FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
What is cremation?
As defined, cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone particles and ash through the application of intense heat and/or direct flame. It is important to understand that cremation is not the final the disposition of the remains. Following cremation, the family will need to decide an appropriate final disposition. The cremated remains may be kept in an urn, buried in a cemetery, or scattered in keeping with current state rules and regulation.
How long does it normally take to complete a cremation?
The process itself is brief, usually requiring 3-6 hours at a normal operating temperature of 1600 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The time required depends upon the size of the individual and type of container or casket selected.
In Texas it can take several days to secure the necessary documents and comply with the legal waiting period before the cremation can occur.
Because of the finality of cremation, in many states, there exists a mandatory 48 hour waiting period which ensures the cremation does not occur prematurely. If a waiver to cremate can be obtained from the legal authority where the death occurred, it may be possible to proceed with cremation prior to any required delay.
Can two cremations be performed at once?
No. It is illegal to do so. Additionally most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult. We rigorously adhere to the highest level of care and integrity in all we do to serve our families.
We will make every effort to assure families of the integrity and security of the cremation process. If they wish, they may accompany their family member to our new cremation center and remain to witness the start of the cremation.
What happens following the cremation process?
Following the actual cremation, all remaining materials are retrieved from the cremation chamber and placed into a stainless steel collection pan for cooling. Once cooled, all metal materials (metal casket parts and surgical implants) are removed through visual inspection and use of a strong magnet. The remaining bone particles and ash are reduced to small particles and placed in the selected urn.
What will the cremated remains look like?
The cremated remains will resemble coarse sand and small gravel. They are typically whitish to light gray in color. The cremated remains of an average size adult would weigh 5 to 8 pounds.
Are all the cremated remains returned?
With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.
Do I have to select an urn?
The cremated remains must be placed in a secure container. Although not a state regulation, we do require some type of suitable container or urn be provided. We have many suitable containers or urns to select from beginning at $ 25.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
Although each state regulates this differently there are numerous options available. The cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery, placed in a niche, kept at home, scattered (with permission) on private property, in certain public waterways or at least three miles off most coastlines. If you choose to scatter the cremated remains on land or water, it is advisable to consult the prevailing local authorities.
As you make this decision, there are numerous special urns or containers designed specifically for helping with these various options.
Certainly, if you decide to keep the cremated remains, a wide variety of decorative urns are available to honor the lifestyle, values and religious preferences of the individual or the family. There are also smaller, “keepsake” urns which enable the cremated remains to be divided and kept by various family members.
Most recently, special "Keepsake" jewelry is being designed and crafted in a variety of styles and materials. All have been designed to hold a small portion of the cremated remains.
If the cremated remains are to be buried, special burial urn vaults are available to protect and secure the urn containing the cremated remains. Although not required by state law, some cemeteries require some type of urn vault.
There are also urns designed to assist families in scattering cremated remains either on land or in lakes, streams or oceans. They are all available in a wide range of prices and are available in Step 3 on our web site.
What assurance exists that the cremated remains I receive will be those of my loved one?
This is perhaps the most important issue to the families we serve and absolutely the highest priority for us.
First, prior to cremation, the identity will be verified either through a family viewing, medical or legal certification. Additionally, we have developed the most rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of quality and assure total trust and confidence.
Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process.
We only allow certified professionals to operate our cremation equipment.
Our Ten Steps to Total Assurance
- An Identification wrist band is placed on deceased. If the family is present, they are encouraged to write the name on the wrist band and participate in the identification
- The individual is placed in the cremation container selected by the family and the person's name is written directly on the container or on an attached label.
- The legally authorized family member signs an authorization for cremation, verifying the death of their loved one and giving us permission in writing to proceed with
- The individual’s physician, Justice of the Peace or Medical Examiner or Coroner is made aware of the death and agrees to sign and certify the cause of death on the
- The death is recorded with the County where the death occurred and legal documents are issued for cremation. Additionally, we are required to delay cremation for 48 hours unless a waiver is issued by the Justice of the Peace, Medical Examiner or Coroner.
- The cremation service is logged into our cremation ledger. The name of the deceased, date of birth, date of death, date and location of cremation, time started and operator's name and individual identification number
- A stainless steel medallion bearing this assigned identification number accompanies the individual throughout the entire cremation process.
- Copies of all legal permits and Cremation Authorization are attached to the outside of the Cremation chamber.
- Immediately following the completion of the cremation, the cremated remains are processed and placed in a clear vinyl pouch which is secured closed
and the stainless steel identification medallion is attached. The vinyl pouch is then placed in an urn or Container selected by the family
with the deceased's name already on the container.
- When the cremated remains are returned to the family, all labels and the identification medallion are verified. The family must show picture I.D.
and sign a release stating that they are taking custody of the cremated remains.
Please let us know if you have any questions regarding "Our Ten Steps to Total Assurance." It is very important to us that our procedures and entire cremation process ensures your total confidence and trust.
Can I have a service with cremation?
For families arranging for cremation, many options and possibilities exist.
Cremation can occur following a traditional funeral service with a visitation period, opened casket and service in our chapel, church or other location.
