Many families today are choosing cremation. All funeral homes advertise “cremation services”, but don’t be fooled! Practically all area funeral homes use common, multiple user, off-site industrial crematories to handle their cremations. Watts Funeral Homes though owns and operates their own on-premise crematory ensuring you the highest standards of care, comfort and accountability. Being an actual crematory operator and serving more cremation families every year than the majority of all other area funeral homes, we know all there is to know about cremation, and would like to share that knowledge with you so you can be an informed consumer. Please attend one of our free monthly cremation seminars and Cremation Tribute Center guided tour. Or, with our “open door” policy, drop by anytime and we would be proud to give you a private tour of our operation. Following are answers to some of the more common cremation questions.
What is cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone particles and ash through the application of direct flame and intense heat.
Can I have a service with cremation?
For those desiring cremation, you actually have more options and flexibility when it comes to service offerings. Everything is available from a traditional funeral ceremony followed by cremation and then burial to a memorial service after the cremation has occurred. Furthermore, since we are not restricted by the operating hours of the cemetery, you have the flexibility to schedule your ceremonies for day or night.
Is embalming required?
No. Florida law does require that the body be embalmed or held in refrigeration following 24 hours after death. We do require embalming if you elect to have a public ceremony with an open casket.
Is a casket necessary for cremation?
Florida law does require that the body be held in a rigid, leak-proof container for dignified storage, transfer and handling. Today, we have a variety of cremation caskets and containers that are very economical and manufactured specifically for cremation.
Can We Witness the Cremation?
Definitely. Our Cremation Tribute Center was built so that the initiation of the cremation process could be witnessed whether for religious, peace of mind, or other reasons the family can even start the cremation equipment if such participation is preferred for religious reasons.
Can I be cremated if I am Catholic?
Prohibited prior to the Second Vatican, the Catholic Church has permitted cremation as a means of disposition, though not the preferred method. Our St. Augustine Diocese now permits the cremated remains to be taken to the church for the memorial mass. We would be glad to provide you with a copy of the Diocese’s guidelines for cremation.
What are the legal requirements for cremation in Florida?
There are three basic legal requirements which must be met before a cremation can be performed in Florida. First, at least 48 hours must elapse between the time of death and the time of the cremation. Second, a legally authorized individual must give permission for the cremation in writing. Third, the District Medical Examiner must give approval for the cremation which requires a completed death certificate for their review.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
Your options are many. The cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery, placed in a columbarium niche, kept at home, scattered on private property or at least 3 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Our staff can assist you in exploring those options.
Who Authorizes the Cremation?
The cremation must be authorized by the legally authorized person according to Florida 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. It is our policy to require this written authorization by executed on our form “Authorization for Cremation and Disposition” before scheduling any cremation. This form must be signed by the next of kin in the order listed below:
1. Deceased (prior to death) 2. Spouse 3. Children (of legal age)
4. Parents 5. Siblings 6. Grandchildren 7.Grandparents
How long does it normally take to complete a cremation?
In Florida, it can take several days to complete the cremation process. Cremation is irreversible. Therefore there are several safe-guards in place to insure that a cremation is not performed prematurely. • Florida law requires a mandatory 48 hour waiting period from the time of death as a minimum waiting period. • In addition to this waiting period, the law requires 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 take a few days sometimes to get the Death Certificate through this certification process. • Although this certification process before cremation does require some time, it also insures that cremations are not performed before any questions about the cause of death have been adequately answered. • The staff at Watts Funeral Homes will always make every effort to complete the cremation for you as promptly as procedural requirements will allow.
How long does the cremation process take?
It depends on the size of the individual and the type of cremation container or casket. Typically, the process takes 2 to 3 hours at a normal operating temperature of 1600 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
What happens following the cremation process?
Following the actual cremation, all bone particles and other materials are retrieved from the cremation chamber by sweeping them into a stainless steel collection pan for cooling. Once cooled, all metal materials (metal casket parts, hip joints, & bridgework) are removed by both visual inspection and use of a strong magnet. The remaining bone particles and ash are then reduced into a small, consistent size and placed in the selected urn.
What if I don’t want to scatter or bury? Can I keep the ashes at home?
Yes. You may certainly keep the ashes at home. We’re asked this question quite often. In Florida, you may keep the ashes at home with you as long as you choose. If you choose to keep the ashes at home, we would recommend that you consider using a decorative urn or container, however none is required by law. Another very popular option is Keepsake Urns. Keepsake Urns are small decorative urns designed to hold a small portion of the ashes. This allows one or more family members to keep a small portion of the ashes while the remainder may be buried or scattered elsewhere.
What do cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse beach sand. They are typically light gray in color. The cremated remains of an average size adult would weigh between 5 to 8 pounds and usually take up 200 cubic inches in volume or less. Except for some minuscule amounts of cremated remains which cannot practically be removed from the cremation chamber, all cremated remains are placed in the selected urn. If the amount of cremated remains cannot fit inside the selected urn, then any excess cremated remains would be returned in a temporary urn supplied by our crematory.
How many Death Certificates will I need?
The number of Death Certificates you require will depend on your individual circumstances.
Death certificates are normally required to settle the affairs of the deceased, therefore, the number required will be dependent upon the quantity and status of these assets. We will assist by providing a list of common instances where death certificates are required. In certain cases, you may wish to consult with your legal advisor on this topic.
Can I just make my own copies of the Death Certificate?
No, you should not use photocopies in lieu of Certified Copies of the Death Certificate. The Certified Copy of the Death Certificate is printed on special safety paper which includes a Water Mark. Photocopies are not usually allowed.
Who places the Obituary Notice?
Our staff will assist you with the placement of any desired obituary notices in local newspapers. 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.
Does Social Security ever pay for the cremation?
Social Security does not pay for final arrangements. While certain survivors may be eligible for a survivor benefit, it will be 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.
Who notifies Social Security?
We will send the initial death notification to Social Security. When a death occurs, Social Security must be notified. 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.