guide from US Funerals Online aims to help residents of North Carolina
plan or arrange a funeral or cremation, understanding how local state law
affects their purchasing options. The Federal Trade Commission’s
‘funeral rule’ outlines federal legislation that governs licensed funeral
homes in the sale of funeral goods and services and protects consumers’
rights. However, some state’s funeral boards have such a powerful
lobby that local state funeral legislation supersedes federal law.
How do you choose which funeral
home or cremation provider is right for your needs?
A funeral or cremation is often
referred to as a “distressed purchase”, and this is because it is a large,
single purchase that most people make when recently bereaved and at a time
of extreme emotional distress. For this reason, we may not make the
best decisions, and are easily swayed by those advising us.
One of the most important
aspects of arranging a funeral is to ensure you select the ‘right’ funeral
provider. Finding a funeral home or cremation provider who can cater
for exactly what you need, and who understands you needs implicitly, can
make the whole funeral and bereavement process so much easier to contend
Too often people tend to
just go to the funeral director that they either already know of, or were
recommended to, and this may not necessarily be who is best for your needs.
Try and clearly outline what your key needs are before consulting a funeral
home. Do you want a burial, or a cremation? Is there urgency in arranging
the funeral, or do you need time to arrange for family to attend?
Does the funeral home need to be very close for visitation purposes?
Or are you happy to use the services of a funeral home further a field?
How important is the cost? Funeral expenses can vary significantly
between funeral homes, even in the same area, so shopping around can be
very important. Once you have framed a clear outline of your key
priorities and needs for a funeral, you can narrow down whom potential
suitable providers will be.
The North Carolina Board
of Funeral Service (NCBFS) licenses all funeral establishments in North
Carolina. You should ensure you are dealing with a reputable, licensed
funeral home when selecting a funeral establishment.
As mentioned earlier, this is
probably the single most important decision that affects your funeral planning.
Deciding between burial or cremation is an entirely personal choice, either
of the deceased or the surviving family. Burial is still more popular
in North Carolina but the cremation trend is affecting all states, and
we are seeing more North Carolinians opting for cremation. Cost is
most definitely a significant factor in the rising cremation rate.
An average burial costs $7,755 (NFDA 2012), which doesn’t include the cost
of the cemetery plot, whereas an average cremation costs around $3,000.
There is a mandatory 24-hour waiting period in North Carolina before a
cremation can be performed.
How do I find a funeral home
or cremation provider in North Carolina?
Well, you are already at the
right place. There are over 1,000 funeral homes in the state of North
Carolina. US Funerals Online has a complete directory of all funeral
homes and cremation providers in North Carolina, listed by city in zip
code order. Use the shortcut links to the main cities on the right,
or visit our directory of funeral homes in North Carolina.
Do you want a burial or cremation?
Can I arrange a ‘home funeral’
or green burial in North Carolina?
Yes, it is legal to conduct
a home funeral in North Carolina and there are no laws that specifically
prohibit burial on your own land, although you should check with local
county zoning. Family-directed funerals where the family manage the
death care of their loved one at home are experiencing something of a revival,
especially as it can provide a more intimate, personal and less expensive
funeral option. There are three natural green burial sites in North
Carolina, and you can find support from local organizations that advocate
for home funerals. The Funeral Consumer Alliance groups listed below
can direct you to your nearest support group.
What is the cost of a funeral
or cremation in North Carolina?
This is the question that many
people turn to the Internet to find out these days. Unfortunately,
it is the one element that many funeral homes leave out of their websites.
There is not always a simple answer, and many a funeral home will tell
you this, as they will offer a whole array of ‘a la carte’ services.
The bottom line is that a
funeral or cremation can cost you as much as you want to spend. But
more importantly, if finance is an issue, and you are concerned about how
much a funeral is going to cost you, be sure to look for fixed package
deals where you can be sure of the total price.
If you are worried about
funeral costs and are searching for a low cost option, the DFS Memorials
provider for North Carolina can provide a basic cremation for $995.00.
They are based in Fayetteville but offer a statewide service for those
seeking a simple, affordable option. Call (910) 212-6383.
What help is available with
funeral expenses in North Carolina?
With more and more people struggling
financially today, this is a question that is being raised more frequently.
The kind of, and level of, help with funeral expenses varies considerably
between states and even between counties. In some areas there is
county-level support for indigents, and those on welfare or low income,
to assist them meet funeral costs. This support can be extremely
minimal and may only cover a very basic direct disposition. For this
reason, the state is now dealing with more ‘unclaimed bodies’, where family
sadly walk away because they have no money. In these cases, after
10 days the body is offered to the Commissioner of Anatomy and/or the Chief
Medical Examiner arranges the final disposition.
If you are struggling to
meet funeral expenses, you may wish to consider the following: A
body donation to science – this can be a means to cover the disposition
at no cost. Read more below about donating a body to science in North
Carolina. There is a one-time death benefit from the SSA of $255 for those
that qualify. You may also find it useful to read our article on
‘What are your options on how to pay for a funeral or cremation?’ listed
in the related articles at the bottom of this page. It covers just
about every possibility of how you can raise funds to cover funeral expenses.
If the deceased was a veteran
or a dependent of a veteran, they are entitled to certain benefits such
as a cemetery plot and grave marker. The VA cemeteries in Raleigh,
New Bern and Wilmington are now closed for interments but Salisbury has
space for both casketed and cremated interments. There are also three
state-run veteran cemeteries in Spring Lake, Jacksonville and Black Mountain.
Contact your local VA office to find out more.
