is growing in popularity as a disposition choice, we are finding that more
people are searching online to find out the laws for cremation in their
state. As a body is completely reduced to just ashes in the cremation
process, there are quite strict laws governing the cremation of a body.
There are licensing and operational requirements for crematories, and state
laws governing who can authorize a cremation and how long after a death
a cremation can be performed.
Who can authorize a
The next-of-kin is normally
considered the person responsible for authorizing a cremation. In
some states this is referred to as the “authorizing agent”. For a
cremation to go ahead an authorization form or declaration for disposition
of cremated remains must be signed by the next-of-kin.
Once the death certificate
and authorization form have been filed, the county in which the cremation
is to take place issues a cremation permit. The charge for the cremation
permit is often added to the general price for a cremation, as is the fee
for the death certificate. The cost for a cremation permit varies
depending on the issuing county, but is usually between $10-$40.
Do cremation providers
need to be licensed?
state and local laws on cremation vary?
Each state, and even each
county, has its own variations on federal regulations governing the cremation
process. There is usually at least a 24-hour waiting period before
the deceased can be cremated, but in some states the law on cremation states
that 48-hours must lapse between the death and the cremation. The
coroner or public health department can override this if there is a public
health concern and the body must be immediately disposed of.
Yes, all cremation providers
are regulated and have to be licensed. There are also industry regulations
and practices to ensure the ethical and safe handling of the deceased in
crematories. There are rules that stipulate about the handling of
cremated remains that ensure you can be assured that the cremated remains
you receive are exactly, and only, the remains of your loved one.
What is the process
for a cremation?
As mentioned above there
is strict code of standards for crematories to ensure that dispositions
are ethically managed. Only one body can be cremated at once, and
all cremated remains must be cleared from the cremation chamber before
another cremation can begin. These standards do mean that you may
have little input into any ‘customization’ of a cremation process.
Once your loved one is received into the care of the crematory he/she will
be ID checked and tagged to ensure that checks can be made at all steps
of the process. If the deceased has any medical implants these are
removed and the body is prepared for cremation. The deceased is placed
in a suitable rigid combustible container, which is then placed in the
cremation chamber or retort. The cremation is the process of adding
intense heat to reduce the body to cremated remains or ashes. The
process reduces the human body to its base elements and the process can
take anything between 1 – 4 hours, depending upon the cremation machine.
The cremated remains following the cremation are actually bone fragments,
which are then mechanically ground to a powder. Usually there is
about 3 – 9 pounds of cremated remains.
Is a casket required
for a cremation?
No, you do not require a
casket or coffin for a cremation. Most state laws stipulate that
an “alternative container” is required. This can be any rigid, combustible
container and these days a rigid cardboard or plywood/laminate container
is commonly used. If you are having a service and require a casket,
you can usually use a rental casket supplied by your cremation provider
or funeral home. Eliminating the need for a casket can significantly
reduce your overall funeral costs.
Can I view the actual
Some crematories will allow
you to view the initiation of the cremation process. Some crematories
will actually allow you to initiate the process by pressing the button,
as this is required by some faiths. If this is important to you,
you should check this before selecting a cremation provider. Most
crematories do open their doors to the public, however, many prefer not
to witness any aspect of the process.
What laws govern what
I can do with the cremated remains?
Again, laws governing what
you can, and cannot, do with cremated remains can vary state-by-state.
Although you should check specific state laws, the general guidelines are:
Visit our Funeral Guides by
State in the Library Section to check specific ash scattering laws for
You cannot commingle cremated
remains, unless with the specific request of the deceased.
You can keep cremated remains
You can have them buried or
stored in a niche or columbarium
You can have them added to an
existing grave i.e. spouse or family already buried
You can scatter cremated remains
in a designated place i.e. a memorial garden
You can scatter remains on private
or public lands with the appropriate permission.
Why should I choose
It is a personal choice whether
cremation is the right disposition option. Many consider it more
environmentally and eco-friendly than traditional burial. It eliminates
the need for embalming chemicals, and the need for steel caskets and concrete
burial vaults to be buried in the ground. Cremation has been around
for many, many centuries and in some religions is considered the only,
and most spiritual, way to dispose of the dead. The Catholic Church
also now accepts cremation. Many modernists prefer the idea that
their DNA is, in effect, eliminated. One significant reason why more
Americans are choosing cremation is that it is much cheaper than a traditional
burial. The cremation rate in the U.S. is now at around 41% and is
forecast to reach as high as 60% by 2025.
What is a direct cremation?
much does a cremation cost?
A cremation can cost anything
from $450 through to $4,000, this all depends on exactly how extravagant
the funeral service is and whereabouts you are located. In
many of the states where the cremation rate is higher, prices are more
competitively priced and a basic cremation can be purchased for around
$700 - $900. In Florida and Nevada the prices for a direct cremation
can be as low as $450.
A direct cremation is where
the deceased is collected, transferred directly to the crematory (or funeral
home) and an immediate cremation is conducted. This requires the
minimal services of a funeral director, so the professional fees are lower.
Be sure to check exactly what is included in a direct cremation package.
Some firms quote a price but do not include the actual crematory fee or
the fee for the cremation container. Most reputable funeral homes
and cremation providers that offer a direct cremation package will include:
Most funeral homes will offer
you incremental services & products, such as choosing a more elaborate
The basic services of a funeral
director to collect the deceased and file any necessary paperwork i.e.
authorization form, death certificate & cremation permit
Temporary storage if required
An alternative cremation container
The crematory fee
A temporary receptacle for the
return of the cremated remains
What is the difference
between a cremation with service and a direct cremation?
A cremation with service
is just like an ordinary funeral service. The deceased can be present
in repose during the service, and then a cremation is performed afterwards
instead of a burial, and the ashes are later returned to the family. Whereas
a direct cremation is conducted without any service.
Can a body be transported
over state lines to be cremated?
Yes, the deceased can be
transported across state lines for a cremation. If the deceased is
to be transported over any distance, and a period of over 24-hours may
elapse, embalming may be required. Airline funeral shipping companies
have specific regulations to meet, and this can involve the use of a designated
air-freight mortuary shipping container. Visit our section on Funeral
Shipping for further information.
What alternative options
do I have to memorialize cremated remains?
There are so many options
today for what you can do once you have your loved ones cremated remains.
There are a whole array of cremation urns, keepsake urns, and all sorts
of weird and wonderful cremation receptacles. You have the option
to scatter the ashes, all of the ashes, or scatter some and retain some.
You can have a diamond made from cremated remains, or other unique glass-blown
jewelry. In fact, there are so many options and we have tried to
comprehensively list the categories on our Ash
Where can I find more
information about cremation?
If you want to read further
about cremation, you will find that US Funerals Online has a Library Section
on Cremation with numerous articles related to the topic.
You can also visit the Cremation
Association of North America (CANA), 499 Northgate Parkway, Wheeling, IL
You can also read more in
detail about the history, culture, religious variations & memorialization
aspect of cremation at Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation
||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.
Memorials – Network of low cost cremation providers
Guides – state specific regulations on cremation
Last Revised: 04/09/2013