Frequently Asked Questions About Cremations
Cremation raises many questions, so we’ve listed below some of the most common questions we’re often asked. If you don’t see the answer your looking for, please call us at 866-255-9222.
What is cremation?
Cremation has been an alternative to burial since prehistoric times. It is the process of burning a human body at a very high temperature until it is reduced to particles. These particles are then crushed into cremated remain. Many people call these ‘ashes’. Despite the name, ashes are more like coarse, gray sand.
How quickly can you carry out the cremation?
Because we have our own crematory, we can usually carry out the cremation within seven business days of receiving your authorization and the county’s permit. To comply with state law, we must hold a body for at least 48 hours before we cremate it.
Will you cremate my loved one with another body?
Never. Firstly, state and federal law prohibit it. Secondly, the cremation chamber is only big enough to contain one body at a time. Since we own and operate our own crematory, you can be assured that our staff follow strict procedures at all times and that the ashes we deliver to you will be the ashes of your loved one.
Who can authorize the cremation?
In California, the person who has the right to control the disposition of the body is the person who authorizes the cremation. This written authorization, called the Declaration for Disposition of Cremated Remains form, states the location and time of the cremation. Additionally, a cremation permit, called Application and Permit for Disposition of Human Remains, must be issued by the county health department. We can arrange this permit as part of our service.
How quickly do I have to file the death certificate?
The doctor who last attended your loved one has 15 hours after death is confirmed to sign the death certificate. In California, the death certificate must be filed with the local registrar of births and deaths within 8 calendar days of the death and before your loved one is cremated or buried. We include the cost of filing the death certificate in our cremation package.
Do I need official copies of the death certificate?
Yes, you will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out certain tasks, such as notifying Social Security Administration and your bank. Since doctors, hospitals, and funeral directors in California use an electronic system for filing death certificates, this is easy and quick, although a small fee is charged for each copy. We can arrange to get some copies for you if you wish.
What are certified copies and certified informational copies?
Two kinds of certified death certificates exist in California. A certified informational copy can be requested by anyone because it can’t be used legally to establish an identity. A full certified copy can be ordered only by certain people such as next-of-kin, law enforcement agents or legally authorized representatives of the deceased. More details are in the Pamphlet for Certified Copies of Death Records, available from the California Department of Public Health website.
Do I need to buy a casket for the cremation?
No, you don’t. In fact, federal law doesn’t necessitate it. All that’s required is what’s known as an alternative cremation container. These look like traditional caskets but they’re made out of heavy cardboard. The casket buns with the body in the cremation chamber.
Do I need to buy an urn?
Yes, you do. Our cremation package includes a standard utility urn in which we place the ashes, but you’re welcome to choose a different urn. Styles, materials and prices vary considerably, and your final choice may depend on what you want to do with the ashes afterwards. Feel free to browse our online catalog of urns to get an idea of what is available.
Can I put a memento in the casket with my loved one?
It is possible to leave certain personal items in the casket with your loved one. Some people like to leave a piece of jewelry or a memento. However, we do have to remove items such as pacemakers, prostheses, and mechanical or radioactive devices or implants before the cremation. If you would like to have a memento accompany your love one, please ask us for advice.
What can I do with the ashes afterwards?
Your options are almost limitless, but the most common ones are keeping the ashes at home in a keepsake urn, dividing the ashes between close family, inurnment above or below ground, and scattering. We’d be happy to give you more advice about this.
Is scattering legal in California?
California has the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to dealing with ashes. In general, you may scatter ashes in any area of the state where there is no local prohibition and if you obtain written permission from the property owner or governing agency. For more details about scattering ashes on land, at sea or by air, please go to the website of the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.
How quickly do I get the ashes back?
We usually deliver the ashes one to three days after the cremation. We’ll contact you to arrange a time that one of our representatives will arrive at your home or office with the selected urn. No need to take time off work or adjust your schedule.
Can I have a memorial service later?
Yes, you can. Many families decide to honor their loved one with a memorial service after cremation. There is no time limit. It can be held within days of the cremation, or it can be held weeks or months later if that is more convenient for you and friends and family. You may also decide whether you want the cremated remains at the memorial service or not. That is one of the main benefits of cremation – you can celebrate the life of your loved one at a time and place of your choosing.