Online brings you this comprehensive guide outlining your key consumer
rights in order to help you to arrange a funeral or cremation in Washington
and save money on funeral costs.
How do you choose which funeral
home or cremation provider is right for your needs?
Being faced with making funeral
arrangements is daunting, especially if it is the first time you have had
the experience and you are also coping with your loss. The first
important step is to be able to choose a funeral director whom can best
serve the needs of your family. This is not just about arranging
a good ‘send-off’, and supporting you through the funeral arranging process,
it is about understanding your specific death care requirements.
Often families opt to contact a funeral home that they have been recommended
to, or have had prior experience with. This is not always an option,
or the best thing to do. You may want something different, or costs
may be a concern.
This is the other key decision
you must make when you embark on arranging a funeral, and knowing this
before contacting a funeral provider can help you choose and compare funeral
homes. Deciding between burial or cremation is an entirely personal
choice. Cremation is certainly more popular in Washington with around
70% of residents selecting cremation as their preferred end-of-life disposition
choice. Cremation is certainly cheaper than burial, plus many consider
it more environmentally-friendly than traditional burial. For
a cremation to be performed a Disposition Authorization must be completed.
This can be done as part of preplanning and you may sign your own disposition
form, or the surviving next-of-kin can complete the form.
How do I find a funeral home
or cremation provider in Washington?
There are around 419 funeral
businesses in Washington, so you need to narrow down by where you are located
and what your needs are. i.e. burial or cremation, traditional or simple
etc. You can use our directory of Washington funeral homes or use
the links to the main cities on the right. All funeral homes and
cremation providers are listed by city and in zip code order, making it
easy for you to locate and compare funeral homes.
Do you want a burial or cremation?
Can I arrange a ‘home funeral’
or green burial in Washington?
Yes, it is legal in Washington
to conduct your own death care without the services of a funeral director.
A ‘home’ funeral, or green funeral is an alternative option for a burial
in Washington. There are organizations and funeral companies who specifically
assist with home death care and organizing a green burial. However,
you cannot bury your loved one on your own land, burial in Washington must
be in an established cemetery, unless you register the land as a cemetery
and establish a $25,000 perpetual care fund.
What is the cost of a funeral
or cremation in Washington?
This is one question that most
online browsers are searching for. Although funeral homes are required
by law to provide you with a general price list (GPL) if you make any inquiries,
many still do not disclose prices on their websites. Prices can,
and do, vary considerably both between funeral homes, and areas, for the
equivalent services. It is highly recommended that you shop around
and compare prices and reviews for funeral homes.
If you are looking to save
on costs on a funeral or cremation in Washington, you can contact DFS Memorials.
DFS Memorials works in partnership with local, family owned funeral homes
to offer you low cost cremation and burial options.
DFS Memorials - low cost
cremation provider for Washington
Washington Statewide (877) 976-9309
- Direct Cremations $795.00
Sending Funeral Flowers to
a funeral home in Washington
Funeral flowers are an integral
part of funerals. They help to brighten up a somber event and are
a means by which we share our feelings of passion, love, and empathy.
Traditionally the deceased’s family will arrange any casket spray, but
other relatives or friends may chose to add their own floral arrangements,
standing sprays and wreaths. Your funeral director may be able to
offer you floral services, but do ensure their price is competitive.
It is an ancillary service that you will be charged for, and you may find
it can cost more than purchasing directly yourself. If you wish to
manage your budget on funeral flowers and wish to order inexpensive flower
arrangements, US Funerals Online has partnered with BloomsToday to offer
our customers a 25% discount on funeral
flowers in Washington.
Is embalming required in
No, embalming is not required
by law, and refrigeration may be used to store the deceased if there is
not an immediate disposition.
as little as $995. Most
retailers can also offer a next-day delivery.
What are my options for purchasing
a casket or alternative container?
A casket is not required by
law for a burial, but a rigid combustible alternative container is required
for a cremation. This alternative container can be a rigid cardboard
or plywood box. You have the right to purchase a casket from a third-party
casket seller and your funeral home must accept it without adding a surcharge.
This can make a significant saving on your overall funeral costs.
Typically a standard casket from a funeral home can cost around $3,000
whereas you can purchase a standard casket from a retailer or online from
What are burial and cemetery
plot requirements in Washington?
All cemeteries are licensed
by the state but individual cemeteries have their own regulations.
A burial vault is not required by law but some cemeteries will stipulate
one must be used to prevent subsidence and help maintain the integrity
of the earth.
Can I preplan a funeral or
cremation? How does Washington state law govern preneed plans?
