|It can be an
overwhelming task arranging a funeral, whether you are preplanning or are
dealing with an unexpected death of a loved one, and this guide aims to
try and help you. We have highlighted some of the main decisions
you may need to make. Licensing laws and regulations pertaining to
the operation of a funeral business can vary by state. The Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) funeral rule does give you some protection as a
consumer and it is wise to ensure you know where you legally stand in terms
of purchasing funeral services and merchandise.
How do you choose which funeral
home or cremation provider that is right for your needs?
Choosing the ‘right’ funeral
home can be very important to ensuring your funeral needs are met. Traditionally
many people just opted for the local funeral home they knew of, or had
been referred to. But tradition is changing, and people can often
have specific funeral requirements that they need to have met, such as
working to a tight budget or wanting something more unconventional.
It is always wise to ask around and check reviews on funeral homes, and
we would recommend you compare services and costs between providers, as
these can vary considerably. It will help to be clear about what
your basic needs are to help you narrow down your selection process.
How do I find a funeral home
or cremation provider in South Carolina?
There are over 650 funeral homes,
cemeteries and crematories in South Carolina. US Funerals Online lists
all funeral establishments in our ‘Funeral homes’ directory, by state,
city and in zip code order. This does make it easy for you to locate
and review the funeral homes and cremation providers in your area.
You can also use the short cut links to the main cities in South Carolina
on the top-right hand side of this page.
This is probably the single
most important decision to be made initially. Choosing between burial
or cremation should be an entirely personal choice. Burial has traditionally
been the preferred disposition choice in South Carolina, however, times
are changing and cremation is gaining popularity. Cost can be a driving
factor in making this decision today, as the average burial costs around
$7,755 (according the National Funeral Directors Association 2012), and
this does not include cemetery costs. In comparison the average cremation
in South Carolina can cost around $3,000. Although cost should not
be the determining factor in deciding between burial or cremation, the
brutal reality today is that for many, affordability is the deciding factor.
If a cremation is performed there is a mandatory 24-hour waiting period,
and the next of kin must sign a cremation authorization form.
Who is responsible for making
the funeral arrangements?
Generally an immediate member
of the family makes the funeral arrangements. There is a stature
that dictates the legal order of responsibility. The deceased’s spouse
takes precedence then children over the age of 18, parents, siblings and
further next of kin. If there is any confusion or conflict regarding
funeral arrangements you can consult your funeral home, funeral mediator
or an attorney.
Do you want a burial or cremation?
Can I arrange a ‘home funeral’
or green burial in South Carolina?
Yes, it is perfectly legal to
conduct your own home funeral in South Carolina. The SC Code of Regulations
61-19 governs this. You need to file a death certificate within 5
days of the death. You will also need to apply for a Burial-Removal-Transit
(BRT) permit to transport the deceased. The BRT permit is issued
by a registrar or county coroner.
South Carolina has 2 green
burial cemeteries – Greenhaven Preserve at Eastover and Ramsey Creek Preserve
at Westminster. You may also bury on your own land, but you should
check with local zoning ordnance first, and ensure any burial plot is mapped
and secured with the property deeds. You do need to ensure that any burial
plot is at least 150 feet from any water supply and 25 feet from any power
lines or land boundaries.
If you do wish to carry out
your own home death care for a lost loved one, there are support organizations
that can assist you. While it may be legal to conduct your own death
care in SC, some institutions may refuse to release the body of the deceased,
unless a funeral director is involved. There are a number of coroners
that also operate as funeral directors, further complicating the issue.
If you are interested in a home funeral it can help to plan ahead, and
then you can enlist support and be prepared for any conflicts. Check
out our related article about DIY Funeral Care at the bottom of this page.
What is the cost of a funeral
or cremation in South Carolina?
This is a key question that
people turn to the Internet to find out these days. We are a nation
of price-conscious online shoppers, used to finding and comparing deals
online. Finding out the cost of a cremation or traditional funeral
in South Carolina is not always easy. For starters many funeral homes
do not openly disclose funeral prices on their websites. You also
have to be mindful of comparing like-for-like, and be aware that the cost
for a cremation or burial can vary tremendously, even within the same area.
