California Cremation Requirements

Families who have just lost (or will soon lose) a loved one and people who are planning their own final arrangements should know that cremation requirements vary by state. The list for California is too long to cover in a blog, but I wanted to share a few points about cremations in the Golden State.

The person who has the right to control the disposition of the body must sign a written authorization before the cremation. Along with the authorization is a Goods & Services agreement detailing the costs for the cremation, for disposition of the cremated remains, and for any other services desired.

A burial/cremation permit must be issued by the county health department. The funeral establishment usually arranges to obtain this permit as part of its services.

A casket is not required for cremation by California law, but a combustible cremation container, also known as an alternative container, is. The container must be one that can be closed and is leak-resistant.  You do not have to buy the container from the funeral establishment or crematory, but it does have to meet the standards set by the crematory.  This is not only for the dignity of the deceased, but also for the safety of the crematory operator.

You should make a decision about removing all personal possessions of value, such as jewelry or mementos, before your loved one is taken to the crematory. Pacemakers, defibrillators, and mechanical or radioactive devices must be removed prior to cremation.  It is not uncommon for prostheses and implants to be removed as well.

Disposition of Cremated Remains

In California, you may choose any of the following methods of disposition of cremated remains:

  • Placement in a columbarium or mausoleum
  • Burial in a plot in a cemetery

(Note: In both of the options above, there may be additional charges for endowment care, opening or closing, recording, outer burial container, flower vase, and marker.)

  • Retention at a residence – The funeral establishment or crematory will have you sign a Permit for Disposition showing that the remains were released to you and will file it with the local registrar of births and deaths.
  • Storing/inurning in a house of worship or religious shrine if local zoning laws allow.
  • Scattering in areas of the State where no local prohibition exists and with written permission of the property owner or governing agency.
  • Scattering in a cemetery scattering garden.
  • Scattering at sea, at least 500 yards from shore (not from a pier). This also includes inlandnavigable waters, except for lakes and streams.

Again, this is not a complete list. Fortunately for you, the experts at aCremation keep track of the legal requirements and are always willing to answer your questions when you call 1-877-353-3626.

aCremation provides affordable, direct cremation services in California and Texas. We are a licensed funeral establishment in California and cover the Los Angeles (including Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties), San Diego and San Francisco Bay (including Concord, Fremont, Marin, Oakland, San Jose and San Mateo) areas. Visit our California Contact Us page for a list of the areas we serve.

Mary Beth Barnett

About Mary Beth Barnett

Mary Beth Barnett is a licensed Funeral Director in Texas. Her involvement with aCremation began before our doors opened – researching how we could provide affordable cremations and still keep quality and service standards high. Through this process, she developed a passion for working with families who are going through one of the most stressful phases of life – planning for death.

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