Preplanning is a good way to
alleviate your surviving family of the emotional and financial burden of
arranging a funeral. Only a licensed funeral establishment with a
certificate of registration can sell preneed funeral contracts, and this
is funded either via a trust fund or an insurance policy. There is
some skepticism about preneed contracts, and you can just as easily document
your funeral wishes and put aside the appropriate funds in a payable-on-death
(POD) account or Totten Trust. This can be your safest
option for preplanning a funeral.
permitted and no publicity of
What are the laws for scattering
ashes in Washington?
You can scatter cremated remains
on any private land (with the permission of the land owner). To scatter
in National Park land you need permission form the Chief Park Ranger, and
for state trust uplands you need permission from the regional manager.
Details about obtaining a permit to scatter in Mount Rainer National Park
are available here:
No commercial scattering services are permitted to operate and scatter
on state trust uplands. You should scatter ashes on the ground at
least 100 yards from any trail, road, developed building or waterway.
No memorial marker is
Scattering in the Puget Sound,
Pacific Ocean, Lake Washington or any inland water is permitted within
the 3-mile limit as enforced by Region 10 of the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Such scatterings should be reported to the local administrator
of the EPA at 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101 within 30 days of the
Scattering is permitted from
Washington state scheduled ferries (WSF) and 3-5 days notice is required
for a scattering memorial service to be conducted. Ceremonies can
only be held during non-peak sailing times, and only if weather conditions
permit. Ashes must be in a biodegradable container that can be easily dropped.
A member of the WSF crew will accompany a member of your party to the aft
of the ferry into the restricted area so the container may be cast into
the water. At the captain’s discretion, the ferry’s horn may be sounded.
To find out more contact WSF admin on (206) 264-3554.
Only biodegradable containers
and floral tributes should be used for any public scattering purposes.
dependent. Contact your local
VA office for more information. Each county runs its own indigent
burial program and requirements and benefits vary between each county.
Funds for this provision are limited, even more so due to the state of
the economy, and these days just a direct cremation may be funded with
county resources. For more information contact: King County: (206)
732-3232, Snohomish County: (425) 438-6200 and Pierce County: (253) 798-6494.
What help is available with
funeral expenses in Washington?
There is the $255 lump-sum death
payment for those that qualify. Veterans and their dependents may
be entitled to some benefits. There is a VA cemetery in Kent and interment
and the grave marker are free of charge for the veteran, spouse, and certain
dependants. There is also a state-run veterans cemetery in Medical Lake
where a fee is charged to inter a spouse or
Are whole body donations
permitted in Washington?
Yes, you may donate your body
to science. The University of Washington’s School of Medicine accepts
donations and is a non-profit organization. Following the donation
the cremated remains are interred in the community plot at Evergreen-Washelli
Cemetery or can be returned to the family. You should note that not
all donations can be accepted.
US Funerals Online is affiliated
with Medcure who offer a national body bequest program. This is at
no cost to the donor or donor’s family and cremated remains are returned
to the family within 3-4 weeks.
What do you do if your loved
one dies away from Washington?
Sadly this does happen, and
if you wish to ship the body back to Washington, you will need the services
of a mortuary shipper at the place of death who can arrange to prepare
your loved one, complete the necessary documentation and arrange for the
shipping in coordination with the receiving funeral home in Washington.
Average costs for this service are around $3000-$4000, and this is before
you start making funeral arrangements. It can be much less expensive
to arrange a direct cremation at the place of death and have the cremated
remains shipped back. Visit our section on funeral
shipping services to read more.
Where do I get a copy of
a death certificate from in Washington?
To obtain a certified copy of
a death certificate in the Seattle and King County area contact the Office
of Vital Records (OVR) at:
Ninth & Jefferson Building
908 Jefferson St
You can call in person or
order by mail and a copy costs $20.00. If you wish to order online
or by credit card you will need to go through the VitalChek network.
For deaths that occurred
outside of King County, you need:
Washington Department of
Center for Health Statistics
Town Center 1
101 Israel Road SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
If the death occurred within
the last two months you can obtain a certificate from your local district
What should you do if you
have a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?
If you have a complaint about
funeral services or merchandise you have purchased in Washington you can
contact the Washington State Department of Licensing. The details
of how to make a formal complaint and the form to be completed can be downloaded
You can also contact the
local funeral directors association if the funeral home is a member.
Washington State Funeral
1535 SW Dash Point Road
Federal Way, Washington
The People’s Memorial Association
(PMA) was founded in 1939 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
helping Washington residents save money on funerals. They also act
as an advocacy for consumers on all end-of-life matters.
1801 12th Ave Suite A
Seattle, WA 98122
||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 Washington
Memorials Washington State