Do I need a funeral home if I just want cremation?

This is a question I have been asked more than several times by families.  With the increasing interest in direct cremation, a family may question their need to deal with a funeral home at all.  Now this may all depend on which state you are in, and whether your funeral services provider has their own crematory.

Do I legally have to employ a funeral director?

In most states, you do not.  In fact, there are only 8 states that have laws in place specifically requiring you to employ a funeral director for death-care services.  A list of these and their specific funeral laws can be found here on a guide to DIY Funerals – Home Funeral Care.

Can I transport the deceased direct to a crematory?

In those states that do not require a funeral director to legally transport the deceased, it may be possible for you to transport the deceased in a suitable cremation container or casket directly to the crematory.  Of course, moving a dead body is not for everyone.  There are considerations to make about how easily the body can be moved, and public health and safety aspects of managing a corpse.

What is a ‘direct’ cremation?  And what services do the funeral home offer?

A direct cremation is where only the cremation is facilitated by the funeral services provider.  No visitation, viewing or ceremony is held.  The deceased is transferred from the place of death to the funeral home or crematory.  There he or she is placed in refrigerated shelter for a few days while all the correct authorizations and permits are obtained.  Once all legal requirements are met, the deceased is cremated in a basic cremation container.  The cremation ashes are then returned to the family in a temporary cremation urn.

Cremation planningThe funeral director arranges the transportation of the deceased, assists the family with completing the necessary arrangements, authorizations and submission for the death certificate.

A direct cremation service from a funeral home is a minimal service level package.  As the cost for a direct cremation service is at an ‘entry point’ level, so too are the services that the funeral home offer.

Some funeral service providers offer more than one direct cremation package. From a minimal direct cremation service where most of the arrangements are made online, to concierge services where more support and extra benefits such as copies of the death certificate, obituary notice and upgraded cremation urns are offered.

What are the benefits of employing a funeral director to conduct a direct cremation?

Employing a funeral home, or funeral director, to conduct a direct cremation service does mean that you are using the services of a licensed professional with experience.  Although, in many states it is not a legal requirement, it can still be a preferred option to let someone who knows exactly what they are doing to handle everything.

Cremation LawsThe funeral director will already have processes in place for collating the data required legally to issue a death certificate, and obtain cremation authorizations and permits from the county.

Also, it can take several days to complete these before the cremation can go ahead, so you can be assured that your loved one is sheltered with care. In many states there is a mandatory wait period after death before a cremation can proceed. (24-48 hours)

With direct cremation gaining more popularity as the ‘simple’ cremation option, so more funeral service providers are offering competitive direct cremation packages.  So, you may find that for under $1,000 in many cities, it is much simpler to employ a cremation provider to handle everything!

Do you need a casket for a cremation?

Cremation ContainerThe simple answer is no.  Legally there is no requirement for a casket.  Generally, for a direct cremation a simple cremation container is used.  This is a reinforced cardboard container, often with a plywood bottom.  This burns easily during the cremation process.  Alternatively, simple plywood or pine coffins can be used.  A direct cremation is offered at such an affordable price because only a basic cremation container is used.

More funeral homes are also offering rental caskets for their cremation families.  A ceremonial cremation rental casket is designed to house the basic cremation container inside for the purpose of a viewing or ceremony, then the cremation container with the body, simply slides out and can be moved to the crematory for cremation.  This means that even if a funeral service or viewing is required prior to cremation, you do not need to purchase a casket, and can reduce overall cremation costs.

What can you do with the cremation ashes if you opt for a cremation without a ceremony?

This is another question I am asked about frequently with more families choosing a simple cremation.  Less families are concerned about interring cremation ashes, especially sometimes with the costs involved.  What had been an inexpensive cremation can become costlier with cemetery or columbarium cremation niche fees.

Some families just want to scatter the ashes after some kind of family memorial service.  All of which makes the whole disposition process inexpensive and personal.  There is also no time-frame to have to do something with the ashes.  This can allow family members to take time to grieve and decide on some befitting final resting place at a later date.

There are also many different cremation artifact products now where some of the ashes can be blended into a keepsake memorial.

The growing market for simple and direct cremation is changing how funeral homes operate, and giving more control and options to families.   If you need to find out the cost for a direct cremation in your area, use the state links to find your nearest city and DFS Memorials provider.