Arranging a funeral or cremation in Alabama
This guide aims to answer some key questions about making funeral or cremation arrangements in Alabama. We provide an overview of some legal aspects of making funeral plans specific to Alabama funeral laws and what funeral or cremation costs to expect.
Finding funeral homes in Alabama
If you need to arrange a funeral or cremation in Alabama, the first thing you may be considering doing is finding a local funeral home or cremation provider. There are 655 listed funeral and cremation businesses in Alabama, so you need to decide upon a few factors to help you select the right provider.
These can be such things as whether you require a burial or a cremation, what kind of service you require if you want a traditional service or a more contemporary life celebration event, and most importantly, what kind of budget you have for the funeral cost.
Funeral costs and cremation costs in Alabama
Direct Cremation Service – Birmingham $895 Call (205) 206-7785
Direct Cremation Service – Huntsville $1,095 Call (256) 269-2255
Direct Cremation Service – Mobile $1,730 Phone (251) 206-5572
The most important question many people want to know today is, “How much does a funeral cost?” The cost of a traditional funeral has been steadily increasing for a number of years now, and the average funeral today can cost around $10,000 in total.
However, more folks are demanding cheaper funeral options. Not only can many families not afford this kind of outlay, but more still are just electing to save this money on funeral costs to spend elsewhere.
Alabama cremation services
Although burial is still a preferred funeral choice in Alabama, cremation services are steadily growing in popularity. One of the main reasons for this is the cost of cremation services. A cremation can cost a fifth of the cost of a traditional funeral in Alabama.
A cremation eliminates the need for some of the most expensive funeral service items – such as a casket, embalming, burial vault, and cemetery charges. This alone can immediately half the cost of a funeral. A cremation with a memorial service can be arranged similarly to a burial service. Only the deceased is cremated after the memorial service.
Visit DFS Memorials Alabama to Find a Cheap Cremation Near You.
Arranging a direct cremation not only offers the most affordable funeral in Alabama, but it can also mean that a memorial service can be conducted at a later date/time to suit the family. Many families use a funeral home to conduct the immediate cremation and then arrange memorial services or an ash scattering ceremony themselves.
Comparing Alabama cremation costs and services – a breakdown of funeral costs
Shopping around between funeral homes in Alabama and comparing funeral services and costs is essential. You will discover that the prices for the same funeral service or cremation service will differ. It can depend upon which area of Alabama you live in and the type and number of funeral homes in your area.
For example, if you have a number of full-service traditional funeral homes or corporate-owned funeral homes, you may find the funeral prices are higher. When a funeral home offers discounted cremation services, the cremation price generally becomes more competitive.
A traditional funeral can be purchased for $5,000 in Alabama if you shop around and find an affordable funeral home. This price includes a casket but does not include cemetery fees.
If you are concerned about funeral costs, the DFS Memorials providers in Alabama offer low-cost cremation services and affordable burial services. All DFS Memorials providers guarantee to offer a ‘best value’ direct cremation package.
Alternative funeral options in Alabama – Life Celebrations, Green Funerals & Home Funerals
The ritual of the traditional funeral in Alabama is changing. We are moving into an era where celebration and memorialization are changing the way funeral homes conduct a send-off. Funeral services need not even be held in a funeral home or church today.
As we become more ecologically minded, more folks are even returning to the notion of natural, green burial and home funerals.
Some families chose to bury on their own land. Alabama did introduce new legislation to require a funeral director to be involved in the interment process.
What you need to know – Funeral laws, regulation, and licensing in Alabama
All states have different laws when it comes to funeral practice and licensing. The Alabama Board of Funeral Service licenses funeral homes in Alabama. If, for any reason, you have a concern or complaint about a licensed funeral home, you can contact them at the Alabama Board of Funeral Service, PO. Box 309522, Montgomery, AL 36130 Phone: 334-242-4049.
To learn more about cremation services, the process, secure ID tracking, cremation regulations, and laws, visit our Ultimate Guide to Cremation.
Does the deceased have to be embalmed in Alabama?
No, no legal requirement or law stipulates a body has to be embalmed. However, some funeral homes implement policies requiring a body to be embalmed if a viewing or open casket service is being conducted.
What you need to know about cremation laws in Alabama
As the cremation rate grows in Alabama, more folks are asking about the laws and regulations governing human cremation. Firstly, let me state that there are strict rules about how a human cremation can be performed. Only 1 person can be cremated at once, and the cremation retort must be cleared before the next cremation.
A Cremation Authorization Form MUST be signed by the immediate next of kin for a cremation to go ahead. If there is any dispute, then a cremation cannot proceed.
Finding a low-cost cremation provider in Alabama
The coroner will issue a permit to cremate, and once the funeral director has this, he can proceed with the cremation. At present, there is no charge for a cremation permit in Alabama. There is no legislated mandatory waiting period before cremation in Alabama. However, gathering the necessary paperwork and authorizations generally takes three days or so. An expedited cremation can be arranged if required.
No casket is required. A suitable cremation container is used (generally a reinforced cardboard box), and some funeral homes offer rental caskets should you require a service or viewing beforehand.
What can we do with the cremated remains? Laws for ash scattering in Alabama.
As more families choose cremation, we are asked more often, “What can I legally do with the cremation ashes?” There is a growing interest in scattering ashes instead of interring them or keeping them at home.
You can scatter them in a designated scattering memorial garden, inter them in a cremation niche, keep them in the cremation urn, or distribute them between family in keepsake urns.
There are many options for memorializing cremated remains today – from creating diamonds, shotgun pellets, cement garden ornaments, and cremation portraits.
