Arranging a Funeral or Cremation in Virginia



Arranging a Funeral or Cremation in Virginia

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This short outline is aimed at helping you make the initial steps in arranging a funeral or cremation in the state of Virginia.  If you are suddenly faced with the task of arranging a funeral for a loved one who has just passed, it can be an incredibly daunting task.  Most people do not even think about what is involved until they are suddenly thrust into making arrangements, and it can be difficult to remain objective and make decisions when you are overcome with grief.  This is where it can help to enlist some help and support from someone who can help you to make decisions objectively whilst still being compassionate and respectful.

The first thing you are going to need to do is chose a funeral director to handle the funeral services for you.  There are around 350 licensed funeral homes in the state of Virginia.  It will help if you already have a clear idea of what the deceased’s wishes were. Do you wish to arrange a traditional burial, or a cremation?  Does the deceased already own a burial plot or cremation niche? If you can establish some clear criteria before you start looking for a funeral home, it will help you in the selection process. 

If you are reading this article it is likely you either have had no prior experience with a funeral home, or are researching for different services.  It is always recommended to consult with family, friends and associates about their experience and recommendations.  Many turn to the Internet to research about funeral products and services when cost is a factor. 

Finding a funeral home or cremation provider in Virginia

As there are so many funeral homes and crematories to choose from, it can be difficult knowing where to start, and which funeral home can offer best value whilst delivering a dignified service.  At US Funeral Online we have a complete funeral home and cremation provider directory.  All funeral businesses are listed for free and by city in zip code order, making it exceptionally easy for you to locate and compare funeral homes.  Use our resource section at the bottom of this page to access the directory for Funeral Homes in Virginia or locate a Cremation Provider in Virginia.  Or alternatively you can use the left-hand link to the Funeral Homes directory.

What is the cost of a funeral or cremation in Virginia?

The cost of a funeral or cremation can vary depending upon where you live in Virginia.  Typically the more rural you are, and the less competitive the death care industry is in your area, the costs will be higher.  The average cost for a burial is around the $7,000 mark, and the average price for a direct cremation is around $2,000.  These averages can vary depending on the incremental products and services you may select such as caskets, burial plots, cremation urn, funeral flowers and obituary notices.

DFS Memorials - low cost cremation providers for Virginia

Charlottesville Area (434) 202-4500 - Direct Cremations $1495.00
Hampton Roads Area (757) 304-6533 -  Direct Cremations $1345.00
Northern Virginia (703) 997-9323 - Direct Cremations $995.00
Richmond Area (804) 214-7466 - Direct Cremations $1495.00
Roanoke (540) 369-3016 - Direct Cremations $1395.00

Burial or Cremation?

If the deceased did not express a preference, then you may need to decide what type of funeral to arrange.  Today around 32% of Virginians opt for a simple, and less expensive cremation, rather than a burial.  However, your family may have it’s own cemetery, have already pre-purchased a cemetery plot, or prefer a traditional burial service.  Just be in control of what additional services may be offered to you.  A body does not have to be embalmed by law, and this can be quite an additional expense, with no guarantee of preserving the body.  The need for embalming is largely dictated by how soon a funeral can be arranged, and whether an open-casket viewing is required.

Purchasing a Casket in Virginia

Virginia is one of the remaining few states where a casket has to be purchased from the funeral home and cannot be purchased from a third party supplier who does not have a funeral directors’ license.  The mark-up that funeral homes add to a casket can often make it the single most expensive element of the funeral expenses. Funeral homes have been known to mark-up caskets at around 500%. This is why the FTC had introduced the ‘funeral rule’ and encouraged consumers to purchase funeral products from third-party suppliers.  Unfortunately there are a number of states where this rule does not apply, and Virginia is one of them.  If you require a casket, you will
Buying urns and caskets in Virginia
need to purchase one from a licensed funeral home – but we would recommend you price compare between licensed funeral homes.  Another alternative is to purchase a ‘Hope Chest’ and use this to inter the deceased – there is no law to prevent this!

What are the laws governing Scattering Ashes in Virginia?

There are various options for the scattering of cremated remains in Virginia.  If you intend to scatter ashes on private land, you need only the consent of the landowner.  When it comes to scattering on uncontrolled public lands, such as rural woodland, using a common-sense approach seems the best practice.  So long as there are no environmental or health and safety concerns, it seems appropriate to adopt the “don’t ask, don’t tell” methodology!  If it is controlled public space, such as a park, there will be regulations and a permit may be required.

