Most people have many questions about handling affairs after a death as well as questions about the cremation and the process of arranging the cremation. Here we have provided some clear, easy to understand answers to the most commonly asked questions we receive about cremation in Florida.
Who notifies Social Security?
The Social Security Administration will be notified automatically.
When a death occurs, Social Security needs to be be notified. The Florida Department of Health sends an automatic communication to SSA when a death certificate is processed. We 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.
How long does it take to complete a cremation?
In Florida, it can take several days to complete the cremation process.
An average time frame will be approximately 7-10 days for completion. Please remember this is only stated as an average, it could be completed sooner but may also take longer as well. Here is why:
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 Affinity Direct Cremation Service will always make every effort to complete the cremation for you as promptly as procedural requirements will allow.
Who may authorize 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. This portion of the actual statute is available for reading by downloading our "Florida Law Concerning Cremation" document which is available through our Download Forms page.
It is our policy to require this written authorization by executing 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:
- Children (of legal age)
Please call us anytime at (813) 684-7500 to discuss this further.
Can we see the body prior to cremation?
Affinity is not able to provide any viewing of the body.
Affinity Direct Cremation Service is licensed by the State of Florida as a Direct Disposal Establishment. This means that we may not provide any ceremonies such as a viewing, a visitation, or memorial service.
Who places the Obituary Notice?
Most commonly, the family will place the obituary notice directly with the newspaper.
In some cases, the newspaper may only accept a notice if it is submitted by the funeral home or cremation service. In situations where the family is unable to place the notice, our staff can assist.
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. Contact us directly for more information.
Do I have to place an Obituary Notice?
Obituary Notices placed in newspapers are OPTIONAL and are not required.
You are not required to publish a public obituary notice. If you wish to remain private and be selective of who is notified of a death, you may choose not to place any public notices. Many people, however, see a real value in placing a notice in the local newspapers and/or "back home" to notify friends and family in the area.
How do I obtain Death Certificates?
Our staff will assist you in obtaining any required Certified Copies of Death Certificates.
Certified Copies of Death Certificates are available through most Vital Statistics offices. We initiate the death certificate which is then delivered electronically to the certifying physician. As soon as the death certificate is completed by the physician and approved by the Medical Examiner, it is registered with the State Office of Vital Statistics. Once it has been registered, CERTIFIED COPIES of the death certificate may be ordered. In most cases, we can order certified copies for you through the local Vitals Statistics office at $10 each. The fee for Certified Copies of the Death Certificate may vary by county. For example, Hillsborough County currently charges $10 for each certified copy, while Pinellas County charges $8 and Pasco County charges $10. For more information, you may visit their websites by using the following links: Hillsborough County • Pinellas County • Pasco County
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.
To assist you in this decision, we have a death certificate checklist you may download from our Download Forms page.
Can't 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 and has a raised seal. Photocopies are not usually allowed.
Can I have a Memorial Service at Affinity?
We do not provide Memorial Services, but you may have a Memorial anytime and anywhere you choose.
Affinity Direct Cremation Service is licensed by the State of Florida as a Direct Disposal Establishment. This means that we may not provide any ceremonies such as a viewing, a visitation, or memorial service, but it does not mean you may not have a Memorial Service.
You may coordinate your own memorial service whenever and wherever you choose. We can provide printed items such as MEMORIAL CARDS, REGISTER BOOKS, ETC. to use for your ceremony but we may not be involved in the ceremony or coordinate it for you. We invite you to browse our Online Store where you can view some of the memorial items we offer.
What are the laws regarding scattering ashes?
There are no laws in Florida specifically prohibiting scattering ashes.
Florida Law does not prohibit scattering ashes. This does not mean, however, that you may spread or scatter the ashes anywhere you choose.
- You should not spread or scatter ashes on public lands or any inland bodies of water such as streams, rivers or lakes, etc.
- You may spread, scatter or bury ashes on any private land that you own or have obtained permission from the owner. We would suggest that you obtain this permission in writing.
- Many states have different laws regarding this subject. If you are considering spreading or scattering ashes somewhere other than Florida, you should check the laws of that state before proceeding.
- Scattering or spreading ashes in the ocean is permitted, however federal regulations do specify this should be done only beyond 3 miles from the coast. We offer Scattering at Sea as one of our services.
Please visit our Scattering Information page for more information and suggestions about scattering ashes.
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. We offer several types of decorative urns and sharing urns suitable for this purpose and would invite you to browse our selection.
What are my benefits as a Veteran?
Veterans may be eligible for several different benefits.
Any honorably discharged veteran is entitled to certain benefits upon death, but may not always be eligible for monetary benefits. To determine whether you qualify for monetary benefits or reimbursements, we encourage you to speak with a local county Veterans Services representative: Hillsborough, Pinellas or call the Veterans Administration directly.
Each honorably discharged veteran is entitled to be buried in a VA cemetery (space permitting) and veterans who choose cremation may even elect to have their ashes placed in Arlington National Cemetery, if desired. In addition, the next of kin of an honorably discharged veteran will be eligible to receive a burial flag in their memory. We will assist you in obtaining a flag and can provide the forms necessary to apply for burial benefits.
For more information about Veterans Benefits, visit our Veterans Information page.
Does Social Security or the VA ever pay for the cremation?
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.
The VA may pay a partial reimbursement to the survivor for final expenses for certain veterans.
For more information about Veterans Benefits, visit our Veterans Information page.