Direct Cremation: What You Need to Know

Direct cremation is when the body of the deceased is cremated without any additional funeral services. It is the best option for a family or individual looking for an affordable disposition choice. Even if you think that this option makes the most economic sense in your situation, there are still important factors that you should know before finalizing plans.

What does a direct cremation involve?

Direct cremation does not involve formalized funeral services beforehand, therefore you may directly contact a crematory instead of a funeral home in order to arrange a cremation. When it comes to direct cremation, no viewing, visitation or wake services will be carried out beforehand. This means that additional body preparations, such as embalming aren’t needed and won’t need to be paid for. Once the cremation process is complete, you may elect to have the ashes of the deceased returned to you in a simple container if you haven’t purchased an urn or other specialized container.

Can there still be memorial services?

To be clear, a direct cremation does not involve any viewing, visitation or wake services beforehand to formally memorialize the deceased. If you are electing these arrangements prior to cremation, then you are electing to have a traditional cremation, not a direct cremation. However, this does not mean that arrangements for memorial services can’t be made at a later date after the direct cremation has been completed. Be certain that you account for this in your planning to ensure direct cremation is the best choice for you.

How to arrange a direct cremation

You may contact a crematory or funeral home to begin preparations for a direct cremation. The majority of crematories are expected to be able to handle complete cremation planning in the same way that funeral homes are, including finalizing a death certificate, transporting the body and providing container options for the ashes if you haven’t already purchased one at a retail or online marketplace. Note that a crematory will often be the less expensive option compared to obtaining these services through a funeral home.

Your rights under The FTC Funeral Rule

Before making arrangements with a funeral home, it’s important that you know your rights as a consumer which are  protected under The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule.

  • Funeral homes are required by law to include direct cremation options as part of their services. Therefore, if the funeral home insists you must choose a higher priced plan with viewing and visitation services, you do not have to.
  • You are not obligated to use or purchase a casket to contain the body during the cremation process. If the funeral home tells you that you must purchase a casket, you do not have to.
  • Funeral homes are required to have containers available if you wish to use one for cremation. These simple containers will typically be made of wood or specialized cardboard.