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Before Cremation Takes Place


by The Cremation Association of North America

The information in this article is intended to help you more fully understand what occurs in the cremation process. The steps are detailed and should be carefully considered.

Please note that this article has been prepared on a general informational basis. Because of variations in state/provincial and local laws, there may be some difference in legal requirements.

Before cremation takes place, any scheduled ceremonies, rites of passage, or viewings have been completed. All authorization forms and permits must be completed and signed.

The funeral director or cremation provider should be made aware if the decedent has a pacemaker, prosthesis, or any other mechanical or radioactive devices or implants, as they may have to be removed prior to cremation. If such devices or implants should have been removed and were not, then the person(s) authorizing the cremation will be responsible for any damages caused to the crematory or crematory personnel by such devices or implants. The funeral director or cremation provider should also be made aware if the decedent was recently treated with any radioactive medication.

All personal possessions or valuable materials, such as jewelry or dental gold, if so desired, should be removed by you or your designated agent prior to the time the decedent is transported to the crematory. Due to the nature of the cremation process, any materials not removed from the casket/container prior to cremation will be destroyed, or, if not destroyed, will be disposed of by the crematory in a non-recoverable manner in accordance with applicable laws.

Most crematories require the body to be cremated in a combustible, leak-proof, rigid, covered container, if a casket is not being used.

Non-combustible materials on caskets, such as decorative handles or rails, latches, etc., which could cause damage to the cremation equipment, may be removed prior to the cremation and disposed of by the crematory in a non-recoverable manner. Some states/provinces and some crematories do not allow metal caskets to be used in cremation. If a metal casket is used, the remnants of the metal casket shell will be disposed of by the crematory in a non-recoverable manner following the cremation.

Depending on the state/provincial and local laws, there may be a waiting period of up to 48 hours from the time of death before the human remains may be cremated.

The crematory must be notified if anyone wishes to witness the casket/container being placed in the cremation service. If witnessing is offered, the crematory may require a waiver or hold-harmless agreement to be signed to protect it from any liability.

The crematory should be provided with an urn in which the cremated remains will be placed. If no urn is provided or the urn is not large enough to hold all the remains, the crematory will place the remains or any excess in a container made of plastic, light metal, cardboard, unfinished wood, or other suitable material to hold the remains until an urn is acquired or the cremated remains are scattered.

This information was updated September, 2000.


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