If you wish to scatter ashes off the coast of Virginia, you need to ensure that you are three miles away from the coastline to conform to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as per Code of Federal Regulations at 40 CFR 229.1.  Cremated remains containers must be bio-degradable if they are to be used to release ashes into the water, and flowers or wreaths are permitted so long as they are solely constructed from natural, organic materials and fully decomposable.

You can conduct a sea burial yourself if you have a boat and observe the EPA guidelines, otherwise, there are numerous ‘sea scattering’ charters both attended and unattended.

Virginia falls under Region 3 of the EPA Districts governed by the burial at sea regulations, and written notice must be provided to the EPA Regional contact within 30 days of the burial. 

The contact for Virginia is: Renee Searfoss 
Burial At Sea Coordinator  (
EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 814-2137

Funeral costs in Virginia for traditional funerals or simple cremations

What Help is available with funeral expenses in Virginia?

There is nothing more sad, and crippling, than a family who has to deal with a death when also coping with financial troubles.  Unfortunately a sudden death is not something that we can defer until our finances can cope with it.  If the deceased was a veteran, or the spouse of a veteran, then there may be some assistance available from the Department of Veterans Affairs [].
It may be possible to obtain a payment of $255 from Social Security if the deceased, or the deceased’s family meets the eligibility requirements.  Other than that most of the counties in Virginia have some rules and allowance to defray funeral expenses for those unable to pay.  Although you would need to meet rigid poverty standards to qualify, and have very limited control over the disposition arrangements.

You may also find that your local minister, or charity/community groups may have some kind of funds, or support, to assist with funeral expenses for the needy.

Although they do not always publicize it, many Mom & Pop funeral businesses will offer discounted services to families in need.

Pre-planning a funeral, purchasing burial insurance or pre-need funeral policies

It can greatly help matters to have pre-planned, and/or pre-purchased a funeral.  This can be done by simply contacting a funeral home, establishing your needs and the costs, writing out your wishes and setting aside the appropriate monies for your next-of-kin.  If you purchase a Pre-need funeral plan, these are held in trust and it is important to ensure that the policy is kept safe where family can access it.  Surviving family have often already paid out funeral expenses before they discover that a policy existed! 

Many nursing homes and hospices in Virginia are now requiring evidence of funeral insurance or a pre-need policy before admitting patients, especially where a patient’s existing estate can be swallowed up in their medical expenses, leaving little if nothing for funeral expenses.  Some funeral homes will offer special discounted care packages for those entering palliative care.

Whole Body Donation in Virginia

Donating a body to science (anatomical gift) can be a preferred choice if you desire something completely alternative.  Most universities and medical schools accept whole body donations, and there are also several national anatomical gift programs in the United States.  Not only are you doing something qualitative for humankind, your donation secures a free cremation of the deceased’s remains.  This is often referred to as a “no-cost cremation” by many funeral homes, as they can offer this service to the family for free by liaising with a body donation program.

What do you do if your loved one died away from Virginia?

If your loved one died whilst away from home, this adds further distress to an already stressful situation.  You will need to make arrangements at the place of death, and also with a funeral home in Virginia if you are transporting the remains home for burial.  How complicated this can be depends largely on where they died, and the circumstances of their death. 

If your loved one died overseas, you will need a funeral professional versant in international funeral shipping, able to conduct the necessary services abroad, arrange the consulate paperwork and shipping whilst liaising with your funeral home.  Visit our section on ‘Funeral Shipping’ to read in more detail if you require international funeral shipping services.

If your loved one has passed away in another part of Virginia, or another state in the U.S., then a Mortuary Transport company can be called upon to collect the body to return it to your local funeral home.  Your local funeral director should be able to coordinate this for you.

Funeral Transport can be a significant additional cost to your funeral expenses, so do check this carefully before committing to any services.

The simplest, and most cost-effective, approach when someone has died away from home is often to arrange a direct cremation at the place of death and have the cremated remains shipped back for a memorial service.

Who can I contact if a have a complaint or grievance with a funeral home in Virginia?

It is a rarity that a funeral home fails in their service standards, but it does happen. If you do have a grievance, it is recommended you attempt to resolve this directly with the funeral home in the first instance.  If you cannot do this, then you can contact the Virginia Funeral Directors Association who will assist you.  You can also contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance, which is an independent consumer organization that protects consumers rights in funeral purchases.
Expert Author: Sara J. Marsden

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.

Related Articles:

DFS Memorials
Funeral Homes in Virginia
Last Revised:  06/14/2014
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