Questions about Cremation

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Can I bring my own urn?

Yes. The funeral home cannot require you to buy one of their urns, nor can they charge you extra for using an urn that they didn’t provide.

What is the current percentage of cremations versus traditional burials?

In the United States, more than 40% of all deaths result in cremation. The actual percentage in 2012 was estimated at 43.5%. The number is expected to increase to 50% by 2017.

What happens when a funeral home cremates a body, but the ashes go unclaimed?

The problem of unclaimed cremated remains continues to increase along with the rise in cremation rates across the country. When cremated remains are not picked up by the family, the funeral home usually keeps them in storage, sometimes indefinitely. At least one state (Massachusetts) has passed laws that allow the funeral home to scatter or bury cremated remains that go unclaimed for more than a year.

Can you bury an urn in a cemetery?

Yes. Your funeral home director can contact the curator or owner of the cemetery to obtain all the information needed for burial. If you wish, he can also make all the arrangements for you.

Are cremated ashes sterile?

Yes. The cremation process destroys any bacteria or microscopic organisms that were present in the body.

Can you transport cremated remains internationally by air?

Yes. But because each country has its own rules and regulations, transporting cremated remains can become very complicated both from a logistical and a legal aspect. Contact the Embassy for each country you will be transporting the cremated remains to or from. Their Embassy is your best source to find out what are the specific rules, legal requirements, and any other authorizations that may be required. When shipping cremated remains internationally, it is adviseable that you work with a funeral home, cremation provider, or a company that specializes in the shipment of human remains.

Can you transport cremated remains by air within the United States?

Most airlines will allow you to transport cremated remains, either as air cargo, or as carry-on or checked luggage (traveling with you). You should check with the airline to determine their exact policies on either shipping or handling as luggage, and make sure the contents are identified as cremated remains. You will also need to review the Transportation Security Administration requirements.

You should also consult a licensed funeral director at both the point of departure and the destination to find out if there are any local laws that need to be observed as well. Arrive early in order to pass through security clearance, and carry the death certificate, certificate of cremation, and any other relevant documents with you.

Why would someone want to ship cremated remains?

  • More families are choosing direct cremation, where there is no funeral service involved. In some
    situations, the crematory ships the ashes straight back to the family unless arrangements are made to pick them up.
  • In case of a death away from home, the next of kin might decide to have their loved one’s body
    cremated and the ashes shipped, due to the higher expense of having to embalm and transport a body back home.
  • A family may elect to distribute the cremated remains of a loved one between other family members at other locations within the United States or another country
  • A person may want to send the cremated remains of a pet or a loved one to an artisan or craftperson who will incorporate the ashes into jewelry or other works of art.

Can you ship cremated remains?

Yes. However, currently the only way you can legally ship cremated remains is through the United States Postal Service via Priority Mail Express. There are specific requirements for preparing, packaging, and shipping human or animal cremated remains. The United States Post Office has provided guidelines in their document “How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains”.

How big a price difference exists with cremation compared to standard ground burial?

The median cost of a funeral plus burial today is $8,343. In contrast, a cremation with basic services (no funeral) will run about $3,190, while a cremation with a funeral costs around $4,715.

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