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Cremation

USLegalWills.com is dedicated to providing services related to advance directives, including our MyFuneral™ service, which allows people to specify in advance that they wish to be cremated.  These wishes will be communicated to a personal "Keyholder®", chosen by the member, when the time is right.  Below are some questions and answers related to body burial.  All of these issues are handled easily by the MyFuneral™ service.

What exactly is cremation?

When a body is cremated, it is heated intensely -- 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit or higher -- in an oven-like device called a "retort". It is reduced to several pounds of ash and some fragments of bones, called "cremains" (cremated remains) or they may simply be referred to as "ashes". The entire process takes from two to three hours. Larger bone fragments within the ashes are usually pulverized before being gathered. The ashes can then be placed in an urn or other container to be given to a relative, buried, or entombed in a cemetery or a "columbarium", an arrangement of niches in a wall or a room where urns can be placed as a permanent memorial. Alternatively, ashes can be scattered on land or over water, depending on local laws and restrictions.

What does a cremation cost?

The cost of cremation varies widely depending on the institution handling it and the region of the country, but it usually runs from $300 to $1,000. This is substantially less than the cost of full body burial and this cost savings is the most common reason for opting for cremation. It is also regarded as a more environmentally friendly means of body disposition.

If I choose cremation does it mean I don't need a fancy casket?

Being cremated does not mean that you cannot have a full funeral service. But it can save costs, as only a simple container is necessary for the cremation (even though you can choose to have a nicer casket for the service).

What is "Direct Cremation"?

Direct cremation means that you are cremated without a traditional funeral service, which also reduces costs significantly. In this case, no viewing or visitation is involved, although a memorial service may be held with or without the ashes present. Funeral providers who offer direct cremations also must offer to provide an alternative container that can be used in place of a casket. The ashes should then be stored in an appropriate container.

Are there any restrictions on the type of container used to store ashes?

There may be restrictions on the type of container that can be used depending on any religious beliefs that you may have. For example, it is now possible to have your ashes stored within jewellery although some religions regard this as unacceptable. There may also be restrictions on the size of the container, if it is to be stored in a columbarium.

What exactly would I be paying for if I choose cremation?

Costs include the funeral home's basic services fee, as well as transportation and care of the body. A crematory fee may be included or, if the funeral home does not own the crematory, the fee may be added on. There also will be a charge for an urn or other container. The cost of a cemetery plot or crypt is included only if the ashes are buried or entombed.

What if I have decided to donate my body or organs after my death?

If you have chosen to donate organs, you still have the choice of cremation. If you have chosen to donate your whole body to medical science then the medical school will usually cremate it and bury or scatter the ashes in a specified plot. However, most institutions will agree to return the remains to a friend or family member for final disposal - -usually within a year or two. Note that in some cases, a body donation may be rejected because of the condition of your body or simply because it is not needed. In either case, you should indicate your preferences for whether your body should be cremated or buried. 

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