Arranging a funeral or cremation in Oregon
We created this guide to arranging a funeral or cremation in Oregon to help you with some of the key things you need to consider when making funeral arrangements.
Whether you are planning ahead or a death has occurred or is imminent, it can be quite daunting to negate all the legalities of funeral laws, especially if you feel emotionally vulnerable!
Our aim is to help guide you through some of the key questions you may have while helping you understand how you can save costs when planning a funeral.
Choosing a funeral home in Oregon
Direct Cremation Complete $1,195
One of the first things you will need to do, especially if a death has just occurred, is choose the funeral home you wish to handle the funeral services.
Oregon has around 250 funeral homes and mortuaries, so you need to consider what criteria can help you select the right funeral home for your needs. Selecting a funeral service provider can be determined by both your location and what kind of funeral services you require.
Do you require a traditional funeral or burial service? Or are you seeking something more contemporary? Is the cost of the funeral an issue? Are you working on a tight budget and looking to save money where you can on funeral expenses?
Obviously, having some clear ideas of what you need from a funeral home helps you decide which funeral home is right for you. It can really help you to narrow down which funeral services provider to select by clearly outlining what your needs are before you start contacting funeral homes.
Many seek recommendations or referrals from family or friends, which is a very good way to get information. However, if you are not in a position to benefit from a sound referral or seek something specific, you may have to resort to contacting funeral homes yourself. Usually, people look for a reputable funeral business in their own area. Still, it is always advisable to check with more than one funeral home and compare services and prices for a funeral or cremation.
What does an average funeral cost in Oregon?
The average cost of a funeral in the U.S. is $7,848 (according to the NFDA – National Association of Funeral Directors 2022), and this does not include any cemetery fees. This generally means that the full cost of a funeral can amount to nearer to $9,000 when cemetery fees are included.
The cost for a traditional burial is largely dependent on the type of casket you select and the final cost of your cemetery plot and a grave marker. The cost of a funeral can be broken down into several components – the funeral director’s professional service charges, casket, embalming, transportation, and ancillary costs such as flowers, music, prayer cards, obituary, etc.
Prices do vary between funeral service providers for the exact same service. Therefore, It is recommended that you DO shop around and compare funeral prices. That way, you can be sure that you have a “best value” funeral service.
All funeral homes in the Oregon area must have a general price list (GPL) that outlines their service charges and funeral merchandise prices. They must provide a copy of their GPL when they quote you a price according to the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘The Funeral Rule’.
How much does a cremation cost in Oregon?
A typical cremation funeral service will cost in the region of $3,200 (depending upon the ancillary services/products you select). This is the type of cremation service that replaces a full traditional funeral. It is possible to arrange a cremation for considerably less than this.
The bottom line is that a funeral or cremation can cost you as much as you want to spend. But more importantly, if finance is an issue, and you are concerned about how much a funeral will cost, be sure to look for fixed package deals where you can be sure of the total price.
Who is responsible for paying for funeral costs in Oregon?
Generally, a person has two options – to prepay and pre-plan a funeral or leave enough money for surviving family to pay for the funeral. If neither of these options has been put in place, then surviving family is liable for the funeral bill.
Check out our article on ‘What is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral?’
Arranging a direct cremation in Oregon
A direct cremation is the least expensive cremation option for families. Direct cremation means that there are no services. The cremation goes ahead once all the documentation has been completed, and then the cremated remains are returned to the family in a temporary container.
Incremental options, such as a private family viewing or an upgraded cremation urn, can be added to a basic direct cremation package for an additional fee. This is proving a no-fuss, affordable and efficient way to manage a disposition when a death occurs. Many families today opt for direct cremation and then conduct their own memorial services once the cremated remains are returned to the family.
If you are concerned about funeral costs, the DFS Memorials providers in Oregon offer low-cost cremation services. All DFS Memorials providers guarantee to offer a ‘best value’ direct cremation package. Visit the DFS Memorials website to locate your nearest provider & price.
How do I decide between a burial or a cremation in Oregon?
Around 7 out of 10 funerals in Oregon are a cremation, so a cremation is by far a very popular disposition choice for Oregonians. If the deceased left explicit wishes, this can simplify decisions; otherwise, the surviving family may have to decide. Funds for the funeral service can play a significant role in whether a burial or cremation is chosen these days, as cremation is significantly cheaper than a traditional burial service.
