818 U.S. Highway 1, Suite 4
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
Phone: (561) 747-9883

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At Avatar Cremation Service & Crematory, we offer online cremation planning for your convenience. You can get a head start on the arrangement process by completing as much of the necessary details as possible in the comfort of your own home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cremation

It's become very common to find a list of frequently-asked-questions on a website; most of us already know the basic definition of "FAQ": "an online document containing a list of the questions most often asked about a particular subject, together with answers".

But, you may find it interesting to learn that its format (a list of questions and answers) is actually quite old. According to the Wikipedia entry FAQ, one of the very first list of frequently-asked questions can be found in a book written almost four hundred years ago, in 1647. This fact aside, today's online FAQ pages offer Internet users fast and easy access to the specific answers they need; and we feel our cremation FAQ is no exception. However, if your question isn't listed here, there's no need to panic; simply give us a call at (561) 747-9883. You can be sure one of our cremation professionals will be delighted to give you the in-depth answer you want and need.

1. What is cremation?
2. How do the world's major religions view cremation?
3. What are the costs involved in cremation?
4. Is embalming necessary for cremation?
5. Is a casket required for cremation?
6. Can I have a memorial service at Avatar?
7. How will my family member's body be cared for, prior to its cremation?
8. What steps are taken to ensure the identity of the deceased prior to cremation?
9. How long does it normally take to complete the cremation?
10. Who authorizes the cremation?
11. What should I do with cremated remains?
12. What do I need to know to transport cremated remains?
13. Who can take possession of a family member's cremated remains?
14. Who notifies Social Security of the death?
15. Do I have to place an obituary or death notice?
16. Who can place the obituary in the newspaper?
17. How do I obtain death certificates?
18. Can I just make my own copies of the death certificate?
19. What are my benefits as a U.S. veteran?
20. Does Social Security or VA ever pay for the cremation?

Question #1What is cremation?
Answer:It is a process which uses extreme heat to reduce a human body to its basic constituent compounds, which are commonly called "ashes". Human populations have used cremation to care for their dead for centuries, and today's technological advances have made cremation a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional burial.

Question #2How do the world's major religions view cremation?
Answer:In some cases, as in Catholicism, religious doctrines around cremation are changing. Protestant denominations are more accepting of cremation; in fact, many were instrumental in the passage of burial reforms measures (many of which supported cremation) at the turn of the 20th century. Hinduism advocates cremation, while Islam prohibits and certain Judaic movements oppose it, as it is seen to violate Talmudic law. If you have religious or spiritual concerns about cremation, we urge you to speak with your pastor or clergy person.  

Question #3What are the costs involved in cremation?
Answer:There really are no standardized cremation costs. Basically, the individual charges which make up the final cost of cremation include the administrative services, transportation of the deceased to the crematory, the alternative or cremation casket selected, and the fees charged by the crematory for the cremation process.

Question #4Is embalming necessary for cremation?
Answer:No it is not. Embalming is only considered necessary when you want to hold a visitation or a funeral with your loved one's body present. We urge you to explore your familial situation with our staff during the arrangement conference.

Question #5Is a casket required for cremation?
Answer:Crematories require the use of what is known as an alternative container. Commonly these are rigid, durable yet totally combustible, cardboard boxes. However, some families choose a more traditional looking cremation casket. Elegant in design, with absolutely no metal parts, a cremation casket is a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the most basic (and purely functional) cardboard container.

Question #6Can I have a memorial service at Avatar?
Answer:No. You may coordinate your own ceremonies, such as a viewing, visitation, or memorial service, but we are not allowed to provide or conduct those types of services as a licensed Direct Disposal Establishment.

Question #7How will my family member's body be cared for, prior to its cremation?
Answer:It is always our intention to provide respectful care of every individual who is entrusted to us for cremation care. This means your loved one's body will be tended to by trained professionals who will ensure it is cremated as soon as possible and kept under "lock and key" in a refrigerated unit until that time.

Question #8What steps are taken to ensure the identity of the deceased prior to cremation?
Answer:We have a reliable, tested identification system in place to assure families that the identity of their loved one will be known to us at all times. A durable identification tag is placed on the body; permanently marked with the individual's name, social security number, date of birth, and date of death. A recent photograph of the deceased is requested from the family, which is used to verify the identity of the body at the time of transportation to the crematory, and prior to the cremation process. This durable tag is cremated along with the individual, ensuring their identity after the process is completed. This tag is included in the cremated remains when they are returned to the family.

Question #9How long does it normally take to complete the cremation?
Answer:Cremation is irreversible. Therefore there are several safeguards in place to insure that a cremation is not performed prematurely. Some state laws require a mandatory 48 hour waiting period from the time of death as a minimum waiting period. In addition, some laws require that the Death Certificate be completed and signed by the certifying physician AND approved by the Medical Examiner in whose jurisdiction the death occurred. While physicians normally sign the death certificate as quickly as their busy schedules allow, it may sometimes take several days to get through this certification process.

