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Simple Direct Cremation in Florida
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Alternative Container?
AHCS: The Alternative container is best explained as "alternative to a casket" and is the container the deceased is placed in at the crematory. This container houses the remains throughout the refrigeration phase and is ultimately placed in the retort and consumed during the cremation. It is required per Florida Law that all deceased persons are placed in a container.
Q: What is the container for cremated remains?
AHCS: We supply an industry standard hard plastic container for the cremated remains. It is protective for mailing of cremated remains which is done per US Postal regulations. Many families choose to simply use this container, especially when they will be performing a family scattering of cremains. It is accepted at the Veteran's Administration Cemeteries for burial. Other cemeteries have individual rules and requirements depending on state and local laws and the guidelines of the particular cemetery. Check with the cemetery you plan to use for specific information regarding their requirements.
Q: How much do Death Certificates cost and how do we get them?
AHCS: The fee for certified death certificates is $8 each. American Heritage supplies one certified death certificate with the arrangement, and will obtain as many additional certified death certificate as the family requests. The family pays for all additional copies at the rate of $8 each.
Q: How many death certificates are necessary?
AHCS: We provide one certified copy of the death certificate with the arrangement. The specific number necessary depends solely on the assets and jointly held assets of the individual at the time of death. Otherwise, it is difficult to establish ahead of time how many will be needed but here are some guidelines:
Original certified copies are generally required to file life insurance claims, for cancellation of pensions, annuities, transfer of stocks, etc. Original certified copies are necessary for property title transfers. Banks generally want to see a certified copy but do not always require one for their permanent records. Generally it is best to call each institution for specific information on whether they require a certified copy and if they will retain it.
Florida law requires all public records to be filed without cause of death information. When ordering Death certificates you need to know how many are necessary with the cause of death (traditional death certificate; usually required for life insurance) and how many without cause of death (also called confidential copy).
Q: If someone dies at home by natural causes or even enroute somewhere, how does one go about getting a death certificate and is it necessary to have one before you pick the body up?
AHCS: A death certificate is not necessary to take the body into our care. The death care provider (cremation society or funeral home) is responsible for producing the certificate and getting the doctor to sign and complete the cause of death portion of the death certificate. The death care provider must also then file the death certificate at the office of vital statistics in the county of death and, if correctly completed, certified copies may be obtained. A responsible death care professional will have systems in place in order to work with the variables of each doctor and their office. At AHCS, we tell families that death certificates usually are certified in around 10 business days. This is a starting point and we are able to advise more accurately after working with the Doctor's staff. As a provider, we are able to have a completed certificate to any doctor within 24hrs of the doctor or his immediate staff confirming with us that he will in fact sign the death certificate and where he will be. Some, but not all, doctors will essentially drop what they are doing and complete the certificate when one arrives to be certified. Other times, in fact quite often, days may pass before we are able to obtain the certification. The Doctor, however, should not be rushed to sign the certificate, as an incorrectly filled out certificate will need to be redone and possibly could delay proceeding with death care services, depending on the disposition.
It appears that I gave you the wrong county of residence. As a result I will need
an amended copy of the death certificate. I went to Vital Statistics, but they
said it would have to come through the funeral director.
AHCS: Unfortunately death certificate
amendment is a costly, timely procedure. Our fee for this Process is itemized
on page 2 of our General Price list linked below: "Death Certificate Amendment
$99". The Current State Fee is $20 & includes 1 Certified Copy of the
death certificate. Additional copies at the time of making the amendment are
$4.00 each. Also indicate how many should require cause of death and how many
without showing cause of death. We will then have the forms drawn up, notarized
& send them with detailed instructions to the informant listed on the death
certificate. They will then be sent to Jacksonville to be approved for amendment.
The fee with one certified copy would be $115. We can only amend death certificates originally issued by our firm. Depending on item need to be corrected. additional documentation for the change may be required by the state of Florida.
American Heritage Cremation Society General Price List
Q: What delivery options are available?
AHCS: American Heritage includes one delivery of the cremated remains in the arrangement. The family designates where the cremated remains are to be delivered- i.e., local family delivery, shipped out of state to distant family, delivered or shipped to cemetery or other party. The method of shipment is by United States Postal Service & their requirments specific for cremated remains.. USPS is the only carrier that knowingly ships cremated remains.
If the family requires additional delivery- if the cremated remains are divided and delivered to family members at different locations- there is a charge for additional deliveries. Call for current information pertaining to multiple delivery charges.
Q: My neighbor found her husband dead this morning and she called 911 and they came with two fire trucks and a rescue vehicle and asked her questions for hours. Apparently her husband had not seen a Doctor recently and he would not take the responsibility of signing it. I believe the sheriff's office was called and a county coroner had to come and sign for the body to be taken to Gainesville for an autopsy before a death certificate could be signed. It was a bit of a nightmare in my opinion. I am a Hospice volunteer and my only dealings have been with Hospice and they have taken care of everything and the procedure has been very easy and comfortable for everyone. I believe people should be educated as to how to handle these situations in the event of an unexpected home death. I will be doing some investigating myself and sharing the information with as many as possible. But I wanted to know your policy.