Having a pre-existing cemetery plot can be important as burial plots can be quite expensive to purchase these days. If cremation is chosen, a Cremation Authorization Form will need to be signed by the immediate next of kin for a cremation to proceed.
Green burial is also another option that can be considered as an eco-friendly disposition. Bio-cremation or aquamation (the dissolving of the human body in a high-pressure water chamber) is also available in the state of Oregon.
Human Composting is now legal in Oregon as another environmentally friendly death care alternative.
If you are unsure whether to choose between burial or cremation, talk to family and friends, and discuss the decision with your funeral director.
What legally do I need to know about cremation in Oregon?
Each state has its own laws governing cremation procedures. A crematory and/or funeral home must abide by certain practice standards in disposing of human remains by cremation. However, certain regulations can vary by state. In Oregon, 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 [Cremation permit fee is $7.00].
A mandatory waiting period is 24 hours before a cremation can proceed. That being said, it usually takes about 3 days to make all the necessary arrangements and complete the paperwork. An expedited service can be arranged if required.
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.
What can we do with the cremated remains? Laws for ash scattering in Oregon
As Oregon has a higher cremation rate, a greater percentage of families are seeking different options for memorialization after cremation. Cremated remains can be interred in a grave plot or cremation niche, stored in a cremation urn at home, or scattered.
There are also today a multitude of creative cremation artifacts that can be created from cremation ashes, such as cremation diamonds, glass jewelry, birdbaths, and portraits, to name but a few.
Check out our Ash Scattering section for more information.
You can scatter cremated remains in a designated memorial scattering garden, on private land (with the landowner’s consent), or on many public and state lands. If considering scattering on public or municipal land, you should check the local zoning ordinance first. No ‘cremains police’ exists, and cremated remains are sterile organic matter, so they pose no threat to the environment. As long as you use safe scattering techniques, there really should be no concern about scattering ashes into the atmosphere. This is the official statement from the Oregon Mortuary Board concerning the legalities of scattering ashes in Oregon.
Oregon is in Region 10 (Pacific Northwest) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and you can conduct a burial at sea if you so choose. A scattering ceremony should be 3 nautical miles to sea. Charter services are available to do this for around $175.
Purchasing a casket or grave marker in Oregon
We have comprehensive and detailed guides to buying a casket or grave marker, so I would recommend you visit these sections for more detailed information. Use the links on the left-hand side. You can purchase a casket from a third-party source, you do not have to purchase one from a funeral home, and your funeral home must accept it without charging a fee.
Does the deceased have to be embalmed?
No legal requirement or state law stipulates that you have to have the deceased embalmed. Oregon law requires that a body be refrigerated or embalmed if the final disposition is not conducted within 24 hours. If the deceased needs shipping, embalming would be required in more cases, or if death was due to a communicable disease and viewing is being held. Embalming is required if a public service is to be held, and the deceased would be removed from refrigeration for a period exceeding 6 hours.
Can I conduct a home funeral in Oregon?
Conducting your own ‘home funeral’ is a very personal way of saying goodbye. It is perfectly legal to conduct a home funeral in Oregon without requiring the services of a funeral director.
If you wish to bury your loved one at home on your own land and establish a family cemetery, you must first check with the local planning commission about any local zoning. You would need to draw up a map of the property showing the burial ground, file it with the property deed, and provide disclosure of the burial if you sell the property [ORS 97.460].
How do I get a death certificate in Oregon?
The death certificate is generally prepared and filed by the funeral director. In Oregon, it must be filed within 5 days after the death and before the cremation or burial takes place [Statute § 432.307]. The funeral director will need all the personal information about the deceased in order to file the death certificate. He can order you multiple copies (if required for settling the deceased’s estate), or you can order additional copies yourself at a later date. The original death certificate is filed in the county where the death occurred. The original copy stays with the health department of the county. Certified copies of the death certificate are usually available 7-10 days after the death. However, if the death occurred outside the Portland Metro Area, it may take up to 2 weeks.
You can obtain a certified copy of a death certificate either online, by phone, by mail, or in person from Oregon’s Public Health Division. The fee for a copy of a death certificate varies depending upon which service you use, between $20.00 and $36.50, with each additional copy priced at $15.00. In-person, a copy can be obtained within about 40 minutes. Regular mail takes 8-10 weeks, and online it takes 2 days to be processed and then the shipping time. Expedited shipping can be arranged.
