Cremation Preplanning FAQs

Table of Contents:

  1. FAQs about Cremation Preplanning
  2. General FAQs About Cremation
  3. FAQs About the Process of Cremation
  4. FAQs About the Cost of Cremation
  5. FAQs About Veteran Preplanning
  6. Other Miscellaneous FAQs About Cremation Services
  7. Additional Resources Regarding Cremation

FAQs About Cremation Preplanning

Why choose Neptune Society for cremation services?

Neptune Society is the nation’s premier provider of cremation services, serving communities across the U.S. since 1973. We’ve provided services for more than 500,000 families, and we offer personalized, reliable, and affordable solutions for end-of-life needs. Some of our competitors offer cut-rate services, but they may not include Neptune Society’s reliability and diligence. Quality of care is important with final needs, and you can trust Neptune Society to take care of you and your family.

What does “pre-need” mean?

“Pre-need” refers to any time prior to the official need for cremation or funeral services, specifically before a death occurs. “Pre-need” often refers to the type of advance planning regarding cremation or burial.

What is cremation preplanning?

Cremation preplanning refers to planning your final arrangements, specifically cremation, before the time of need. This means you plan for your own final arrangements or a family plans for a loved one who has not yet passed away.

Why is cremation preplanning a good idea?

Cremation preplanning benefits include the ability to ensure your wishes are carried out, relieving family members of difficult decisions and financial obligations during their time of need, peace of mind that your plans are taken care of, and the ability to reduce some financial burden on your family in the future.

How can someone take charge of their own funeral planning?

Anyone can take charge of planning for their own funeral by considering what options they’d like and taking action to communicate those options and make arrangements for them. Consider writing down your wishes, talking to your family about them, and working with a funeral service provider to choose and pay for products and services in advance.

How can I preplan my own cremation services?

Neptune Society makes it easy to preplan cremation services. Simply follow the steps below.

  • Contact us by completing the form on this page. A representative will reach out shortly after to set up an appointment at your convenience.
  • Arrive at the appointment/seminar and view a presentation.
  • Complete paperwork.
  • Provide referrals, if desired.
  • Rest assured your future has been secured.

When should I make the decision to preplan?

It’s never too early to preplan for final arrangements. Some times to take action include:

  • When you are ready to remove a burden on your family
  • When you have fully decided on cremation or burial
  • When something impactful in life happens and you realize you might not be prepared
  • When you hear about an excellent experience from a friend or family member regarding a certain provider

What information or documents will I need to preplan for myself?

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver’s license
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your DD-214 (only for veterans)
  • A copy of a POA form if you are planning for someone else (and in this case, the above information is required for that person)

General FAQs About Cremation

Are cremation services popular?

As of 2017, more than 50 percent of Americans choose cremation for final arrangements. For more information about why cremation is so popular, read our article on the benefits.

Is cremation environmentally gentle?

Yes, cremation is typically more environmentally gentle than traditional burial, though there are some options for burial in “green” cemeteries. Cremation itself does require fuel, but traditional burial requires the use of a plot of land, perhaps in perpetuity. Even beyond the chemicals and processes required to preserve and bury a body, traditional burial requires that the land be kept from other uses and that fuel and other resources be used to tend it over time.

Do all religions approve of cremation?

Some religions don’t approve fully of cremation, but many religions do. For more information on religion and cremation, read our article that details eight religious views on cremation.

Is embalming required for cremation?

Embalming is not required for cremation, which is one of the benefits. Cremation allows you to save on the expense of this service.

Can my family view my body without embalming?

It is possible to view the body without embalming. Many funeral service providers don’t arrange viewings and funeral services without embalming, though, and if you want to have a traditional viewing without embalming, you may run into some difficulties and tight timelines.

What happens if I’m an organ donor?

Organ donation doesn’t impact your final arrangement options; any processes related to organ donation will occur prior to the processes for cremation. Make sure your family knows you are an organ donor, so they can take appropriate action during the time of need.

