Losing a dearly loved one can be a challenging experience. Most families like to deal with their loss and grief in their own time. However, there always seems to be an inherent rush to either bury or cremate the dearly departed. Some families choose to have a full-blown traditional funeral with a service and a burial, while others prefer a quick cremation so they can grieve in private. One of the most vital things you should know is the laws for cremation so that you are well prepared to handle such a situation. Here are a few details about the cremation and burial laws in Florida.
Laws Around Obtaining a Death Certificate.
In the state of Florida, the death of a family member needs to be registered within five days of their passing with the state or vital local offices. Once their death has been registered, a death certificate is issued. In most cases, a funeral director will assist grieving family members in reporting death and issue a death certificate, without which a cremation or a burial cannot proceed. According to Florida law, the cause of death is not a compulsory field to be displayed on a death certificate. However, if the next of kin or a legal representative requests for the cause of death, it can be included in the document.
Florida Laws for Cremation
According to the Florida Statutes 497. 005, the legal definition of cremation 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, re-cremated, or otherwise further reduced in size or quantity.”
Since the definition of cremation in Florida gets updated frequently, it now includes and deems it legal for a dead human body to be cremated with Alkaline hydrolysis.
The first 48 hours are crucial after a passing, as Florida law now allows the final disposition to occur within that period, and the body must either be embalmed or refrigerated within the first 24 hours. You may not perform cremation services until a legal authority gives the go-ahead. This requires all legal next of kin to sign a cremation authorization form unanimously for the cremation to be conducted. If the deceased has no family member, a personal representative of the deceased has complete authority to request cremation and proceed with all the legal paperwork. Once a specified time for cremation has been put into writing, the cremation must be performed within the next 48 hours.
Florida law also states that you do not require a casket for a burial or a cremation. Funeral homes and crematories are legally required to inform you that you can use an alternative container for the cremation remains, according to Federal law. The same law also states that they are required to provide you with an alternative container upon request and accept caskets or urns provided by family members.
Florida Post-Cremation Laws
Once the cremation process has been completed, the legal next of kin is responsible for the body’s disposition and has full rights to possess the body or cremated ashes. Florida law states that the crematorium is required to hand over the ashes to the same person who brought the dead body for cremation. However, if they are unable to receive the ashes, the remains can be held for up to 120 days, within which they are supposed to claim the remains.
If you plan on scattering the ashes of your loved ones in a location, there are now laws prohibiting that. The same goes if you plan on keeping the ashes with you. If you want to bury the remains in your own backyard, Florida law allows you to do so; however, it is wise to cross-check with the county and city zoning ordinances for a hassle-free experience.
Burial Laws in Florida
Typically, embalming is the preferred way in which families choose to conduct the burials of their loved ones. During this process, all the blood is drained from the body and is replaced with a fluid that significantly slows down the disintegration process of the body. Although refrigeration serves the same purpose, embalming is the ideal procedure for an open-casket funeral.
While most dead bodies are buried in cemeteries, no laws in Florida stop you from burying your family member in your backyard. According to the Florida Division of Funeral, Cemetery & Consumer Services, Florida allows the establishment of cemeteries if the land is less than two acres and the burial rights are not up for sale. However, checking with the county or city zoning ordinances before burying a dearly departed on private land is necessary.
Scattering Laws for Cremation
However, if you plan on scattering the remains of your dearly departed, there are
certain things you should be aware of.
Scattering on private land
If you plan on scattering the ashes over an established scattering garden, you can get express permission from the owner. Most cemeteries have a separate garden built specifically for scattering ashes. However, you can scatter ashes on your own land, or if you want to scatter it on someone else’s land, you will need to take prior permission from the owner of that private land.
Scattering on public land
Some families may prefer to scatter ashes on public land; however, you will have to check the city and county regulations in tandem with the zoning rules before scattering on public land. Some families scatter the ashes in public parks without prior notice, which is not recommended.
Scattering on federal land
Scattering your dearly departed’s ashes on federal land can be intimidating. You should request prior permission with the local or state land. Although the authorities might have no qualms with you scattering ashes on federal land, you can land in trouble if you do so without permission. The best way to do it safely is to go through the website of the National Park Service and look for any information.
Scattering at sea
According to the Federal Clean Water Act, cremated remains need to be scattered at least 3 miles from the coast. If the urn or the container does not decompose easily, you will be required to dispose of it separately. The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) does not allow scattering on beaches or in wading pools beside a sea. Furthermore, you must notify the EPA that you have scattered the remains of a dearly departed within 30 days of the scattering.
Scattering at rivers and lakes
If you wish to scatter ashes on inland water bodies like rivers or lakes, you will have to obtain a permit from the state agency that monitors and manages the waterway. This can be done in accordance with the Clean Water Act.
Scattering from air
Florida has no laws in place that prohibit scattering ashes from the air. However, federal aviation laws prohibit the dropping of any objects that can deal damage to people or property on the ground. The only way to legally scatter ashes from the air is to empty them from an urn or container and not dispose of the container while in the air.
The Bottom Line
Although the laws for cremation and burial laws in Florida are straightforward, it is always good practice to stay ahead of things and learn about them. However, it is vital to have someone reliable and professional who stays up to date with these laws and can guide you throughout the process. That is where professional crematories come in. Their years of experience and knowledge about rules and regulations allow them to easily navigate any hurdles so that you can grieve without worrying about Florida laws.