You need to produce a suitable ID to order copies of a person’s death certificate. You must be the deceased person’s next of kin, a legal representative of the deceased or family members, a government agency, or an investigator. If the death occurred over 50 years ago, anyone can order a copy of the death certificate.
Can I pre-plan a cremation in Oregon?
Yes, and pre-planning your funeral is a great way to save the surviving family from the stress of making funeral decisions and finding the money to pay for a funeral. You can make pre-need funeral arrangements direct with a funeral home or purchase burial insurance. You should check whether a preneed contract is ‘guaranteed’ or ‘non-guaranteed’. Monies that go into a trust are subject to annual reporting to the Oregon State Dept. Finance and Corporate Securities Division [ORS 97.943(8)].
You DO need to consider that funeral prices are constantly changing. Funeral companies promote preplanning on the basis that it “locks into today’s prices”, but with the cremation trend increasing and more funeral homes competing for the ‘affordable’ funeral market – the reality is that the funeral costs are not as ‘fixed’ as they once were.
Another funeral planning alternative is to document your wishes and put aside the appropriate funds in a POD Payable on Death account or a Totten Trust.
This enables the family to access the funds at the time of need and make the funeral arrangements, but you keep in control of your monies and any accrued interest.
Can I donate my body to science in Oregon?
Yes, donating your body to science can be a great way to meet your end-of-life needs. You provide a ‘gift’ to society and eliminate funeral costs! MedCure (based in Portland) offer whole-body donation and take care of everything for you. You can pre-register your interest to donate if you wish, which can help speed the process when a death occurs.
Check out our Body Donation section.
Veterans Funerals in Oregon
Veterans are entitled to certain benefits – a free cemetery plot, grave marker, and US flag. A copy of the DD214 discharge papers is required to claim these benefits, and you would need to contact the local VA office. In many cases, the funeral director will assist you with this or undertake it on your behalf. The VA cemeteries in Portland and Eagle Point have space for both casketed and cremated remains. The cemetery in Roseburg only has space for cremated remains.
How can I transport a loved one either back to or from Oregon after death?
If a loved one needs to be transported back to a state or country of origin following their death in Oregon, you will need the services of a funeral director who can arrange funeral shipping for you. This generally needs a funeral professional who can coordinate arrangements at the place of death and wherever the body is being shipped to.
If transporting a loved one between states in the United States, you have the option of flying the body or transporting the body by land. Certain regulations do apply to moving a body, and embalming will likely be required as well as specific containers to hold the casket. Shipping a body can be quite expensive, so the other alternative you have is to have the body cremated at the place of death and then transport back the cremated remains.
Visit our section on Funeral Shipping to read more.
If you do travel regularly 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 Oregon. 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 below to enroll today.
The deceased had no life insurance – what do I do if I cannot afford a funeral or cremation in Oregon?
This can be very distressing if you are liable to make funeral arrangements for a lost loved one and do not have sufficient funds. There is very limited financial aid for funerals, and this varies by county. In such cases, the coroner may make arrangements with a funeral home, and costs should not exceed the actual minimal cost of a burial or cremation. Generally, a fixed amount is set that the County or state will pay for pauper burial assistance.
The state is responsible for the disposition of indigents or any individual who becomes a responsibility of Oregon. You need to contact your local county human services or social services to find out what help may be available. Simple cremation is the least expensive disposition option.
Who should I contact if I have a complaint about a funeral home in Oregon?
Hopefully, you will find your funeral home services more than adequate, as most funeral professionals are very dedicated to their vocation. Unfortunately, it does sometimes happen that you may have a complaint or grievance with a funeral home, and you do not manage to resolve it directly with the funeral director. In this case, you should write your complaint to the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board, which regulates and licenses funeral businesses in Oregon. They can be contacted at 800 NE Oregon Street # 430, Portland, OR 97232. Phone: (971) 673-1500
Another useful consumer resource is the Oregon Cremation Alliance (an affiliate of the Funeral Consumers Alliance).
I hope this guide has helped to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our Funeral Resources section for our full catalog of resources to help you through the process of arranging a funeral. Feel free to contact us if we can be of any assistance with any further questions you may have.