What you need to know about cremation services and costs in California in 2019

Affordable Cremation Service CaliforniaWhat is the cremation rate in California?

California is ranked as the state in the U.S. with the highest population (39,766,830 in 2018) which represents 12% of the total population.

The states in the West also have some of the highest cremation rates, with California ranking at 14th, and a cremation rate of 63.4% in 2015 (latest state by state data).  This is above the national cremation rate, which reached 53.5% in 2017.

So, it is apparent that cremation is a preferred alternative to burial for families across the West Coast.  How has this affected the funeral industry in California? And, more importantly, has this made cremation a more affordable option for Californians?

The average traditional burial funeral service in California can run to $10,000 or more, whereas the average price for a cremation service is between $600 to $3,000.  This means cremation services offer a more affordable, and more flexible, alternative to traditional funeral services.

How much does it cost for a cremation in Los Angeles?

As mentioned above, cremations can cost between $600 to $3,000.  This can depend on the type of cremation service selected, and the cremation service provider chosen.  A direct cremation is the cheapest cremation option.

Online sources quote that in LA, the average cost for a cremation memorial service is $2,781*, and the average cost for a direct cremation is $1,524*.

In the Greater Los Angeles area, a direct cremation service can be conducted for as little as $625.  A direct cremation is a basic cremation without any ceremony or services conducted by the funeral home or mortuary.  The deceased is collected directly from the place of death and transported to the funeral home or crematory.  The cremation is conducted, and the cremated remains then returned to the family.

The chart here provides a sample of direct cremation prices from a selection of Los Angeles direct cremation service providers in 2019.

Compare cremation costs in Los Angeles

How do cremation prices compare in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Stockton, compares very similarly to LA, with cremation prices ranging from $650 to $3,300.  Marin County has one of the highest cremation rates in the country, and cremation is certainly a popular choice for many Bay Area residents.  There are several cremation companies that have chosen to focus on the demand for simple and low-cost direct cremation, and offer arrangements without the need to even visit a funeral home.  So, you will find a number of direct cremation providers competing for this affordable cremation market and offering a direct cremation service for between $650 and $850.

Compare cremation prices in San Francisco

What can you expect to pay for cremation in Sacramento?

The average cost for a direct cremation in Sacramento is $1,642*, although again, there are cremation providers offering lower-cost direct cremation.  The best price for affordable direct cremation in Sacramento is around $695.

Cremation costs in Northern California.

The basic cost rises somewhat in Northern California, and a simple direct cremation service will cost in and around $995 in Redding and in the region of $1,400 in Chico.

Direct cremation in Southern California.

San Diego has a high cremation rate and a low direct cremation priceThe average price for a direct cremation is $1,358*, although the lowest cost is $600.  As the cremation market is competitive in San Diego, there are several funeral homes offering a direct cremation service for under $1,000.  The chart here shows a sample of direct cremation prices from providers who offer a service for under $1,000.

Compare cremation costs in San Diego

Where is the cheapest place to be cremated in California?

Southern California proves to be the cheapest place to be cremated.  In Los Angeles and San Diego, direct cremation services are available for between $600 – $625.  Being that both these cities have the largest populations in California, there will be growing interest from funeral service providers to capture more of the cremation market, as the cremation rate continues to climb.  So, it is possible that the cremation market will become even more competitive and drive prices lower.

What laws govern cremation services in California?

Each state has a funeral licensing body.  It is their responsibility to ensure that state laws pertaining to the disposition of a body are correctly implemented and to conduct inspections and licensed establishments.

Before cremation can be performed, a ‘Declaration for Disposition of Cremated Remains Form’ must be legally signed.  This must be signed by the legal immediate next-of-kin, or if you are preplanning, you can sign the form for yourself.  This form is a written authorization for the cremation to proceed.  A contract with the cremation service provider should also specify the location and time of disposition, and an agreement to pay the cost for the cremation service.

The funeral director must obtain a ‘Permit for Disposition of Human Remains VS 9’ from the county health department.  Commonly referred to as a cremation permit.  Once all the legal paperwork is completed, the cremation process can go ahead.

According to California law, there is no requirement for a casket for cremation, but a ‘combustible cremation container’ must be used for the purpose of cremation.

Cremation Service CAHow long does cremation take in California?

A cremation can proceed when all the required legal paperwork and permits are authorized and completed.  Firstly, the death certificate must be obtained.  How long this takes can depend on the doctor signing the death certificate off, and the nature of the cause of death.  Once, a death certificate is obtained and the Cremation Authorization Form is in order, the funeral director can obtain the permit to cremate from the county.

Generally, this all takes a few days, and the cremated remains should be available for you to collect within 7 to 10 days after the deceased was taken into the care of the cremation services provider.

Can you deal directly with a crematory in California?

In California, the use of a funeral home is not required by law. Therefore, if you so choose, you can deal directly with a crematory to handle the cremation. If you are not using the services of a funeral director, you would need to apply for, and file, the death certificate and obtain the Permit for Disposition from the county registrar.

Arranging a direct cremation & conducting a family memorial or ash-scattering in California

More families are opting to choose direct cremation and then perform their own memorial service.  This is a significant way to make death care affordable and personalized.  Once the funeral home has completed the direct cremation and the family has the ashes returned, a memorial can be organized at a time and place that is appropriate and meaningful.  All this can be arranged at a fraction of the cost of a cremation funeral or a burial funeral with a funeral home.

What is the cost of an ash-scattering at sea off the coast of California?

California has an expansive coastline and therefore attracts many residents who wish to perform a scattering of cremated remains at the coast, or in the Pacific Ocean.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires a sea scattering to be performed 3 nautical miles out at sea.

There are numerous charter services from Southern and Central California.  The cost for a sea scattering will vary, depending on whether it is accompanied or unaccompanied.  Unaccompanied scattering can start at around $200, especially if offered as an ‘add-on’ service by your cremation provider.  Charters for groups to go out to conduct a sea scattering ceremony will again vary, depending on the size of the boat, people attending and how many hours at sea are requested.

What happens if you cannot afford a cremation in California?

Sadly, we are entering an era of ‘funeral poverty’ where too many families find themselves unprepared for funeral expenses.  Counties generally have an obligation to cover the costs for indigent dispositions.  However, there is very limited financial assistance for those that are low-income or simply living paycheck to paycheck.

A low-cost direct cremation is the most inexpensive option, but most cremation providers will require payment in full before they will collect the deceased and transfer he or she into their care.

If you have any further questions about cremation services in California, call your nearest DFS Memorials affordable cremation provider, who will be happy to assist you.

Sources:

The cremation rate in California

Population data

*Prices obtained from Parting funeral comparison website February 2019