Are you researching with an interest in setting up a cremation plan for yourself? Or do you need help to arrange a funeral or cremation service for a loved one who has passed? This funeral guide will answer some of your key questions about making arrangements.  We have included information on cremation costs and funeral prices in the Baltimore area, as well as state funeral laws and other funeral/cremation considerations.

Direct cremation service $950   Call (410) 670-4730

What do you need to do first when a death occurs?

When a death occurs, your first decision will be to select a funeral home to handle funeral arrangements and transfer the deceased into their care. Most deaths occur in a medical facility, where the deceased can be held for a short period in the hospital morgue if necessary. This allows you some time to select the right funeral service provider for your needs, so try not to feel rushed to make a decision straight away.

How do I choose a funeral home or cremation service provider?

If your loved one did not have a funeral plan, and you have never had to arrange a funeral before, this will be the first decision to make.  There are around 69 funeral service providers in Baltimore.  If you want to have a funeral ceremony, the physical location of the funeral home will be an important consideration.  Also, if you have a specific financial budget for the overall funeral cost, you will likely want to compare funeral prices before selecting a suitable funeral home.

Direct cremation service $950  Call (410) 670-4730

What are my funeral service or cremation service options in Baltimore?

As there are many funeral service providers serving the Baltimore area, you can arrange anything from a full-service traditional funeral to a simple direct cremation service.  You will need to decide if you want a traditional funeral, something more modern like a life celebration service, or if you want to consider cremation as a more affordable option. Read on to find out more about direct cremation and how it is your most affordable option.

What is the average cost of a funeral service in Baltimore?

According to recent surveys*, the average cost for an adult funeral in Baltimore is $8,293. This is based on the most commonly selected items for a traditional funeral, including a casket and vault. However, it does not include cemetery costs.

A grave space, a grave marker, and opening/closing the grave can easily cost another $1,500 to $2,500. Therefore, a typical traditional funeral and burial cost is likely at least $9,500

Compare cremation services in Baltimore MD

How much does a cremation cost in Baltimore?

The cost of a cremation service is usually more difficult to quote as it depends on the type of cremation service you choose.  Whether you choose to have a cremation with a traditional service or a direct cremation without a service will significantly affect the overall cost. 

Cremation is a cheaper alternative to a traditional funeral, but a cremation with a memorial service will still cost upwards of $4,000, with an average cost of $7,034 in the Baltimore Metropolitan area.

A simple cremation service with no ceremony is referred to as a “direct cremation” in the funeral industry.  A direct cremation can be arranged for just $950 in Baltimore

This is the most economical funeral service arrangement available to families. However, the cost of a simple cremation can still vary between different funeral service providers in the Baltimore area. It is likely to cost closer to $2,295 with most funeral providers, with an average cost of $2,352.*

Planning a cremation in Baltimore MD

It is always a good idea to check what is included in a low-cost direct cremation package to ensure there are no hidden fees. Sometimes, what can appear low-cost can have additional fees added to the full package price. 

County fees are generally ‘third-party’ additional charges –such as death certificates and cremation permits. However, some affordable direct cremation packages may include a death certificate and cremation permit fee.

Extra charges that can be incurred on a budget direct cremation are fees for if a residential collection is required if the deceased weighs over 300 pounds and if a pacemaker needs to be removed prior to cremation.

Each state has its own legislation that governs funeral and cremation practices. A crematory has to abide by certain practice standards in disposing of human remains by cremation. 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.

How do I apply for a Death Certificate in Maryland?

The funeral director will generally file for the death certificate for you and will ask how many copies you require.  You can also obtain copies of death certificates from the Office of Vital Records (OVR) by applying by mail or online.

The processing time is six weeks for mail orders, 5 weeks for online orders with regular shipping, or three weeks for expedited shipping. The fee is $10.00 if you apply by mail, $11.75 if you apply online, or $18.50 if you want expedited shipping.

Visit the Maryland Department of Health website here to apply online or download the mail application forms.

Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?

Cremation service options in Baltimore MD

If the deceased did not have a prepaid funeral plan, then the responsibility for paying for a funeral falls on the immediate next of kin.  This can be quite a burden for many families, and this is why more seniors today are considering setting up simple cremation arrangements. Pre-planning can be a simple and affordable option, giving families peace of mind for when the time comes. 

Be aware that whoever signs the funeral contract with the funeral home is legally responsible for paying the funeral bill.

If you want to pre-arrange a simple cremation plan, contact your local DFS Memorials at (410) 670-4730.

What happens if the deceased is at the County Medical Examiner?

If the death occurred outside of a medical facility, was an accident, or was unexplained, the body will be transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office.  The coroner is responsible for determining a cause of death before a death certificate can be issued. 

You will need to arrange for a funeral home to collect your loved one once the coroner releases the body.  Only a licensed funeral director can transport the deceased from the ME’s morgue, and the next of kin will need to sign a release form for the Medical Examiner to release the body into the care of a funeral home.

