We received a multi-part question regarding the cremation process and it's timelines in Minnesota.
There is a chance that you might need an autopsy (a medical examination of the body). If there are any questions about the death, or if there is a need for more information, an autopsy will be performed by the medical examiner or coroner. There are many situations that trigger autopsies, such as:
An autopsy can generally be done within 24 hours, although it might take weeks to receive the actual report. See the Minnesota Statues on Death Investigations for more information.
Funeral homes will pick up the body and transfer the body to the funeral home for cremation. If there are no extenuating circumstances, it generally takes 2-4 business days for cremation.
Your family can then pick up the cremated remains from the funeral home, if you desire. Funeral homes could have shipping options, also.
At Gill Brothers Funeral and Cremation Services, we put the cremated remains in either a temporary cardboard or plastic urn that we provide, in an urn provided by the family, or in urn(s) that you can purchase. We also providing shipping and courier services.
Funeral homes, such as Gill Brothers, can work with you to help you have a service at your church. If you want a viewing of the body, we can also help you with that. You might want to think about embalming. If you choose to not embalm the body, the cremation will need to take place within 72 hours after being released.
These costs vary. At Gill Brothers, the costs of transferring the body within the 7 county metro area is included in our Simply Cremation package. If the body is over 400 pounds, or if the body is not located with the 7 county metro area, additional charges could occur. Please contact us for more information.
I want my family to know that I want to be cremated when I pass away. How do I go about this so it is in writing and that they will follow my wishes? Should I do this in a legal document and if so, how?
According to Sandra Stone, a Minnesota licensed attorney practicing in the areas of wills, trusts and probate at the law firm of StoneLAW, PLLC, “ It is always best to talk about your health care and final needs with your family so that they know firsthand your wishes. In addition, I always draft a Health Care Directive at no extra charge as part of an estate plan and include a section on burial or cremation instructions and any further information such as location of a final resting place. This allows family members to have a legal document stating your desires so that they can carry out your final wishes at the appropriate time.”
It also is a good idea to pre-plan/pre-arrange your wishes with a funeral home or a cremation society as well according to Daniel McGraw from Gill Brothers Funeral and Cremation Services.
Currently there are not any laws in regards to holding the remains prior to the cremation. However, once the medical examiner, the family and the physician have signed off, the cremation can take place. In some rare instances, that could be within hour of the death. This is just the law in Minnesota. Each state has their own laws. There is no need to call a cremation society to arrange for a cremation. Any licensed Minnesota funeral director can assist according to Daniel McGraw from Gill Brothers Funeral & Cremation Services.
Thinking about transporting the cremation ashes? One questioner was - she asked: Once a body has been cremated, are there any laws about transporting the remains from one state to another?
Once the body has been cremated, that is what is called “final disposition” and there are no laws in this country governing the transportation of the remains from state to state. However, the TSA has some regulations that pertain to taking cremated remains as a “carry on” while boarding a airplane. The cremation urn cannot be made out of metal because it cannot be x-rayed.
An interesting question about the cremation time table and the impact on the funeral:
What is the average time table from death to cremation so you can have the funeral? I heard it might take up to 7 days to receive the ashes so you can have the funeral.
"Each death and the circumstances are different. Sometimes the cremation could be performed within an hour of the death, which would be usual, to several days, which would be unusual. The average time frame is 12-36 hours after the death.
There needs to be written permission from the family, the attending medical doctor and the local medical examiner. As a cremation provider, we help coordinate all the proper authorizations to make the process simple and easy for the families we serve."
We have gotten several questions about cremation societies, as there seems to be some confusion about whether you need to use a cremation society for cremations and pre-planning.
Originally, cremation societies were formed in the 1800's to educate and promote cremation since, at that time, cremations were not culturally accepted.
Now, though, cremation is widely accepted. So, the cremation societies evolved from non-profit societies promoting cremation to for-profit businesses which provide cremations and cremation pre-planing, once you pay membership dues to join.
As an example, The Cremation Society of Minnesota is owned by the Waterston Funeral Home, a private funeral home in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.
And, the Neptune Society, a national cremation society, is a subsidiary of the for-profit "Service Corporation International". SCI is the world's largest funeral corporation, owns more than 1,500 funeral homes and cemeteries, and has a revenue of more than $2.2 billion.
According to a Business Week article, SCI's size does not relate to savings to the consumer, though. They found that "Nationally, SCI charges $3,396 on average for a cremation with memorial service—30 percent more than independently owned rivals".
In Minnesota, all licensed funeral homes offer cremation pre-planning and cremation. So, your options are very open when searching for cremation services.
Most funeral homes in Minnesota, such as Gill Brothers, also offers you the ability to pre-plan your funeral, including pre-planning your cremation and low cost direct cremation (cremation-only) services.
As with anything, we encourage you to do your homework, as there are many variables when it comes to cremation, such as whether you want a viewing first, and whether you want a service. So, please contact us with any questions you have.
"If I want a service before a cremation, how long can a body be held in storage? I have family flying in from England, and want them to see the body."
The answer depends on if you want to embalm the body or not.
If you want to embalm the body, there is no time limit, and viewing is possible during any time frame. However, you will obtain the best results for viewing if you embalm the body and have a viewing a few days after the death occurred.
We had an interesting question about the pet cremation process for all you dog and cat lovers:
"I would like to have my pet cremated. Where can I have her cremated and can I have her put in my plot where I'm going to go when I'm cremated?"
I talked with Dan McGraw from Gill Brothers, and he answered:
"Your best bet is to contact your local veterinarian to arrange for a pet's cremation. There are not any laws concerning the disposition (burying or scattering of the remains) so the pets remains can be placed with yours and can be buried together. Please contact us if you are interested in setting up a conference to pre-arrange with us your personal wishes."