Cremation is regulated just like all other end of life services, and the laws are heavily enforced. Part of the reason why laws are so strict is because there’s not even DNA left after the cremation, which could destroy evidence of criminal activity. There are also environmental impact concerns about cremation that have to be addressed. It’s a legal liability, so states make sure there are procedures to ensure things are done properly.
Cremation regulations primarily fall into one of three categories:
- What has to be done before a cremation can be performed.
- How cremations are performed.
- What happens to the remains after cremation.
State Cremation Laws and Regulations
Cremation is largely regulated by the states. The rules that are in place in your state could be significantly different than the state where a loved one dies. What’s most important is to understand the laws in the state where the cremation will take place.
Some states have very detailed regulations while others have next to nothing on the books. You could find yourself jumping through a number of hoops, or you could have next to no regulations.
Acceptable forms of cremation and what can be done with the remains is usually a part of the state mandates. The state will also control the licensing process for crematoriums and funeral homes.
Another thing the state will regulate is who can authorize a cremation. In the vast majority of states the next of kin can authorize it or someone who is designated as the “authorizing agent”.
You can find information on state cremation laws at:
- The state’s official government website. Often the Department of State is in charge of cremation regulations. However, in states like Texas there is a special dedicated commission called the Texas Funeral Service Commission. And in Arizona they’ve created the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.
- State funeral director associations
- State licensing department
- State environmental protection agency
- State division of cemeteries
- The Office of Vital Records
Local Cremation Laws and Regulations
Actually making sure that crematoriums are operating legally is often done at the local level. The local government may also have their own stipulations for how a crematorium is operated. Issuing cremation permits for cremations is another common task for the local government.
The local agency that’s in charge of cremations is different from town to town. A few places to try first include:
- Public Health Department
- Permits Department
- County medical examiner’s office
- Local funeral home or crematorium
The FTC Funeral Rule
While states have the most control over cremation laws, there is a certain level of federal oversight. The Federal Trade Commision (FTC) Funeral Rule provides regulations for the funeral industry as a whole and consumer protections.
The FTC Funeral Rule makes it clear there are 10 consumer rights that should never be violated or denied. They range from allowing people to buy only what they want/need from a funeral home to getting an itemized price list of services to specifying that embalming doesn’t have to be used.
The Funeral Rule consumer right that’s of most importance with this topic is number eight on the list:
“Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.”
When in doubt, a licensed funeral or crematorium director is an excellent resource. With the Funeral Rule in place you’ll at least know what is absolutely necessary to have a cremation.
Need help navigating the cremation laws? The experts at Direct Cremate are privy to all of the latest cremation laws and regulations. With us, you never have to worry about whether everything is being handled properly. We’re always in compliance and helping our clients stress less about the cremation process.