Cremation services in Pennsylvania, regardless of the funeral home you decide to work with, must conform to the laws and regulations of the state. While those are set and cannot be altered by individuals or a funeral home, choosing cremation in Pennsylvania rather than burial can provide families with additional opportunities to honor and memorialize their loved one.
What Is Cremation?
In its simplest form, cremation is the act of disposing of a body through burning. Cremation services in Pennsylvania offer an alternative to burial. This doesn’t mean that every aspect of a funeral has to be different if cremation is chosen over burial; it just means that the way the body is handled is different, depending which option is chosen.
This decision is obviously an important one to make, and it will be influenced by various factors including the deceased’s wishes, personal beliefs, religious beliefs, and the laws of the state you are in.
Cremation is an option with a deep history. Modern practices have made the practice more efficient and while some might think that opting for cremation limits ones options in terms of funerals and memorials, we’ve not found that to be true. It’s important to remember that deciding on cremation in Pennsylvania doesn’t take away your ability to plan a service or memorialize your loved one in both traditional and creative ways.
While services can vary from person to person based on individual desires and beliefs, the laws and regulations of the state you are in do dictate how funeral homes treat bodies after death. While the information shared here is meant to be helpful and informative, it’s by no means definitive or intended to be an all-encompassing resource about who can authorize cremation in Pennsylvania or whether or not to choose cremation in Pennsylvania.
We encourage you to reach out for more information or to ask clarifying questions, whether you’re curious about cremation in general, Pennsylvania’s cremation laws and requirements, or other options available to you and your family. Our everyday practice is that no question is too trivial to ask, and we pride ourselves on being here for the community during times of need.
Who Can Authorize Cremation in Pennsylvania?
Like any law, the determination of who can authorize cremation in Pennsylvania can vary depending on individual circumstance. And while it might sound odd, the rules of who can authorize cremation in Pennsylvania, or make decisions at all about the remains of a loved one, are based on law rather than emotion. This means that sometimes the messiness of life can mean that what might seem like an obvious answer is actually not within the parameters of the law.
Life events that can muddy the waters when it comes to making end of life decisions include, for example, divorce, estrangement, and incomplete or insufficient legal documentation. In Pennsylvania, it’s vital to understand a person’s line of consanguinity as well as the intricacies of documents like Powers of Attorney and Letters of Intent.
Of course, the easiest way to ensure that your loved one’s wish to be cremated is honored is to pre-plan their services when they are healthy. This might seem like a morbid activity to some; but ensuring ahead of time that plans are in place can be a relief to both an individual and their loved ones.
What are Lines of Consanguinity?
Consanguinity means that one person is of the same bloodline as another, or direct descendants. The phrase “next of kin” is used to identify those who are within a line of consanguinity. An example of this is a mother and child, or grandmother and grandchild. An example of a relationship that does not qualify as a line of consanguinity is husband and wife.
According to Pennsylvania statute, if no pre-death plans are in place when someone dies, that person’s surviving spouse is the person who can make decisions about the deceased’s body. If the decedent is not married, that decision falls to next of kin.
It’s important to note, however, that the statute also stipulates that the spouse or the next of kin have sole authority only “absent an allegation of enduring estrangement, incompetence, contrary intent or waiver and agreement which is proven by clear and convincing evidence.”
This can be confusing for many people, especially if a loved one’s relationships were complicated. For this reason, we suggest working with a funeral director who understands the intricacies of the law and can help you navigate through each and every stage of the process.
How Much Does it Cost to be Cremated?
The costs of cremation in Pennsylvania or of any funeral service will vary depending on a variety of factors. Because we do not offer one-size-fits-all services, we do not issue blanket proclamations about pricing for cremation services in Pennsylvania.
We do, however, want you to be fully informed of what it costs to cremate a body and what other costs are associated with a funeral or a burial, if you so choose. No matter which Pennsylvania funeral home you choose to work with, you should know that you have the right to call a funeral home and be given a price over the phone. By law, you are not required to visit the funeral home in person.
That price should be clear and exact, and should not change once you go into the funeral home in person to finalize the arrangements. The price can change, however, if you choose to change or add services.
In addition to the rules above, the FTC’s Funeral Rule guarantees you additional rights, including not being required to purchase more services than you desire. This means that while many funeral homes offer packages, you do not have to buy them. You can buy individual goods and services if you so choose.
The FTC Funeral Rule also stipulates that the funeral home will give you, in writing, a statement that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement(s) that may require you to purchase certain funeral home services or goods.
Cremation Services in Pennsylvania
We are proud to have worked with Pennsylvania families since 1950. We understand that handling the death of a loved one brings stress and uncertainty, especially when the loss is unexpected. We are here to help you through each step of the process, from choosing either burial or cremation, understanding embalming, planning a funeral and memorial service, and navigating the legalities required of you by the State of Pennsylvania.
Whether you are in need of immediate funeral arrangements or you have questions about pre-planning, we are here for you.