Is there a weight limit for cremation?

There is not a weight limit for cremation, though cremating larger bodies can be more complex and costly. Some providers charge additional fees for persons weighing more than 300 pounds for this reason.

FAQS About the Process of Cremation

Please note: the FAQs in this section summarize the actual process related to cremation. This section is included to provide a complete overview of the topic and because many people do ask these questions. If this information may be too graphic in nature for you, please skip to the next section titled FAQs about the cost of cremation.

What happens at the time of death?

The next of kin notifies authorities and makes contact with a cremation or funeral services provider. The provider makes arrangements to transport the deceased to the appropriate facility after approval from the coroner’s office.

How will I be cremated?

Cremation takes place in a cremation chamber. The body is placed into the chamber and brought to extremely high temperatures to render it to ashes.

Can my ashes be separated for family members?

Yes, the ashes can be placed in separate urns, pieces of jewelry, or other memorial keepsakes so they can be provided to multiple family members.

Can two people be cremated at the same time?

Cremation chambers only hold one person at a time. It’s also illegal to cremate two people at a time both for safety reasons and to ensure families are provided with the right ashes.

What temperature is necessary for cremation?

Cremation chambers heat up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for the process of cremation.

What is expected when the ashes are returned to the family?

Ashes are returned to the family in the requested container. This could be a temporary urn or container meant to hold the cremated remains prior to scattering or transfer to another urn. It could also be the urn the ashes will be stored in for some time. Cremated remains usually weigh several pounds.

How can my family be sure that the ashes they receive are mine?

Neptune Society follows strict internal procedures to ensure proper identification of the deceased and any remains throughout the cremation process. Identification is first established at the place of death; an identification band is placed around the ankle of the deceased at that point. The ankle band includes several pieces of information including name, date of birth, date of death, and location, to prevent identification confusion. Before the deceased is removed from the place of death, the identification band is rechecked against any paperwork and identification tags.

At the crematory, the remains are assigned a stainless steel identification disc, which is linked to the digital record for the deceased. That disc is kept with the remains. Following the cremation, the identification disc is placed in the urn with the cremated remains, providing assurance to the family that they have the right remains.

How long does the actual cremation process take?

The average cremation takes between 2 and 2.5 hours, though a larger person may mean a longer cremation time. A cool-down period follows the active cremation before the cremated remains can be processed for a uniform appearance. If the exact time of a cremation is important to you, speak to your provider to understand how specific factors relevant to your family member may impact the process.

Are people dressed when they are cremated?

People can be cremated with or without clothing. Some people choose to be cremated without clothing, but it’s more common for the deceased to be dressed in clothing they picked out for themselves during preplanning or that the family picked out for them.

Can I witness the cremation?

In most cases, the next of kin can witness the cremation. The specifics of this answer depend on the cremation provider and facility. Some facilities allow viewing of the actual event through a small window in the cremation chamber. If this is important to you or your family, talk to your cremation provider about viewing options.

What kind of fuel is used for the cremation?

Most cremation providers use natural or liquid propane gas for cremation. Some may use diesel oil, but that can be troubling for individuals who choose cremation as an environmentally friendly alternative to burial. If you are concerned about the impact of cremation on the environment, speak with your funeral director.

FAQs About the Cost of Cremation

How does cremation cost compare with typical burial?

Cremation is usually less expensive than a typical burial.

What does a traditional funeral cost?

The average funeral cost can range from approximately $8,000 to more than $15,000.

Do people choose cremation only to save money?

No, cremation benefits include flexibility for the family, the ability to hold memorial services much later, and more options for final disposition.

How can I be sure my preplanning funds will be safe?

Money paid under a preneed cremation contract is placed into a state-required trust fund in amounts required under state law, then held and invested according to state law for future need. Trust fund reports are filed with each state where we do business. Your contracts will provide more detail on all the terms, including detail as to the specific amount to be placed in trust, if any, and should be read carefully. Money paid for merchandise purchased on a retail basis and delivered prior to need are typically not trusted.

