guide for Maryland looks at some of the key questions you may have when
faced with a death and making decisions about funeral arrangements.
Each state is licensed and regulated differently, and although there is
federal legislation that governs the funeral industry, it is wise to know
how these laws affect you making funeral or cremation arrangements in Maryland.
specific needs that they want
to ensure a funeral home can meet.
Choosing a funeral home in Maryland
One of the first things to do
once a death occurs, or when the passing of a loved one is imminent, is
to choose a funeral home to handle the funeral services.
There are over 400 funeral
homes and mortuaries in Maryland so you need to consider what criteria
can help you select the right funeral home for your needs. Traditionally
many families opted to call their local funeral home, one situated close
to the hospital or one recommended. Today, that is not always the
case. Families have moved around and sometimes have
Defining some clear criteria
about your funeral arrangement needs can help to narrow down a selection
process. Do you need a local funeral home where you can host services?
Are you looking for full traditional services or something more contemporary?
Are you looking for burial or cremation services? And perhaps most importantly
– is the cost of the funeral a concern?
I am sure it comes as no
surprise when I state that the price of a funeral can vary enormously,
depending upon the service provider and the type of funeral services you
select. The cost for the same service can even vary between funeral
homes in the same area. Doing a little research and comparing services
and prices can be an important part of the selection process.
Who is responsible for paying
the funeral costs?
An individual basically has
2 options – to set up a prepaid funeral contract, or to put monies aside
in readiness for surviving family to access when the need arises.
If neither of these preparations is in place, then it generally falls to
the next of kin and surviving family to pay the funeral expenses.
Where there is no family, such as indigent deaths, the state will arrange
a very basic disposition.
What does an average funeral
cost in Maryland?
This is a common question that
families ask. 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. A survey* of Maryland
funeral homes reported that the average cost of a traditional funeral was
Do be aware that a funeral
home must provide you with price information from their General Price List
(GPL) if you make an inquiry, either by phone or in person. This
is federal law [The Funeral Rule]. If a funeral home fails to provide
you with a price when you make an inquiry they are in breach of the FTC
rule. Unfortunately not all funeral homes openly disclose funeral
prices on their websites, which can make it a difficult task to check and
We strongly recommend that
you DO compare funeral prices and packages between more than one funeral
home. This ensures that you have contracted a “best value” funeral
the Medical Examiner.
A 24-hour legal waiting period must elapse before the cremation can proceed
(Chapter 54. Acts of 1976; Maryland Code, Article 43. Section 3678).
A casket is NOT required for cremation, the law states that a ‘rigid, combustible
container’ be used. You can read more in our article on ‘Understanding
cremation laws and how they affect arranging a cremation’.
How much does a cremation cost
As cremation gains ground as
a funeral alternative to burial, more families are seeking out information
about cremation, particularly how much it costs. The cost of a cremation
largely depends upon the type of cremation service you select. A
cremation service that replaces a traditional burial and involves a ceremony
and typical ancillary services is likely to cost in the region of $4,000.
A cremation cannot be performed
until after identification by the next of kin, the authorized agent or
Arranging a direct cremation
A direct cremation is what is
also referred to as an immediate cremation. It is when the cremation
is performed without any services beforehand. It is the simplest
and most cost-effective means of conducting a cremation disposition.
The deceased is collected, transported to the shelter of the funeral home/crematory,
the legal paperwork is completed and the cremation is performed.
The cremated remains are then returned to the family in a temporary container.
The cost of a direct cremation
in Maryland ranges between $975 to over $7,000*.
What can I do with cremated
remains in Maryland?
As cremation gains popularity,
this presents another issue for families – what to do with the cremated
remains. Cremated remains can be interred in an existing grave plot,
although you may incur fees from the cemetery to do so. Alternatively
you can purchase a niche in a columbarium or store the cremation urn at
home. If you wish to scatter the cremated remains, you can do so
on private land (with the landowners consent). You can also scatter
on public land so long as you observe some due diligence. Human cremated
remains are basically organic elements and pose no risk to the environment.
If you wish to scatter in a public place such as a State Park you should
check with the park ordnance. If your scattering does not interfere
with any park activities, there should be no issue. You do need to
consider that any floral tribute should be entirely biodegradable and you
will find that state parks will not allow any marker for a scattering site.
How do I decide between a burial
or a cremation in Maryland?
