Arranging a funeral or cremation in Arizona

Are you facing the difficult task of organizing a funeral? This guide aims to outline some of the main points and Arizona state laws, which will help you start the process. It can be an extremely daunting task to make funeral arrangements, especially if this is the first time you have had to do it and you are coping with your bereavement at the same time. To find out how to arrange a direct cremation in Phoenix, Arizona, for just $850, or Tucson, Arizona, for just $899, read on or call the DFS memorials providers on the numbers linked below.

Phoenix – Direct Cremation Service $850 Call (602) 638-1151

Tucson – Direct Cremation Service $785 Call (520) 200-7742

There are around 190 funeral homes and cremation providers in Arizona, with the three main areas being Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson. 

How do you choose which funeral home or cremation provider is right for your needs?

Choosing the right funeral provider is perhaps the most important decision to make at first.  With so many funeral homes to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. It is advisable to talk to family and friends to get recommendations. However, you may not have a recommendation, need different funeral services, or even want to compare funeral services and costs.

As funeral prices do vary quite significantly between different funeral homes, it is always advisable to consult more than one funeral home for equivalent prices. The Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers publishes a ‘Consumer Guide to Arizona Funerals Information’ pamphlet that state law requires your funeral establishment to issue to you.

It gives you a general outline and clearly states your rights as a consumer when purchasing funeral products and services.  According to Arizona law, only an “authorizing agent” can make funeral arrangements. This agent should be a spouse, next of kin, or a person identified in a healthcare power of attorney. If the deceased was legally separated from his/her spouse or in a petition for a divorce, the spouse cannot be the authorizing agent.

How do I find a funeral home or cremation provider in Arizona?

Our Funeral Home directory can help locate a funeral home or crematory near you. We offer a FREE listing to ALL funeral homes and cremation providers. Every funeral business in your area should be listed by city, making it exceptionally easy to locate your local funeral service providers. Visit our directory pages to locate a nearby funeral service provider.

Phoenix – Direct Cremation Service $850 Call (602) 638-1151

Tucson – Direct Cremation Service $785 Call (520) 200-7742

Do you want a burial or cremation?

It may help you decide who is the right funeral provider to know what services you require. Different funeral homes often have greater experience and skills in different services.

Do you want a burial or a cremation? Do you want a full-service funeral and require a location that can offer visitation and a chapel for a service? Or are you looking for a cremation?  Arizona has a higher-than-average cremation rate of over 60%, so the number of funeral homes offering cremation services is extensive.

Before contacting funeral directors, it can be helpful to write down exactly what you require so as not to be confused when making inquiries. The tips and checklist on our ‘Planning Ahead’ page may be helpful.

Cremation is by far the cheaper option when arranging a disposition. It removes the need for many of the most expensive elements, such as a casket, burial vault, cemetery plot, and grave marker.

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

Visit our Guide to Cremation Costs in Arizona for a comparison of average cremation prices by city and the lowest cost direct cremation service cost.

This is the question that most people are seeking out online these days. As savvy consumers on the Internet, we shop around to find the best deals and expect to compare prices. Purchasing funeral and cremation services these days is no different.

Unfortunately, not all funeral homes openly disclose prices. A local family-owned funeral business is likely to offer you the best deal, but it is not always obvious who these are. Service Corporation International (SCI) operates several funeral and cremation brands in Arizona, and you should be aware that you are dealing with a large corporate chain. These brands are Dignity Memorial, Neptune Society, National Cremation Society, Advantage Funeral, and Cremation Services.

Direct cremation

Arizona state law requires that the funeral establishment provide you with a general price list (GPL), a casket price list, and an outer burial container price list when you consult with them about funeral costs. 

If you proceed to contract their services, they must provide you with a ‘statement of funeral goods and services’ listing all your selected services and products. Check your contract carefully before you sign it, as once you have signed it, you are obligated to pay for the services requested.   

Do note that certain items you request that a third party often provides are referred to as ‘cash advances,’ and these must be paid for upfront. These include such things as flowers, obituary notices, death certificates & celebrants.

What do I need to understand about cremation laws in Arizona?

Each state has its own legislation that governs funeral practice. A crematory must abide by certain practice standards in disposing of human remains by cremation. In Arizona, a cremation can only be performed once a ‘Cremation Authorization Form’ has been signed by the legal next of kin and the coroner has issued the cremation permit.

There is a mandatory waiting period of 24 hours before a cremation can proceed, but that being said, it usually takes about 3 days to make all the necessary arrangements and complete the paperwork. A casket is NOT required by law for a cremation. All that is required is a suitable rigid container. A cremation container is usually a reinforced cardboard or plywood box. Some funeral homes offer rental caskets if you wish to hold a funeral service before the cremation.

Direct cremations in Arizona

A direct cremation is the least expensive cremation option. It offers the most affordable funeral alternative in Arizona if you wish to conduct a funeral at a minimal cost. A direct cremation is when the deceased is collected from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory.

A cremation is conducted after the mandatory waiting period, and cremation authorization has been completed.  Generally, the cost of cremation is reduced because a basic cremation container is used, and minimal services are required from the funeral director. 

If you are concerned about funeral costs, Arizona’s DFS Memorials providers offer low-cost cremation and affordable burial services. All DFS Memorials providers guarantee to offer a ‘best value’ direct cremation package.

Is embalming required in Arizona?