It is important to shop around and compare services and prices. Be wary
of discount offers that may not include all service charges.
The DFS Memorials provider
for South Carolina offers a range of affordable options – a complete direct
cremation is $950 and traditional funeral packages start at $1,900.
Call Brian on (803) 221-0261 for more information.
Sending funeral flowers in South
Flowers have long been a traditional
aspect of a funeral service. If you need to send funeral flowers
to a funeral home in South Carolina, US Funerals Online is affiliated with
BloomsToday who offer everyday low prices and a 25% discount on selected
sympathy flowers. Visit our Funeral Flowers selection.
Is embalming required in South
No, embalming is not legally
required. However, many funeral homes will suggest embalming if a
viewing or open casket service is required. If you feel strongly
that you do not wish to have your loved one embalmed, there is no reason
to if you arrange a timely burial or cremation. Embalming merely
delays the onset of decomposition and is an additional cost. Embalming
costs in SC range from $300 to $1,995.
a funeral service, and some
funeral homes had been known to add a 400-600% mark-up. Today, you
can buy a casket from Walmart or CostCo for as little as $995. Casket
prices from funeral homes in South Carolina vary considerably, but many
will now offer more competitive casket prices to price-match online casket
What are my options for purchasing
a casket or alternative container?
A casket is not required by
law, and only a rigid wooden, corrugated, fiberboard, or metal “alternative
container” is required for cremation. The FTC’s ‘Funeral Rule’ stipulates
that a consumer has the right to purchase a casket from elsewhere than
their funeral home, and the funeral home MUST accept it without any surcharge.
This ruling radically revolutionized casket sales, although some states
have managed to lobby against the ruling.
A casket is perhaps the single
most expensive item of
What are burial and cemetery
plot requirements in South Carolina?
As I mentioned earlier, you
can conduct a home burial in South Carolina and set up a family burial
plot on your own land. If you opt for a designated municipal, private,
community or church cemetery, it would be wise to thoroughly check any
cemetery regulations before committing to a burial plot. Burial vaults
are NOT required by law, but many cemeteries require burial vaults or liners
as part of their regulations. Cemetery regulations also govern such
things as fees and arrangements for opening and closing a burial plot,
guidelines for what kind of marker can be erected and what kind of perpetual
care is included. It is wise to have thoroughly checked all regulations
before purchasing a plot.
Can I preplan a funeral or cremation?
How does South Carolina state law govern preneed plans?
Yes, you can preplan a funeral
or cremation plan. This is what is generally referred to as ‘preneed’.
In South Carolina only a licensed funeral director (employed by a licensed
funeral home) can sell preneed contracts and these are held in a trust
Before you purchase any preneed
contract do carefully check the provisions, and what consumer protection
and refund on cancellation there is.
Although we at US Funerals
Online believe that preplanning a funeral can save tremendous stress for
surviving family, we do advocate that prepaying for a funeral must be very
thoroughly considered. Apart from funeral scams, there have been
trust funds that have failed to pay out adequately. It can be far
safer to set up a POD account and deposit an appropriate amount to cover
funeral expenses that the POD beneficiary can withdraw upon death.
You can read more about this in our related articles below.
is conducted away from public
areas and no memorial or shrine is erected at the scattering site.
Only biodegradable materials can be used. In most cases the state
park does not require a permit. It is suggested you scatter at least
100 yards from any trail, body of water or developed facility.
What are the laws for scattering
ashes in South Carolina?
According to SC stature Section
32-8-345 it is the crematory or licensed funeral establishment that has
responsibility for the final disposition of cremated remains. Cremated
remains may be disposed of by “placing in a grave, crypt, niche, by scattering
them in a scattering area, or in any manner on the private property of
a consenting owner. If cremated remains are disposed of on public lands
or water, all state and federal laws apply.”