Question #10Who authorizes the cremation?
Answer:The cremation must be authorized by the legally authorized person according to state law.

Florida law states "A cremation may not be performed until a legally authorized person gives written authorization for such cremation." (FS 497.607) The law also defines who the "legally authorized person" is and sets up the order of priority of next of kin. This portion of the actual statute is available for reading by downloading our Florida Law Concerning Cremation document which is available through our Download Forms page.

It is our policy to require this written authorization by executing our form "Authorization for Cremation and Disposition" before scheduling any cremation. This form must be signed by the next of kin in this order: Spouse; Children (of legal age); Parents; Siblings; Grandchildren; Grandparents.

Question #11What should I do with cremated remains?
Answer:Some families choose to keep a family member's ashes at home permanently; others do so only until they decide on a location to scatter the ashes. Families can also make arrangements to place their loved one's ashes in the safekeeping of a cemetery mausoleum or columbarium. Still others opt to ship a portion of the cremated remains to other family members, either for a private scattering or as a treasured keepsake.

Question #12What do I need to know to transport cremated remains?
Answer:You may need a set of special documents, including the death certificate, certificate of cremation, and any requisite authorization forms. The U.S. Post Office has specific guidelines for shipping cremated remains; and while most airlines allow you to transport a loved one's ashes (whether human or animal) as cargo, some allow you to transport them within your carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, if you plan on transporting cremated remains internationally, things get more complicated. We advise you to discuss your situation with one of our professionals.

Question #13Who can take possession of a family member's cremated remains?
Answer:If the deceased did not designate someone, the individual identified as the "next-of-kin" (commonly the spouse, domestic partner, child, or sibling of the deceased) is considered the person responsible for making all decisions related to their end-of-life care. However, that person can also authorize another–in writing– to be the responsible recipient of the cremated remains.

Question #14Who notifies Social Security of the death?
Answer:We will send the initial death notification to Social Security. We will send the initial notification of death to the local SSA office (SSA Form 721) to inform them of the death. We then encourage the family to call Social Security at their earliest convenience to determine if benefits will need to be returned to Social Security and if the survivor qualifies for any Survivor Benefits from Social Security. For more information on this subject, you may wish to visit the Social Security Administration website.

Question #15Do I have to place an obituary or death notice?
Answer:Obituary or death notices placed in newspapers are OPTIONAL and are not required. You are not required to publish a public obituary notice. If you wish to remain private and be selective of who is notified of a death, you may choose not to place any public notices. Many people, however, see a real value in placing a notice in the local newspapers and/or "back home" to notify friends and family in the area.

Question #16Who can place the obituary in the newspaper?
Answer:Our staff will assist you with the placement of any desired obituary notices. In some cases, the newspaper may only accept a notice if it is submitted by the funeral home or cremation service. IMPORTANT: MANY NEWSPAPERS NO LONGER OFFER FREE OBITUARY NOTICES!

Be very careful when placing an obituary notice or requesting us to place a notice for you, there may be additional charges from the newspaper for the notice. We will always inquire about any additional charges and communicate with you about those charges BEFORE placing a notice on your behalf. Contact us directly for more information.

Question #17How do I obtain death certificates?
Answer:Our staff will assist you in obtaining any requested certified copies of death certificates. Death certificates are available through the Vital Statistics office of the county in which the death occurred. Each county sets a fee for each certified copy.

Question #18Can I just make my own copies of the death certificate?
Answer:No. Photocopies are not usually allowed. Certified copies of the death certificate are printed on special safety paper and have a raised seal.

Question #19What are my benefits as a U.S. veteran?
Answer:Each honorably discharged veteran is entitled to be buried in a VA cemetery (space permitting) and veterans who choose cremation may even elect to have their ashes placed in Arlington National Cemetery, if desired. In addition, the next of kin of an honorably discharged veteran will be eligible to receive a burial flag in their memory. We will assist you in obtaining a flag and can provide the forms necessary to apply for burial allowance.

Question #20Does Social Security or VA ever pay for the cremation?
Answer:No, Social Security does not pay for final arrangements. While certain survivors may be eligible for a survivor benefit, it will only be sent to the survivor and cannot be assigned by a funeral home or cremation service. For more information, visit the Social Security Administration website.

While the VA may partially reimburse some veterans for final expenses, it is normally only available if the veteran was receiving financial benefits from the VA during life (i.e., retirement, disability, etc.). Determining if a veteran is eligible for a burial allowance can be complicated. We encourage you to speak with a local county Veterans Services representative directly.

Don't See Your Question?

It would be impossible to anticipate every question. If you don't see your question listed here, feel free to call or email us anytime as we would be glad to help you in any way we may. You may also use the convenient form below to submit your question. Please keep in mind that we may be busy assisting families and will answer your inquiry as soon as we are able. If you need immediate assistance, please call us at (561) 747-9883.

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Contact Information 818 U.S. Highway 1, Suite 4
Phone: (561) 747-9883