Cremation does render ashes harmless, so there is no public health risk involved in scattering ashes. They are sterile, organic matter but use common sense and refrain from scattering ashes in places where they would be obvious or offensive to others.
Scattering on private land requires the landowner’s consent, and it is wise to check local ordinance zoning if you wish to scatter on public lands. If you wish to scatter ashes in a state park, you should check if the park in question has any rules about permits required for ash scattering.
Visit our Complete Guide to Scattering Cremated Remains to learn more.
If you wish to scatter off the Gulf Coast or out of Mobile Bay, you need to consider EPA regulations. A burial at sea should be three nautical miles out, and a written notification should be provided to the local EPA representative within 30 days.
Burial At Sea Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30303 Phone: (404) 562-9395
Who is responsible for paying for the funeral?
There are 2 alternatives – either you preplan and prepay for your own funeral expenses, or the surviving family will become liable for your disposition costs. You do not have to set up a funeral contract with a service provider formally. Still, you can make adequate provisions by putting funds aside in a POD account so that the person who will arrange your funeral can access this fund immediately upon the death.
You can read more about this in ‘What is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral?’
Purchasing a casket or grave marker in Alabama
A casket and memorial headstone can be two of the most expensive funeral merchandise items purchased for a funeral. It is important to understand that you do NOT have to purchase a casket from a funeral home. The Federal Trade Commission’s ‘funeral rule’ means that you legally have the right to purchase a casket elsewhere, and your funeral home must accept it. Caskets can often be purchased from a third-party retailer at a fraction of the cost that some funeral homes retail them for!
Check out our ‘Casket’ section for more detailed information about purchasing a casket.
Similarly, a grave marker does not have to be purchased at the time of interment. Generally, cemeteries will not permit erecting a memorial marker until a few months after the burial. This gives the ground a chance to settle and prevent potential subsidence of the monument.
Therefore, this gives you time to shop around without feeling you must commit to a marker while making funeral arrangements.
Check out our Grave Markers section for a more detailed overview of purchasing and erecting a memorial monument.
What discounts are there for Veteran funerals in Alabama?
All veterans (& some dependents) are entitled to a free cemetery plot, grave marker, and US Flag. A copy of the DD214 discharge papers would be required to obtain veterans’ benefits. Some funeral homes offer additional discounts for veterans’ funerals, so you must make inquiries.
The DFS Memorials provider in Mobile offers a $200 discount on burial and a $100 discount on the cremation cost. The veteran’s cemetery in Mobile is now closed to interments, but Montevallo and Fort Mitchell have space.
A death has occurred away from my home state. What do I do?
With a more transient population, this eventuality is happening more often. If a loved one has died away from Alabama or needs transporting back to a home state/country, you will need to consider the services of a mortuary shipper.
Transporting a body (either domestically or internationally) can work out costly. There are rigid rules to be met and in the case of international ship-outs, consulate and customs paperwork to be completed.
You need a funeral director at the location of the death and where the body is being shipped to coordinate the funeral shipping process. For this reason, families sometimes decide to arrange a cremation at the location of death and transport the cremated remains. This can work out much simpler and significantly less expensive.
Check out our section on Funeral Shipping to learn more.
If you do regularly travel for work, pleasure, sport, visiting family, or snow-birding, you may wish to consider our great value Travel Protection Plan. This plan costs just $450 for an individual for lifetime protection against the costly expense of returning a body home if a death occurs 75 miles (or further) from your residence in Alabama. It also provides global coverage. Domestic funeral shipping can cost from $3,000, and International repatriation can start at around $6,900.
Visit our article on Travel Protection: Your Guide to Affordable Funeral Shipping, or click the link above to enroll today.
I wish to donate my body to science when I die. Can I do this in Alabama?
Absolutely! An anatomical gift as a body donation is a great way to give something back to society upon death. Another great benefit is that it can reduce (or remove) any funeral costs.
Most body donation organizations offer free cremation as part of the donation process. There are some conditions, though, when a body may not be accepted, so it is wise to pre-register and to also have an alternative plan in place. Several nationwide donation programs are committed to returning the cremated remains to the family within 4 – 6 weeks.
The deceased had no life insurance, and I can’t afford a funeral. What help is there with cremation costs in Alabama?
Sadly, more families are finding themselves in such a situation. The reality is that there is very limited public or state assistance for funeral costs. The state takes care of indigent deaths (as is their responsibility), but this is done through a pauper burial or cremation. Social Security offers a $255 death benefit payment (if qualifying), and the funeral director will assist you with claiming this.
For further guidance, read our article ‘What do I do if I Can’t Afford a Funeral’?
How do I get a copy of the death certificate?
The funeral director will file the death certificate. In Alabama, a death must be registered with the local vital statistics office within 5 days. A body may not be buried or cremated until the death certificate is filed. (Alabama Code § 22-9A-14(a).)
You will need certified copies to formally register the deceased’s death with government institutions, banks, insurance companies, etc. You can order certified copies of a death certificate from the Alabama Department of Public Health. You can do this online, by phone, mail, or in person.
The first certified copy of a death certificate costs $15, and additional copies are $6 each. There is an extra fee if you use the online ordering system.
What steps do I need to take when a death has occurred?
If you are choosing to use the services of a funeral director, you need to select a funeral services provider to work with. He/she can help walk you through the next steps once they have the deceased in their care.
Visit our article ‘How to Save Money Arranging a Funeral or Cremation’ for detailed tips to save money and checklists to help you make preparations.
The Internet provides a great tool today by which you can anonymously conduct funeral research and make informed funeral decisions. You can check out our Funeral Resources section to read further information about arranging a funeral or cremation.
If you need immediate assistance and have not found what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to contact us; we will be happy to try and help you.