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Cremation: Legal Issues

Cremation and the law

Cremation is usually the choice of the deceased, a decision that's similar to pre-planning a funeral and will making. A cremation should be pre-purchased and you should have your wishes filed with your will. You'll also want to notify your attorney and family members that you wish to be cremated when you die. Make sure to tell others where and with whom your arrangements are filed.

If you have a living will, this might be a good place to put directives concerning your desire for cremation.

Many states have a form (it might be called an 'Authorization for Cremation') that you need to fill out and sign. You might also have a Power of Attorney signed in case it becomes necessary.

Death Out of State or Out of Country

If death should occur out of state, the body can be cremated in the distant city and the cremated remains will be shipped to their proper place of disposition.

For deaths out of country, the US or Canadian consulate of that country should be able to assist you in making arrangements. You should be able to easily obtain an English (or French) translation of the death certificate and have the remains shipped home.

Complaints About the Crematorium

Should you have a complaint about a funeral establishment, crematory, or cemetery you've dealt with, you should try to settle the dispute in house. Complaints are not common, and when occurring are often resolved between the customer and the licensor; however the funeral industry does have notable problems in some areas, and you may want to keep up on issues of pre-need funeral home deception. Many legal problems in the funeral industry are bypassed when it comes to cremation.

In Canada , you can direct complaints and enquiries to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs or to provincial ministries. For example, in British Columbia , funerals and cemeteries are regulated under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act. Legislation protects consumers' cultural and ethnic rights and enforces consumers' entitlement to disclosure of all options and costs.

The Cremation Association of North America is not a legally binding body, but many of their practices and policies will be enacted by conscientious crematoriums - while less reputable crematoriums may forego them. The Cremation Association of North America Recommended Procedures has some important recommendations for consumers.

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