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How to Arrange for Cremation

By , Caring.com Senior Editor
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Step 1: Choose a cremation service.

Parents or other older adults who have been members of a funeral or memorial society, or who have other written wishes or prepaid plans for cremation, may also have specified which cremation service they prefer. This information will be available in the funeral or memorial society contract or in a separate written directive. (If you're unsure whether they had such a plan, check through personal papers or talk with their attorney or estate planner.)

If no preferences are specified, you can search for local cremation services online and choose the one that offers the most convenience, best prices, or best service, depending on family preferences.

Cremation costs

The cost of cremation varies widely depending on locale, but the charge for processing the body alone generally ranges from $100 to $500.

A number of other charges may also be added for:

  • Getting and processing a death certificate.
  • Securing the certificate releasing the body for cremation.
  • Transporting the body.
  • Disposing of the cremains.
  • Obtaining a casket or container.
  • Removing a pacemaker or other potentially explosive device.
  • Covering the handling and service fees charged by funeral industry personnel.

Having cremation witnesses

Some mortuaries and crematoriums have been disciplined for mixing the remains of bodies that have been cremated, which is forbidden by law. While this doesn't faze some people, others are horrified by the possibility and want to take extra steps to prevent it. One possibility is to appoint someone to witness the cremation, which virtually assures there will be no illegal mixing. Some mortuaries and crematories don't allow witnesses, however. If this is an important concern for you, choose an institution that welcomes the practice.

Embalming and cremation

Contrary to popular belief, and to what you may be told by an unscrupulous member of the funeral industry, embalming is rarely required when a body is to be cremated.

Exceptions may include situations in which:

  • The body is going to be transported by air or rail.
  • There is a long period of time before the cremation takes place.
  • In rare circumstances, where the death was due to a communicable disease.