FAQs About Veteran Preplanning

I am a Veteran; can my cremated ashes be buried at Arlington National Cemetery?

Cremated remains can be buried or inurned at national cemeteries if veterans meet eligibility requirements. The requirements for burial at Arlington National Cemetery can be found here.

Can I use my veteran’s benefits if I choose cremation?

Yes, veteran’s benefits apply to cremation. This includes memorial service benefits, such as flag-folding and honor guard services, and reimbursement benefits.

How do I know if I qualify for veteran’s benefits?

Veterans who have been discharged from any branch of the United States military with a discharge status other than dishonorable are eligible. Your discharge status is recorded on the DD214.

What do veteran benefits cover?

A monetary benefit helps to cover some costs associated with burial or cremation. Families can apply for this reimbursement through the VA after services are rendered and paid for.

Veterans are also eligible for memorial services, which at minimum include a flag-folding ceremony, honor guard of at least two military members, and the playing of Taps.

What is the DD214?

This is the form that details a person’s discharge from the military. It is extremely important when applying for veterans death benefits.

I served in the Navy; can my ashes be scattered at sea after my death?

Eligible veterans of the Navy or their next of kin can request that ashes are scattered at sea. You can find more information about the Navy’s scattering program here. The navy also offers burial and sea and ash scattering services to veterans and members of other military branches who were honorably discharged or actively serving.

Other Miscellaneous FAQs About Cremation Services

What is scattering?

Scattering refers to the act of spreading the cremated remains over a certain area. Many times, family members chose a location that is scenic or meaningful to the deceased.

Is scattering my ashes legal?

Yes, all states allow scattering of ashes. Some states require permits, particularly in state and national parks. Ashes may be scattered at sea three miles or more from land, but EPA reporting may be required. Scattering on private property is prohibited without the permission of the property owner.

What happens to my cremation plan if I relocate?

Contact us today for more information.

What is “at-need”?

“At-need” refers to the time when funeral or cremation services are needed, specifically following the death of a loved one.

What should I do when a death occurs?

First, contact the proper authorities. If it’s an emergency situation, dial 911. In other cases, you can call the police or sheriff’s office directly. Next, contact any funeral or cremation provider previously chosen by your loved one.

What should I do with jewelry and gold teeth during cremation?

Items of value can be removed prior to cremation should the family wish it. Speak to your cremation provider about how you want to handle these items.

What needs to be removed prior to cremation?

Certain medical devices, including pacemakers or radioactive seeds, must be removed prior to cremation for the safety of the chamber and staff.

Can we put special items in their cremation container?

Not all items can be placed in the container, but Neptune Society works to accommodate the wishes of surviving family members. Most commonly, families will ask to place notes, children’s drawings, or other personal messages of love, but other items are also possible. We encourage you to speak with your funeral director to learn the regulations of the specific crematory responsible for your loved one’s cremation.

Can I purchase an urn from another source, or must I buy one from you?

The FTC’s Funeral Rule guides funeral directors in the ethical and fair presentation of funeral service options. The purchase of a cremation urn (or a casket, for that matter) from second or third-party sources is one of the rights it guarantees. Your funeral director cannot prevent you from, nor can they charge you an extra fee for, the purchase of a third-party cremation urn. They also cannot demand you are present for its delivery to the funeral home.

What should I do with my loved one’s ashes?

Families have a number of options for a loved one’s ashes, including keeping them in a memorial urn, having them placed in a cemetery, placing them into keepsake items such as teddy bears or jewelry, and even converting them to tattoos. There’s not a “right” decision, and if you aren’t sure yet what you want to do, consider taking them home for safekeeping in a nice urn until you can make a decision.

Some Additional Resources Regarding Cremation

For more information, check out:


The Neptune Society is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan cremation services in advance, we are always available to assist you and your family.

Call 1-800-NEPTUNE (800-637-8863) today or contact us online to learn more.