Cremation can be arranged to follow a visitation period with an opened casket and a memorial service arranged at a later date. The memorial service may be as personal and unique as the life lived. The service can be arranged at any time or location and may be held soon after the death or delayed until family members can conveniently gather.
Cremation may also be arranged without a memorial service or visitation.
Is embalming required before cremation?
Each State has its own rules and regulations governing cremation. In most states, embalming is not required by law. Most common carriers (airlines etc.) will require embalming prior to transportation. The laws of the destination state or country will apply.
Because of rapid deterioration following a death, most state laws requires that after 24 hours of death or while in transit, the remains must be embalmed, refrigerated or placed in a leak and odor proof container.
We require embalming, however, if you select a public service or visitation with an opened casket.
Can there be a viewing without embalming?
Yes. For identification purposes, the immediate family may briefly view their loved one in our private viewing room prior to cremation. We will not allow public viewing without embalming.
Is a casket necessary for cremation?
No, a casket is not required. Most states do require that a cremation container, which is rigid for secure handling and made of combustible materials, be used for all cremations. Today, we have a variety of alternative cremation containers and cremation caskets which meet the state standards and are very economical and manufactured especially for cremation.
Can I be cremated if I am Catholic?
Prohibited prior to the Second Vatican, the Catholic Church now permits cremation as a means of disposition, though not their preferred method.
The Catholic Church prefers that a traditional mass be celebrated with the remains present at the church prior to cremation.
It is possible, however, to have a mass celebrated following cremation with the urn present at the church.
If a Catholic service is desired, it is most important that the cremated remains be buried in sacred ground rather than scattered or kept. Once buried, a memorial service can be arranged in lieu of a traditional mass.
What are the legal requirements for cremation?
There are three basic legal requirements which must be met before a cremation can occur.
First, in most states there is a mandatory time delay, usually 48 hours, which must elapse between the time of death and the time of the cremation or a waiver may be granted by the legal authorities.
Second, a legally authorized individual must give permission for the cremation in writing.
Third, a Burial Transit Permit for Cremation, OMI or other legal document must be secured from the Registrar or other official of the county in which the death occurred.
In some states, the local Registrars require a signed death certificate be filed prior to their issuing the Burial-Transit Permit, OMI or other legal documents for Cremation.
Who authorizes the cremation?
The cremation must be authorized by the legally authorized person according to state law. Cremation may not be performed until a legally authorized person gives written authorization for such cremation.
State law also defines who the "legally authorized person" is and sets up the order of priority of next of kin. It is our policy to require this written authorization by executed on our "Authorization for Cremation" form before the cremation is scheduled.
This form must be signed by the next of kin as determined by the order specified by the state of death.
- Self (if allowed by state law)
- Any person designated in a written instrument signed by the decedent (if allow by state law)
- Child/Children of legal age
- Sibling(s) of legal age
- Other adult persons in the next degree of kinship in order named by law to inherit the estate.
How many death certificates will I need?
The number of Death Certificates you require will depend upon your family and your individual circumstances. You will need “Certified” death certificates to complete a variety of legal transactions.
The following lists the most common transactions requiring certified death certificates.
- Probating the Will
- Filing life insurance (each policy will need a copy)
- Changing Property Deeds or Titles
- Closing Bank Accounts, IRAs, Mutual Funds, Stocks or Bonds
Certified Death Certificates are issued by the State or County Registrar where the death occurred. Each state will have their own fees for Certified Death Certificates. It is usually beneficial to order a few extra copies for unexpected needs. Photocopies are not acceptable for legal purposes.
How can I place an obituary notice?
Many newspapers will allow family members to place an obituary notice; others however, may require it to be submitted though a funeral home. Either way, we can assist you in this process for a nominal composition and placement charge.
Please note that most newspapers are now charging for obituary notices. If we place an obituary on your behalf, we will let you know the cost from the newspaper for your approval.
Who will notify Social Security?
When any death occurs, Social Security must be notified. We will submit the initial notification of death to the SSA office which informs them of the death. We suggest that the next of kin contact Social Security at their earliest convenience to determine how their benefits may change and if there are any additional benefits available for surviving family members. Additional information is available on the Social Security Administration website. http://www.ssa.gov
Does Social Security ever pay for the cremation?
Social Security does not pay for final arrangements. While certain survivors may be eligible for a survivor benefit, it will only be sent to the survivor and cannot be assigned to a funeral home. There is a $ 255 death benefit payable only to a surviving spouse or other legal dependent. If there is no legal dependent, the benefit is not available.
For more information, visit the Social Security Administration website. http://www.ssa.gov
Does the Veteran’s Administration ever pay for cremation?
Unless the death occurs while on active duty, the Veterans’ Administration does not pay for cremation or funeral services. They will provide for either ground burial or entombment of the cremated remains in a Veteran’s Cemetery at no expense to the veteran.
They will also provide a flag for military honors, an honor guard to fold or present the flag during a service and memorial marker for the cemetery. For additional benefits which may be available, please visit the Veterans’ Administration website. http://www.va.gov