No, state law does not require embalming if the deceased is refrigerated, cremated, or buried within 24 hours.  However, a funeral director may recommend embalming if a funeral is not expected to be conducted immediately or if a viewing or an open-casket ceremony is required. Funeral establishments are not required to have refrigeration by law, so this may be something to consider when selecting a funeral provider if you wish to avoid embalming.   

What are my options for purchasing a casket or alternative container?

A casket is not required by Arizona state law for burial, and a “rigid, combustible container” is required for cremation. Most crematories and cemeteries have minimum requirements, so you should know these. But do not feel pressured into purchasing a casket if it is not required.

A casket, whether rubber gasket-sealed or not, will not prevent natural decomposition.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘funeral rule,’ you can purchase a casket from a third-party seller. Your funeral establishment must accept it and cannot charge you a surcharge.

You can save considerable money when purchasing a casket from a retail casket seller. The sale of a casket had long been a significant way that a funeral home made a profit on a funeral, sometimes marking them up by as much as 500%. After the funeral rule was introduced and abundant casket retailers emerged, prices for caskets have come down. Even Costco and Walmart now sell caskets online. If you shop around, you will find that you can purchase a standard casket for as little as $995 these days.

Many casket retailers ship across the U.S. and offer next-day delivery to your funeral home. It is advisable to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable casket retailer that provides excellent customer service.

What are burial and cemetery plot requirements in Arizona?

All cemeteries will have specific regulations that govern the burial plots they manage. They require a minimum container for burial (a casket) and often a grave liner to protect the burial plot’s structure and prevent the gravesite’s collapse.

Some cemeteries may insist on a vault liner and may also have limitations on what kind of grave marker can be erected and how long after the burial you must wait before erecting it. Some cemeteries also offer above-ground burial in structures such as mausoleums or cremated remains interment in columbarium niches.

Green Burial Options in Arizona

If you are considering a natural burial or a green funeral in Arizona, we have resources in our Green Funerals Section that can help guide you. We also have a directory of Green Burial Sites that can help you find a green cemetery near you.

Can I pre-plan a funeral or cremation? How does Arizona state law govern preneed plans?

Yes, you can pre-plan a funeral. In Arizona, you can arrange a preneed funeral plan where the funds are held in trust or by having a funeral insurance policy with an insurance agent. Aside from that, you can arrange your own funeral plan and set the funds aside in a Payable-on-death (POD) account.

For more information about this, read our page on Putting Money in a P.O.D. account to make Funeral Provisions.

Cremation Plan

If you are a snowbird who winters in Arizona, this Guide to Funeral Planning if you Winter Away From Home will help you prepare.

What are the laws for scattering ashes in Arizona?

The cremation rate is increasing; over 60% of Arizona residents choose cremation as their preferred end-of-life choice. Consequently, ash scattering is now a popular memorial activity in Arizona.  You can generally scatter cremated remains on public land without a permit.

If you wish to scatter remains on your own private property, you are at liberty to do so. If you wish to scatter ashes on other private lands (i.e., golf courses), you must obtain permission.

For aerial scattering, you must comply with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved dispersion routes over the Grand Canyon. Several aerial ash scattering companies operate in Arizona. A basic scattering in areas of Arizona starts at around $400 but costs around $550 for the Grand Canyon area, with additional costs for incremental services.

To read more about how to scatter ashes, visit our section on Ash Scattering.    

What help is available with funeral expenses in Arizona?

The recent economic downturn has resulted in more families struggling to pay funeral expenses in Arizona. If you need assistance with the funeral cost, you should consult your county social services department. Most municipalities have a budget to cover basic funeral or cremation costs for those on welfare without funds to pay for a funeral.

This is a very basic amount, and they are very stringent about who qualifies for the allowance. This is $485 for direct burial and $385 for direct cremation, payable directly to the funeral establishment. 

Are whole-body donations permitted in Arizona?

Yes, you can donate your body to science in Arizona. The University of Arizona accepts medical donations to science, but you will need to check with them directly about any donor acceptance limitations. There are also national body donation organizations. However, you should be aware that an anatomical donation may not always be accepted at the time of death. So you should have a provisional funeral plan if a donation cannot be accepted.

What do you do if your loved one dies away from Arizona?

Dealing with the death of a loved one is distressful enough but can be even more difficult if a loved one has died whilst away from home. These days, as we are a more transient society and travel more, this is happening more often.

You will need to decide if you wish to ship the deceased home to Arizona for burial or perform a cremation at the place of death and ship the cremated remains back.

Read our section on ‘What to do when a loved one dies away from home’ for more information.

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 Arizona. 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 on the link above to enroll today.

Where do I get a copy of a death certificate from in Arizona?

You can obtain copies of death certificates from the Office of Vital Records (OVR), Arizona Department of Health Services, 1818 West Adams, Phoenix, AZ 85007

What should you do if you have a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?

In the first instance, you should attempt to resolve your grievance directly with the funeral home or cremation provider. If this cannot be achieved, you can make a written complaint to the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers at 1400 W. Washington, Suite 230, Phoenix, AZ 85007. 

For the Tucson area, you may also wish to contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Southern Arizona, P.O. Box 12661, Tucson, AZ 85732, which actively advocates for consumer rights. 

For the Phoenix-Mesa area, contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Central Arizona, PO Box 31297, Phoenix, AZ 85046. There is also the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Northern Arizona at 1280 E. Rosser Street, Prescott, AZ 86301.


Funeral homes in Arizona

DFS Memorials – Low-cost funerals & cremations in Arizona

Funeral & Cremation Planning Guide – Phoenix

Funeral & Cremation Planning Guide – Tucson

Written by

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 15 years.