A Proper Paper Trail for Your Loved One’s Cremains

When a loved one passes away, it is always important to celebrate their life and preserve their legacy. From funerals and life celebrations to ceremonial scatterings, families and friends choose to share memories and reflect on life in different ways.   

One of the first decisions a family must make is how the body of their loved one will be cared for. Traditionally, families have always chosen to lower a casket into the ground. However, cremation has outpaced burials for the last three years and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) predicts that the national rate of cremation will reach 80% by 2035.  

So why does all this talk about cremation matter? When cremation steps are not followed correctly, your loved one’s records will get lost as if they never existed in the first place.  

Genealogy quickly skyrocketed in popularity over the years. In fact, it’s the second most popular hobby in the United States behind gardening. With so much digital history and information at our fingertips, it’s never been easier for people to get involved with genealogy.  

Certain burial records contain important genealogical information that people use to research their family history, including birth and death details, family relationships, indications of service and more. Such burial records are the death certificate and the burial transit permit. The death certificate is a descriptive document that contains the individuals name, date of birth, date of death, social security number, parent’s names, spouses name, informants name and address, disposition, the cause, and manner of death, and is signed by the physician or coroner and the funeral director, and is certified by the state. The Burial Transit Permit is a document that contains limited information about the decedent and is required to follow the individual to his or her final place of disposition. When someone chooses a traditional burial method and rests in a marked gravesite with a tombstone, it is easier to go searching and learn more about their history once the Burial Transit Permit is given to the cemetery and a copy of the permit is then passed on to the health department in the county which the decedent died. This provides a final paper trail for the decedent as the death certificate may only list cremation as the form of disposition, which would only include the name and address of the crematory where the cremation took place. By sending the burial permit back to the county of death this allow the final disposition to be recorded at the same health department where the original death certificate was certified, thus tying them together. 

However, with cremated human remains (cremains), the searching process becomes difficult. 

Not all cremains are buried and marked with a tombstone. Some choose to have their cremated remains scattered on private property, in the ocean, over public bodies of water or at a specific location close to their hearts (check your state laws for legal places of disposition for cremated remains). So, if you choose a place of disposition that does not have staff to properly send a copy of the Burial Transit Permit back to the county of death, be sure to do it yourself and just note the date and place of final disposition on the permit that should be accompanying the cremains, and then mail it, fax it or email it to the health department in the county of death. 

When the final paper trail remains unfinalized, your loved one’s historical data may be difficult to research and possibly not found on ancestry and genealogy websites — almost as if they never existed. With so much time and effort spent honoring the lives of loved ones once they pass, it’s important to preserve their legacies long after death.  

If your loved one chose to be cremated, be sure to finalize the paper trail of their cremains after any ceremonies or life celebrations to certify that a record of their life is kept forever. Your local funeral home can help you with this process to ensure you do not miss any key steps.  

Need help registering your loved one’s cremains?  

Stillinger Family Funeral Homes has been serving families in the Greenfield, New Palestine and Cumberland, Indiana communities for decades. It's important for us to help you pay tribute with a more personalized approach to funeral services, which is why we offer a full range of traditional and special memorial and cremation services for all the families we serve. If your loved one wants to be cremated, we will help you complete all necessary registration steps to ensure they can be remembered long after they pass and have their history preserved forever. 

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