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florida cremation laws

Cremation has grown to be a preferred method of body disposition in the US with more than 50% of Americans choosing cremation over a traditional burial, each year. But despite popularity cremation remains largely unsupervised in the state of Florida, giving surviving family members many options and flexibility. 

But though cremation is not strictly regulated in some avenues, there are existing laws that one must follow to be able to legally proceed with the cremation process. 

Florida Law Regarding Death Certificates

Florida law requires that within five days of your loved one’s passing, you register their death with the state or local vitals office, before a disposition is performed. Once you register a death, the death certificate can be issued. Typically your funeral director will prepare and file the death certificate. A death certificate is required to perform the cremation process.

By Florida law anyone may order a death certificate, that does not provide the cause of death. However only the next of kin or legal, personal representative may order a death certificate which contains the cause of death. 

Florida Laws for the Cremation Process

According to Florida Statutes § 497.005 the legal definition of cremation in the state of Florida is:

“Any mechanical or thermal process whereby a dead human body is reduced to ashes and bone fragments. Cremation also includes any other mechanical or thermal process whereby human remains are pulverized, burned, recremated, or otherwise further reduced in size or quantity.”

Over time, Florida was one of the first states to expand their definition of cremation to what it is today and legalized Alkaline hydrolysis as a disposition of a body, which is now available in some funeral homes. 

Florida law requires that the final disposition will not occur within 48 hours of passing, the body must be embalmed or refrigerated within 24 hours. However a cremation may not be performed until a legally authorized person gives written authorization for such cremation. This means that all legal next-of-kin must sign a Cremation Authorization Form and must all be in total agreement regarding this procedure. Under Florida law such individuals could include a surviving spouse, child, parent, or sibling. If no family member survives, then the personal representative for the deceased has the authority to request cremation and proceed with the legal paperwork. 

Once a specified time has been agreed to in writing, the cremation must be performed within 48 hours of that time. 

No law requires a casket for burial or cremation. In fact, funeral homes and crematories are required under federal law to inform you that you may use an alternative container for the cremation process. They are also required to provide the alternative container upon your request. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept caskets and urns provided by consumers.

Florida Laws post the Cremation Process

The legal next of kin or personal representative is responsible for the disposition of the body, and is also entitled to possession of the body or cremated ashes. A crematorium authority is legally required to hand over the ashes to the person who delivered the body for cremation. That entitled individual has 120 days from the date of cremation to claim the ashes.

There are no Florida state laws that restrict where you may keep or scatter ashes. You are also allowed under Florida law to have a burial on your private property. While no state laws restrict this, it’s a good idea to check county and city zoning ordinances.

Rules and regulations, be it federal law, state law or county restrictions can get confusing and can also change over time. When a loved one passes it’s important to have someone reliable and professional who knows these laws and is up to date with changes and options. At Cremations of Greater Tampa Bay we are available to help you navigate through this challenging time, understand all your options and proceed with as much ease of mind as possible. 

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Disclaimer

Florida law states “A cremation may not be performed until a legally authorized person gives written authorization for such cremation,” (FS 497.607).  Furthermore, the law defines whom the “legally authorized person” is and sets up the order of priority of next of kin. We require a written authorization before scheduling any cremation or funeral services. The “Authorization for Cremation and Disposition” form must be signed by the next of kin in the following order: spouse, son or daughter (of legal age), parent, brother or sister, grandchild, grandparent.

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