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Phone: 612-861-6088

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cremation

Over the years we have received several cremation questions. 

Here are some quick links to topics:

Cremation Facts

Cremation Process

Cremation Costs

Urns & Ashes

Scattering of Ashes

We have listed answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cremation that we have heard below. If you have a cremation question that is not answered below, please do not hesitate to ask us today.

My mother passed 8 years ago and was cremated. When I went to visit her I found the plaque missing from her rock, went back the next day and the manager sat me down and to my disgust she told me they put her with someone else. I broke down in tears and left.

My mother passed 8 yrs ago and was cremated. when I went to visit her I found the plaque missing from her rock, went back the next day and the manager sat me down and to my disgust she told me they put her with someone else. I broke down in tears and left. When I went back 2 days later to find her rock moved aside, a pile of dirt and a hole in the ground. They dug her back up without permission. What can i do from here?

The best thing to do is contact Ron Gjerde at Lakewood Cemetery Association located in Minneapolis, MN.  (info@lakewoodcemetery.com) Ron is the president of the Minnesota Cemetery Association and will be able to direct you in the proper direction if there were any inappropriate actions taken by the cemetery.

A person passed away and we are not sure of what funeral home is taking care of them. How can we find out who is handling the services?

Outside of calling each individual funeral home and checking with the local news papers obituary or death notices section, there is no quick way to find out what where a service is being held.  Many funeral homes also post obituaries on their website, such as Gill Brothers Funeral and Cremation Services

What is the contact phone number or email for questions regarding donating my body to the University of Minnesota?

Many people want to donate their body to the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest program.  The best way to contact them is through e-mail: bequest@umn.edu or telephone 612-624-1111.

How to Make a Whole Body Bequest

Before making a decision regarding whole body donation, we suggest you read the information on the Bequest Home page and the Frequently Asked Questions section. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us for clarification before proceeding. We also suggest you talk it over with your family and/or interested others before making your bequest.

Step 1:

Obtain an Anatomy Bequest Donation Form. Forms can be mailed to you or downloaded and printed from this page.

The first form is for an individual wishing to donate his/her own body to the bequest program. For the online form, clink here:

Form to donate my body to the University of Minnesota (PDF)

The second form is for donating the body of a family member. For the online form, click here:

Next-of-Kin/Authorizing Person Donation form (PDF)

You can ask us to mail you a form by:

Completing an Inquiry Form
Calling the Anatomy Bequest Program at 612-625-1111, or
Emailing the Anatomy Bequest Program at bequest@umn.edu

Step 2:

Make sure the Anatomy Bequest Program Donation Form is completed, signed and witnessed by two people. The signatures do not have to be notarized. Please return the original form to the following address:

Anatomy Bequest Program
University of Minnesota
3-005 Nils Hasselmo Hall
312 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0215

If you also have an Advance Health Care Directive, please enclose a copy with your bequest form.

The original bequest form must be on file at the University of Minnesota at the time of death. Upon receipt of the completed original form, the Anatomy Bequest Program will send you a letter of acknowledgement and a donor wallet card


We suggest that you make copies of your bequest form and give them to persons who would be notified at the time of your death. It is important that your physician, your family and your friends know of your bequest so they can make sure your wishes are carried out.

How to Cancel a Bequest

If you wish to cancel your bequest, please call us at the number below and tell us you wish to cancel. We will mail your original bequest authorization form to you, and you will no longer be a whole body donor. Your bequest authorization is not binding in nature and may be rescinded at any time. Be sure to inform your physician, your family and your friends of your decision not to be a donor.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Anatomy Bequest Program:

Phone: 612-625-1111
Fax: 612-625-1688


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.


What is the cat and dog cremation process - and can my pet share my plot?

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. If you are interested in setting up a conference to pre-arrange with us your personal wishes Dan McGrawt at Gill Brothers Funeral Home will be ahppy to connect with you.

What are the cremation laws about transporting across state lines?

Once a body has been cremated, are there any laws about transporting the remains from one state to another?

The answer:

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.

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.

Does a medical exam need to happen if natural death occurs?

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:

  • suspicious deaths
  • determining the cause of death if there had been no medical diagnosis before death
  • determining if death was caused by a hereditary illness to help the family
  • providing legal evidence, such as if a work environment, or medical service, contributed to the death
  • families requesting autopsies to ease their mind

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

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