The Medical Examiner will issue the death certificate and permit to cremate once they release the body.  If you have further questions about identifying the body and making arrangements for the transfer of the deceased, you can contact the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Baltimore at (410) 333-3250.

Alternatively, you can find them at:

Office of Chief Medical Examiner
900 W. Baltimore St.,
Baltimore MD 21223

How do I prepare if my loved one is in hospice care?

Cheap cremation Baltimore MD

If your loved one is in hospice care, and the support staff has advised you to prepare for his or her passing, it can help to have provisional arrangements in place.  This is so that when the time comes, the hospice can immediately contact the funeral service provider and arrange the transfer of your loved one into their care. 

If you contact a funeral home beforehand, you can have some preparation in place. This will alleviate some of the stress that comes with having to make arrangements on short notice. This also means the hospice knows who to call, and the authorizations and other legal documentation can be pre-prepared.

What help with funeral expenses is there for low-income or uninsured families?

This is a question we get asked a lot as more families find themselves not being able to pay for funeral expenses. Unfortunately, there is very limited public or state assistance for funeral costs. The state takes care of indigent deaths, 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 be able to assist you with claiming this.

You may also find it useful to read our article on ‘What are your options on how to pay for a funeral or cremation?’. It provides more information on raising funds to cover funeral expenses.

What can I legally do with the cremated remains?  Laws for scattering ashes in Baltimore, MD

Scattering ashes in Baltimore MD

As more families turn to cremation as a lower-cost funeral alternative, the question arises about what to do with the cremated remains. Cremation ashes can be interred in a dedicated cemetery (just as a body can) in a cremation niche or an existing grave plot. (Do remember there may be opening and closing fees to open an existing family grave plot).

You can also scatter on public land if you observe some due diligence. Human cremated remains are basically organic elements and pose no risk to the environment. You should check with the park ordinance if you wish to scatter in a public place like a state park.

There should be no issue if your scattering does not interfere with any park activities. You do need to consider that any floral tribute should be entirely biodegradable, and you will find that state parks will not allow any marker for a scattering site.

I want to pre-plan a simple cremation.  What is the best way to set up a cremation plan in Baltimore?

Affordable cremation Baltimore MD

You can make pre-arrangements with a funeral home and/or crematory.  The terms and payment plans may differ depending on your requirements and age. And whether you make payment in full at the time of purchasing your pre-need plan or opt to arrange a payment plan.

More cremation providers now offer online arrangement services, so all this can be done from the comfort of your home.  Pre-planning can provide you with funeral service coverage that will give you and your family peace of mind, reducing the stress associated with making last-minute funeral arrangements after a loved one has passed.

To discuss your options for pre-planning a simple cremation in Baltimore, contact your local provider at (410) 670-4730

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. It also provides global coverage. Domestic funeral shipping can cost from $3,000, and International repatriation can start at around $6,900.

Read more about this affordable peace of mind death expense coverage here: Travel Protection Plan, or click the link above to enroll today.

Arranging a green burial in Baltimore

In a recent survey, The National Funeral Directors Association discovered that 72% of funeral homes reported increased interest in a green burial from families.  At present, families typically have 2 options – traditional burial or cremation.  However, a ‘natural’ green burial is less expensive than a traditional burial and more environmentally friendly than a cremation. Typically, a green funeral will cost between $3,000 and $5,000. 

There is currently only one cemetery offering green burial options in Maryland: Bestgate Memorial Park in Annapolis.

More details can be found in our Green Burials Directory.

Can I arrange a no-cost cremation in Baltimore?

A “no-cost” cremation normally refers to a whole-body donation program where the deceased’s remains are cremated free of charge after the donation. If you wish to donate your body to science in Baltimore, you can donate directly to a medical school in Maryland.

The Anatomy Board of Maryland handles all donations to medical institutions. They can be reached at 655 W. Baltimore Street, Room B-026, Baltimore, MD 21201. Phone: (410) 547-1222. 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 or cremation plan in the event a donation cannot be accepted.

For more information on whole body donation, visit our page on Body Donation.

Do I need a casket for a cremation service in Baltimore?

No, Maryland has no requirement (or law) that stipulates a casket is required for a cremation service.  A cremation is usually conducted using a simple reinforced cardboard container.  However, renting a casket is possible if you wish to have a service before the cremation.  This will help you save on funeral costs, as caskets can be a significant expense for a traditional funeral and burial.

How to scatter ashes in Baltimore MD

I have questions or concerns about arranging a funeral or cremation in Baltimore, MD.  Where can I find help?

If you have a complaint about the services or merchandise delivered by a Maryland-licensed funeral home, you should attempt to resolve this with the funeral director/owner in the first instance. If no resolution is found, you may wish to contact the State Board or the Local Funeral Consumers Alliance Chapter.

Maryland State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors, 4201 Patterson Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 Phone: (410) 764-4792

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maryland & Environs (FCAME), 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814

We trust that this guide has helped to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our Resource section for our full catalog of resources to help you through the process of arranging a funeral. Lastly, feel free to contact us at US Funerals Online, and we will try to help you if you have further questions about arranging a funeral or cremation service.

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.