Some state parks do allow
ash scattering as long as it
If you wish to scatter off
the coast of South Carolina at sea, you should observe the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines that a sea burial must be conducted
3 nautical miles off the coast. South Carolina is in Region 4 of
the EPA and contact details can be found on the EPA website.
The scattering of cremated
remains is still somewhat of an ‘un-policed’ matter, and you should use
commonsense guidelines. Cremated remains are basically organic, sterile
matter and so are of no detriment or harm to the environment. So
long as you are not scattering anywhere that could offend someone, you
should feel free to conduct a scattering wherever you chose.
You should note that many
cemeteries have set up ‘scattering gardens’ to facilitate the scattering
of remains, however, they will want to charge you for this, as they will
to inter ashes within a pre-existing gravesite, or even to scatter on top
of an existing burial plot. If you truly wish to scatter ashes, with
no requirement for a designated interment, you should be able to do it
without incurring a cost.
What help is available with
funeral expenses in South Carolina?
We are being asked this question
frequently today as many folks struggle to pay out funeral costs.
There is, unfortunately, very limited assistance. Social Security
pays out a lump sum death benefit of $255 (if you qualify), and veteran’s
and certain dependents are entitled to certain benefits. A veteran
is entitled to a free cemetery plot and grave marker and US flag.
Dependents may be entitled to a burial plot. There are 3 VA cemeteries
in South Carolina, in Beaufort, Columbia and Florence. There is also a
state-run veterans cemetery at Anderson. To find out more about veteran’s
benefits contact your local VA office.
If you are concerned about
paying for a funeral, do read our article below about your ‘options for
how to pay for a funeral’. It does provide some useful tips on alternative
ways to finance funeral expenses. Most importantly, consult with
support agencies and groups, and do not panic alone. Bear in mind
that a simple, direct cremation or immediate burial is your most cost-effective
option. The DFS Memorials provider for SC can offer a direct cremation
for $850 complete.
Are whole body donations permitted
in South Carolina?
Yes, you can opt to donate your
body to science. There are 2 Universities that do offer anatomical
donation programs. The Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston
does not cover transportation costs and the family must pay for this:
Medical University of South
Department of Anatomy
171 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425
The ‘Gift Of Body Program’
at the University of South Carolina in Columbia does offer a program and
will usually cover the transportation costs.
Do bear in mind that registering
to donate is no guarantee that the donation will be accepted at the time
of death. You should have a reserve plan.
What do you do if your loved
one dies away from South Carolina?
It can be extremely stressful
if a loved one should die whilst away from home. If you wish to repatriate
the deceased back to South Carolina, or indeed from SC to another state
or country, you will need the services of a mortuary shipper. You
can read more information about this on the Funeral Shipping section of
US Funerals Online.
Where do I get a copy of a death
certificate from in South Carolina?
To obtain a copy of a death
certificate you need to apply to South Carolina Department of Health and
Environmental Control (DHEC). You must have photo ID to make an application,
complete the application form and pay the $12.00 application fee.
You can apply in person, by mail or online. Processing time differs
depending on your method of application. In person it takes about
45 minutes, and by mail or online it can take up to 7 days. The state
office is located at: 2600 Bull St., Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 898-3630.
You can also apply in person through the regional or county offices.
Locations can be found here:
What should you do if you have
a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?
If you should have a grievance
against a licensed funeral director or funeral home in South Carolina,
you should attempt to resolve it directly with the establishment in the
first instance. If you are unable to reach a resolution you can make
a formal complaint to:
S. C. Department of Labor,
Licensing and Regulation
Office of Investigations
P. O. Box 11329
Columbia, S.C. 29211
Funeral Consumer organizations
in South Carolina
The Funeral Consumers Alliance
has a chapter in South Carolina. They offer consumer guidance and
Funeral Consumers Alliance
2701 Heyward St.
Columbia, SC 29205
||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 South Carolina
Last Revised: 06/08/2013
Memorials - Low Cost Funeral & Cremation Providers in South Carolina