Sending funeral flowers in North
If you wish to send funeral
flowers in North Carolina, US Funerals Online has partnered with BloomsToday
to offer our visitors a 25% discount on sending sympathy and funeral flower
Is embalming required in North
No, embalming is not required
by law, however you may find that some funeral homes have policies that
require embalming if an open-casket service is to be conducted or if the
body is to be held in storage at their establishment for an extended period
Do not feel pressured to
have your loved one embalmed if you do not wish to. It can be important
to check a potential establishment has refrigerated storage if you are
specifically keen to avoid embalming.
For a cremation the law requires
that a “suitable, rigid combustible container” be used. This can
be a sturdy cardboard box.
What are my options for purchasing
a casket or alternative container?
In North Carolina state law
allows for you to purchase a casket from a third-party seller as according
to the FTC’s funeral rule. This can make a significant saving on
the cost of a casket, and your funeral home MUST accept your casket and
cannot charge a handling fee. However, due to the impact of this
rule on casket sales for funeral homes, many are now willing to price-match
a casket price from a retailer. If you consult with a funeral home
about caskets they MUST supply you with a Casket Price List (CPL).
Bear in mind that the state law does NOT require that a casket be used
What are burial and cemetery
plot requirements in North Carolina?
Firstly as mentioned above there
is no law prohibiting burial on your own land in North Carolina, however,
certain local ordnances may apply and you should adhere to guidelines that
require burial to be at least 300 feet from any public water supply. It
is also suggested to avoid any power lines and any boundaries, and there
must be at least 18 inches of soil on top of the casket or coffin.
It is recommended to produce a map marking the location of any burial sites.
For burial in a designated
cemetery, there is no law that requires a burial vault, however many cemeteries
have their own regulations and many stipulate burial vaults must be used.
This is largely to protect the integrity of the land but is also a huge
way that cemeteries make additional revenue. Because cemeteries have
quite strict regulations, it is highly recommended you thoroughly check
the ‘rules’ at any cemetery before you commit to a cemetery plot.
Regulations can affect such things as costs to open and close a grave,
the erection of a grave marker and the kind of perpetual care that is included.
Can I preplan a funeral or cremation?
How does North Carolina state law govern preneed plans?
Yes, you can preplan a funeral
or cremation in North Carolina. The state requires that only licensed
funeral establishments may sell preneed contracts, and they must obtain
a special license to sell such contracts. Preneed contracts may be
funded either through a trust fund or through an insurance policy.
There has long been some controversy about preneed trust funds and how
safe they are, so you should carefully consider the details and terms of
any contract. Particularly such things as how secure it is, what
happens if you move or if you wish to cancel? Do consider that a
safe alternative is to put aside appropriate funds in a Payable-on-death
(POD) account so family can access this at the time to cover funeral expenses.
wait a little time before scattering,
just to be sure about the decision, as it is of course irreversible.
Alternatively, choose to keep a small amount of ashes in a keepsake urn
What are the laws for scattering
ashes in North Carolina?
As the cremation rate increases,
so more people are opting to scatter their loved one’s remains. State
law in North Carolina permits for the scattering of cremated remains on
private land (with the consent of the landowner). Ashes may also
be scattered over any uninhabited public land, public waterways or at sea,
so long as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and commonsense
guidelines are adhered to. If you scatter the ashes yourself, the general
guidance is to scatter at least 100 yards from any road, trail, body of
water or developed facility. It is perhaps advisable to
If you wish to scatter ashes
off the coast of North Carolina or at Cape Hatteras or Okracoke, you will
need to notify the regional EPA office within 30 days. Environmental
Protection Agency [Region 4 ], Attn: Gary Collins, 61 Forsyth Street Southwest,
Atlanta, GA 30303 Phone: (404) 562-9395
Sea scattering must take
place three nautical miles at sea and only biodegradable flowers and containers
may be used.
Are whole body donations permitted
in North Carolina?
Yes, you can donate your body
to science in North Carolina. It can be a unique way to do something
to help future generations. Wake Forest University’s Baptist Medical
Center accepts donations for educational purposes. Transportation
to the facility is the responsibility of the family and the cremated remains
are returned to family after two years.
US Funerals Online works
with Biogift, a national body donation program, who offer a service which
includes free collection of the deceased, transfer to a facility, and the
return of the cremated remains within 3 – 4 weeks.
Do bear in mind that not
all donations are accepted at the time of death. It is preferable
to have preplanned a donation and have completed the necessary paperwork.
There are certain restrictions on suitability for donation purposes.
What do you do if your loved
one dies away from North Carolina?
Unfortunately this can happen
more often these days, as we are a more mobile society. If your loved
one dies away from North Carolina, you will need to consider whether to
make arrangements to have the body transported back, or have a cremation
at the place of death and the cremated remains shipped back. You
can find out more about this on our funeral shipping section.
Where do I get a copy of a death
certificate from in North Carolina?
Copies of a death certificate
can be obtained from N.C. Vital Records. The office is at: North
Carolina Vital Records (Cooper Memorial Health Building)
225 N. McDowell St., Raleigh,
Each copy costs $24.00,
with each additional copy charged at $15.00. If a same-day service
is required, add an additional $15.00.
What should you do if you have
a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?
If you should have reason to
be dissatisfied with the services or products provided to you by a licensed
funeral home in North Carolina, you can make a formal complaint to: North
Carolina Board of Funeral Service, 1033 Wade Avenue, Suite 108, Raleigh,
NC 27605 Phone: (919) 733-9380 More
||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.
Carolina Board of Funeral Service (NCBFS)
Carolina Cemetery Commission
Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont
Consumers Alliance of Western North Carolina
Consumers Alliance of the Triangle
Consumers Alliance of Coastal Carolina
Last Revised: 06/08/2013