AHCS: We refer to the call we receive at time of death as the "first call". The call placed to us must be from a medical professional or someone in a official capacity (EMT/Sheriff/Police). When a family member is found to have died at home and a home health care or hospice is not in attendance we direct them to call 911. The authorities will pronounce death, rule out foul play and try to secure a physician if the deceased had been under a Doctor's care. If the deceased was not under the care of a doctor or Hospice, and no doctor can be found with an adequate "case history" to feel comfortable certifying the cause of death is of natural causes, then they are transported to the Medical Examiner with jurisdiction in their county. (Some counties share Medical Examiner's offices, and it is refereed to as a district.) In some cases an "exam" is all that is necessary and an autopsy is not performed. Usually one is. Chapter 406.11 of The Florida Statues direct what constitutes a case where the medical examiner must be called. If a death occurs under ANY of the following circumstances, then the Medical Examiner is responsible for determining the cause of death and they are authorized to take any action they deem necessary, including autopsy, to determine the cause of death: 1) Criminal Violence 2) Accidents 3) Suicide 4) Sudden death when in apparent good health 5) Unattended by a practicing physician or other recognized practitioner 6) In a prison or penal institution 7) In police custody 8) In suspicious or unusual circumstances 9) By criminal abortion 10) By poison 11) By disease constituting a threat to public health 12) By disease, injury, or toxic agent brought into the state without proper medical certification. It appears as though your friend referenced above fell under the jurisdiction of #5. The procedures above are reasonably described as routine in a home death situation. This is of course necessary for the public health and welfare, that all unattended deaths be properly investigated. Your experiences with Hospice are of course different, as Hospice patients are terminal, and under the care of a practicing physician. That is a different situation than an unexpected home death. It is good that you are taking the time to become informed and help to educate others. Of all the situations that can happen, this question is one of the most commonly asked about, yet least to occur. Of course, to those that it does happen to, being informed ahead of time about what to expect can decrease the anxiety about the situation.
Q: How are obituaries handled?
AHCS: American Heritage will work with one Newspaper as part of our fee. We submit obituaries 1 of 2 ways.
1. We will request the information be edited so there are no newspaper charges. We generally do not have control over length or content. The papers are generally very good at zeroing in on the pertinent facts
2. We request that the newspaper return with a quote. Fees run up quickly. If they are more than you expect, you may reply to us with an edited version. Your credit card will be required to run the obituary and we will not authorize payment with out your approval.
Newspapers will generally work directly with the families next of kin and if you need the notice to run immediately American Heritage suggests your family work directly with the newspaper(s). Remember, any thing rushed can comprimise integrity. Usually, you only need to give the newspaper our name & phone number to confirm the death has occurred & most papers have ways to receive an obituaty via email or online.
sure to advise us which way you would like the obituary to be submitted.
Out of State Coverage & Florida Coverage
Q: I am a Florida Resident but reside in another state for 5 or 6 months of the year. If I should die while at my other residence would that be considered as "traveling or extended vacationing" and be included in your coverage?
AHCS: Coverage is only for deaths that occur in the Mainland of Florida.
Q: Also, my wife is an out of state resident. Is there a branch that she can join? Again with the issue of her death possibly occurring while in Florida.
AHCS: Research the options by cremations societies licensed in her state. Otherwise you may simply want to keep our business card with you for coverage while you are both in Florida.
Q: What is this for and why do you refer to it a temporary or necessary?
AHCS: Florida law requires that an unembalmed body be kept under refrigeration. We do not embalm therefore we refrigerate. We commonly refer to the amount of time of refrigeration included as necessary. Meaning the time necessary for us to obtain required medical certifications, Medical Examiner approvals, permits and filing of the death certificate as required by Florida law. Refrigeration for these requirements are included. Unnecessary refrigeration is when a family has delayed the process by not completing the authorizations for cremation.
Scattering of Cremated Remains "Cremains"
Q: If one elects to be cremated at death, are there Florida laws governing where the cremains may be released?
AHCS: There are no specific funeral statutes at this time concerning disposition of cremated remains by the public off the coast of Florida. When American Heritage Scatters cremated remains for families, it is performed 3 nautical miles offshore to comply with federal regulations. We only offer unattended placement at sea.
Transportation from the place of death:
Q: Do you pick up the body form the place of death and transport it to your location in Holiday?
AHCS: American Heritage has crematories located throughout the different regions in Florida. Usually the body is transported to our closest facility in the area where the death occurred. If the families needs are best served at a facility in another region, then transportation may be to a crematory further from the place of death.
Q: Any day?
Q: Any time?
Q: Do you make arrangements at National Cemeteries for Veterans?
AHCS: Yes, we direct the family to the central scheduling process. Graveside services, honors and clergy are options you may choose through the servicing cemetery.
Q: Do you transport cremains to National Cemeteries?
AHCS: Yes. We will deliver or ship to any cemetery that will accept cremated remains As of "9/11" Some cemeteries- such as Arlington National will not accept cremated via registered mail. This may result in a additional receiving fee for a 3rd party delivery.
Q: Can a responsible party be present during the actual cremation?
AHCS: In limited areas, we are able to offer a "cremation viewing", which is limited to a 15-minute period where the responsible party witnesses the deceased's placement into the retort for the cremation process. This is limited to two people and generally is charged $ 295 - $500 depending on the area. The actual complete cremation procedure is anywhere from 1-2 hours, not counting time for cooling of cremated remains prior to final processing. During that time other procedures are taking place at the crematory, such as receiving other deceased, pacemaker removals, processing of cremains, etc. It is not appropriate to have non-personnel inside the crematory during these times. Basically, the cremation witnessing takes place at a scheduled time, when other operations may be temporarily suspended for this brief period. This is why they are limited in time and also why a fee for the service is charged. Physiology of the body after death is also a concern as there are no preparation room services available and on occasion the body will require the services of a Funeral Home. Ask, our director on call before engaging our services.
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Florida Administrative Offices:
American Heritage Cremation Society
*5438 Flora Avenue, Holiday, Florida 34690-6501
*Death care emergencies rerquire 24 hour, 7 days a week availability. Our adminstrative offices are by appointment.
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