If you wish to bury your
loved one at home on your own land and establish a family cemetery, you
must first check with the parish registrar about any local zoning. Then
you file the following forms with the state Cemetery Board:
A grave marker cannot ordinarily
be erected until some months after a burial. This allows the earth
to settle and ensures that once erected the headstone will not subside.
Cemeteries generally have their own regulations that dictate what is allowed
in terms of types of grave markers. It is wise to carefully check
the cemetery rules before purchasing a memorial marker. However,
you should not have to purchase a marker from the cemetery if you do not
Purchasing a casket or grave
marker in Louisiana
Louisiana has made national
news with its law that only allowed a licensed funeral establishment to
sell caskets. Across the U.S. the funeral industry has been revolutionized
by the FTC Funeral Rule allowing consumers to purchase caskets from a third-party
seller that their funeral home must accept. Now Walmart and Costco
even sell caskets! However, the monks of St Joseph Abbey in Louisiana
fought and won their case [October 2013] to sell their handcrafted wooden
coffins in Louisiana without the need to license as a funeral establishment.
Can I pre-plan a funeral in
Yes, and pre-planning your funeral
alleviates family of both the difficult decisions and the financial burden
of funeral expenses. You can make pre-need funeral arrangements direct
with a funeral home or purchase burial insurance.
What you DO need to consider
is how safely you are investing your money. Although purchasing a
funeral plan may secure your funeral wishes, funeral prices are not as
fixed as they once were. With the growth in cremation, the cost for
a funeral could actually be coming down. Any funds invested into
a funeral contract are put into a trust fund.
Another funeral planning
alternative is to document your wishes and put aside the appropriate funds
in a POD Payable on Death account or a Totten Trust. This enables
family to access the funds at the time of need and make the funeral arrangements,
but you keep in control of your monies and any accrued interest.
Read more in our article ‘What is my best and safest option for putting
aside money for a funeral’.
Can I donate my body to science
Yes, donating your body to science
can be a great way to take care of your disposition without any funeral
expenses. Most of the national organizations that deal with full
body donation handle everything from the moment you notify them of the
death, including collecting the body, the donation, the free cremation
and the return of the cremated remains to the family a few weeks later.
It is worth noting that a donation cannot always be accepted at the time
of death, so you should have an alternative plan in reserve. Check
out our Body Donation section.
pauper burial assistance.
The state is responsible for the disposition of indigents or any individual
who becomes a responsibility of Louisiana. You need to contact your
parish human services or social services to find out what help may be available.
The deceased had no life insurance
– what do I do if I cannot afford a funeral?
If you find yourself liable
to make funeral arrangements for a lost loved one, and you do not have
sufficient funds, this can be very distressing. There is very limited
financial aid for funerals and this varies by parish. In such cases
the coroner may make arrangements with a funeral home and costs should
not exceed the actual minimal cost of a burial. Generally a fixed
amount is set that the parish or state will pay for
A simple cremation is the
least expensive disposition option.
How can I transport a loved
one either back to, or from, Louisiana after death?
If a loved one needs to be transported
following their death, you will need the services of a funeral director
who can arrange funeral shipping for you. This generally needs a
funeral professional who can coordinate arrangements at the place of death
and wherever the body is being shipped to.
Certain regulations do apply
on moving a body, embalming and a transit permit are required as well as
specific containers to hold the casket. The deceased can only be
transported in a “closed vehicle designed exclusively for the transportation
of dead human bodies” [Statute 51 §107] Shipping
a body can be quite expensive, so the other alternative you have is to
have the body cremated at the place of death, and then transport back the
cremated remains. Cremated remains can be shipped through the US
Postal Service for between $25 - $75.
Visit our section on Funeral
Shipping to find out more.
Who should I contact if I have
a complaint about a funeral home in Louisiana?
Hopefully you will find the
services of your funeral home more than adequate, as most funeral professionals
are very dedicated in their vocation. Unfortunately though, it does
sometimes happen that you may have a complaint or grievance with a funeral
home and you do not manage to resolve it directly with the funeral director.
In this case you should make your complaint in writing to the Louisiana
State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors who regulate and license
funeral businesses in Louisiana. They can be contacted at:
3500 N. Causeway Blvd. Suite 1232, Metairie, LA 70002 Toll-free Phone:
(888) 508-9083 The complaint affidavit can be downloaded here:
I hope this guide has helped
to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our
Library/info section for our full catalogue of resources to help you through
the process of arranging a funeral. Feel free to contact us if we
can be of any assistance with any further questions you may have.
||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: January 20th
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