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Cremation Questions Answered by Professionals

"We moved my in-laws in with us to Detroit Lakes, MN, and they both want to be cremated. We are trying to plan final arrangements so they can get what they want."

What are the best steps to take towards this?

Great question! You are on the right track - it is so much easier to make the decisions you need to make before death. And, the best way to make sure your relatives' cremation wishes come true is by putting their wishes into writing. Towards this, you can enlist the help of a funeral professional, or you can do this yourself by following the steps below:

Contact a funeral professional

It does help to work with funeral professionals, as they can visit with you to assess your wishes. And, they can talk about the best way towards making your relatives' wishes a reality and properly set up prearranged cremation plans.

Towards this, Gill Brothers Funeral Directors can help you - just contact us. Be sure to ask about our inflation-proof guarantee.

Do it yourself

If you would rather take steps on your own, the best place to start is to put their wishes into writing. Before documenting their wishes, you might want to consider the following:

  • Do they have someone they trust that they can specify as an agent that will carry out their wishes?

  • Do they want a service?  A cremation does not negate a funeral. They can decide if they want a funeral service before the cremation, or if they would rather have a memorial service after the cremation. They can also decide on the location of the funeral or memorial service: perhaps a favorite church, funeral home, nature area or mausoleum.

  • What should be done with the ashes? There have been many stories of people fighting over who can receive the ashes. In fact, the division of the ashes of Kirby Pucket, our Minnesota Twins baseball star, was hotly contested by his children and his financee. Writing down their cremation wishes will avoid issues like these.

  • Do they want the ashes scattered? If so, where - do they have a favorite spot? Before specifying this spot, be sure that you are allowed to scatter ashes on the spot - see the our Minnesota Cremation page on scattering ashes for answers to the questions we have received about scattering ashes.

  • Would they rather have their ashes buried? If so - where?

  • Be aware that many religions have strong beliefs about cremation. For example, although the Catholic church now allows cremation, they strongly recommend that the cremation ashes not be given to a survivor(s), nor should the ashes be spread. Rather, they encourage you to bury the ashes. So, be sure that you review their religious beliefs before documenting their cremation needs.


Documenting their cremation wishes

To document their cremation needs, a good starting document can be found at http://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/estate-elder/b/estate-elder-blog/archive/2012/09/20/model-will-provisions-pertaining-to-cremation.aspx  Like all legal documents, be sure you run this by an expert before you finalize a document like this.

Minnesota Health Care Directive

As you are documenting their cremation wishes, it would also be a good time to create/update a Minnesota Health Care Directive for them You can find one at: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/fsos/projects/pdf/HCDprint2012.pdf. This is about their ever-important health care wishes - but it also includes the ability to specify an agent for carrying out their funeral wishes.


How does a person make arrangements to use the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel for a memorial service?

Lakewood Cemetery Chapel, located with the cemetery at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis MN is available at no cost for those people who have their cremated or casketed remains interred at the cemetery. There also is no charge when Lakewood Cemetery performs the actual cremation process.  Some Cemeteries, including Lakewood , operate a licenced crematory in the lower level of the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel. A licensed funeral home, such as Gill Brothers Funeral and Cremation Services, has to arrange the cremation service even if the cremation is preformed at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN  according to Daniel McGraw of Gill Brothers Funeral and Cremation Services.


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?

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.


Who can sign for a person to be cremated in Minnesota?

Who can sign for a person to be cremated in Minnesota is spelled out in Minnesota Statute 149 A: Subd. 2:

"Determination of right to control and duty of disposition. The right to control the dead human body, including the location and conditions of final disposition, unless other directions have been given by the decedent pursuant to subdivision 1, vests in, and the duty of final disposition of the body devolves upon, the following in the order of priority listed:

  • (1) the person or persons appointed in a dated written instrument signed by the decedent. Written instrument includes, but is not limited to, a health care directive executed under chapter 145C. If there is a dispute involving more than one written instrument, a written instrument that is witnessed or notarized prevails over a written instrument that is not witnessed or notarized. Written instrument does not include a durable or nondurable power of attorney which terminates on the death of the principal pursuant to sections 523.08 and 523.09;
  • (2) the spouse of the decedent;
  • (3) the adult child or the majority of the adult children of the decedent, provided that, in the absence of actual knowledge to the contrary, a funeral director or mortician may rely on instructions given by the child or children who represent that they are the sole surviving child, or that they constitute a majority of the surviving children;
  • (4) the surviving parent or parents of the decedent, each having equal authority"


See the full text here.


I have been unable to determine who, apart from the Cremation Society of Minnesota, provides cremation services. 

Is there an available reliable listing of the Minnesota providers of cremation services?

There contines to be confustion about who can provide cremation services, as this question shows.

The answer is that you do NOT need a Minnesota cremation society to obtain cremation services. In fact, any licensed funeral home in the state of Minnesota will help arrange for and provide cremation services according to Daniel McGraw from Gill Brothers Funeral Home

You can see a complete list of all the Minneapolis and St. Paul Metro area funeral homes at the The Minnesota Funeral Plan.


Can a cremated family member be placed on top of a mother or father in their plot?

This is up to each individual cemetery.  Each cemetery that is licensed in the state has its own rules and regulations. The cemetery owners/board of directors would make the decision for their own cemetery.


Do I need a cremation society for cremations and cremation pre-planning?

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.

Cremation societies started as for-profit organizations

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.

Cremation Societies are now for-profit businesses

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".

Now, all licensed funeral homes offer cremation services

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.

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