The decision of whether to have
a burial or cremation is very much a personal choice. If the
deceased left explicit wishes, this can alleviate family of the decision,
but if not the family has to decide what the deceased may have wanted and
what the family can afford to pay for. Religious beliefs and available
funds for the funeral service can play a significant role in whether a
burial or cremation is chosen. A pre-purchased cemetery plot can
also 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
and faith/family support representatives.
Does the deceased have to be
embalmed in Maryland?
There is no Maryland law that
states you MUST have your loved one embalmed, however, some funeral homes
DO adopt policies that require a body to be embalmed if an open casket
visitation or service is being held.
purchase elsewhere and
cannot charge you a surcharge.
Purchasing a casket or grave
marker in Maryland
Purchasing a casket and/or a
grave marker are large outlays in your funeral expenses. These days
there are more affordable options available but laws for this can vary
by state. We have comprehensive guides to buying a casket or
grave marker, so I would recommend you visit these sections for more detailed
information. Purchasing a casket from a third-party casket retailer
can often save you considerably on funeral home prices for caskets.
A funeral home must (according to the FTC funeral rule) accept a casket
Can I pre-plan a funeral in
Yes, taking out a prepaid funeral
contract is one way to preplan your funeral. Another option is to
document your funeral wishes, evaluate the finances required, and put this
money aside in a POD (Payable on Death) account. This money can then
be accessed immediately upon death by the beneficiary you name.
Funeral costs could, in fact,
be coming down with changes in the funeral industry and the growth of the
cremation trend. Therefore, purchasing a preneed contract today from
a funeral home may not be the safest and most prudent means by which to
preplan a funeral. You can read further in our article ‘What is my
best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral’ in the Library
section of our site.
Conducting a ‘home’ funeral
service in Maryland
I must clarify here that you
do NOT have to employ a funeral director in Maryland if you wish to conduct
your own home death care and funeral. We have moved away from
this cultural ritual in modern times, so you can sometimes face resistance,
but you can legally take care of the deceased and make funeral arrangements
yourself. There are various ‘natural death care’ organizations that
support families with DIY funerals.
budget cuts. You would
need to contact your local county Social Services to inquire if you qualify
for any public aid for funeral expenses. There is also the $255 Social
Security death benefit to claim if you qualify. Veterans do receive
some benefits and you need to contact your local VA office. There
are other support groups such as union groups and charities that may offer
some financial aid if you are struggling to meet the cost of a funeral.
Read our article ‘What are your options on how to pay for a funeral or
cremation?’ in our library section.
Is there any public aid, or
financial assistance program, to help pay for funeral costs in Maryland?
The reality is that there is
very limited funding available in aid to families to help pay for funeral
expenses. Each state has its own municipal budget for indigent burial
assistance to help deal with those who become the responsibility of the
state. Much funding for public aid to families has been cut back
or axed in state
Can I donate my body to science
in the Maryland?
Yes, you can donate your whole
body to science. 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.
Some people are choosing body donation as a ‘no cost’ funeral alternative,
and once a family have the cremated remains returned to them, they then
arrange their own memorial service. Check out our Body Donation section.
Alternatively you can donate direct to a medical school in Maryland.
Anatomy Board of Maryland handles all donations to medical institutions.
They can be reached at: 655 W. Baltimore Street Room B-026, Baltimore,
MD 21201 Phone: (410) 547-1222
How can I transport a loved
one either back to, or from, Maryland after death?
Transporting a loved fback to
Maryland, or repatriating him/her to their homeland, generally requires
a funeral professional who can coordinate arrangements at the place of
death and wherever the body is being shipped to.
If transporting a loved one
between states in the United States you have the option of flying the body,
or transporting the body by land. Certain regulations do apply on
moving a body, and it is likely that embalming may be required as well
as specific containers to hold the casket. 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.
Visit our library section on Funeral Shipping to read more.
Who should I contact if I have
a complaint about a funeral home in Maryland?
If you have a complaint about
the services or merchandise delivered by a Maryland licensed funeral home,
you should attempt to resolve this with the funeral director/owner in the
first instance. If no resolution is found, you may wish to contact
the State Board or the Local Funeral Consumers Alliance Chapter.
Maryland State Board of
Morticians and Funeral Directors, 4201 Patterson Avenue, Baltimore, MD
21215 Phone: (410) 764-4792
Funeral Consumers Alliance
of Maryland & Environs (FCAME), 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814
We trust that 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.
* Consumer’s Checkbook:
Washington DC Area Funeral Homes – accessed November 2013
||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.
Homes in Maryland
Cost Funeral & Cremation Providers in Maryland