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How much does Cremation cost?  Our most economical direct cremation costs $1,845 for non members, and $1,795 for members.  That cost includes transportation from the place of death to our closest location, obtaining cremation permission from the next of kin and county medical examiner and performing the cremation.  Many families will select a cremation that includes viewing of the deceased at their church or our chapel or with a memorial service, selecting a cremation service with viewing will increase costs.  Continue reading for questions regarding having a viewing prior to cremation.


How do I become a member?  There are many ways to become a member.


  • A membership form can be printed from our web site,  Once completed, it can be mailed to our Administrative Office.  4343 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55409; along with a check for $15 which is the membership fee, and any other items you may wish to prepay for.


  • Someone can also cut out our membership form from the newspaper and complete it the same way by mailing it.


    • Our staff can fill out a membership form for you, over the phone.  The $15 membership fee can be paid by credit card over the phone at that time.


    • Membership forms can also be faxed to our administrative office at 612-827-0370, or emailed to


    • The membership Fee is not refundable and covers the cost for setting up your account and maintain your records.



What are the benefits of becoming a member?  The biggest benefit of becoming a member is that we will keep your information on file until it is needed.  Many survivors will know the information needed from the membership form, but many will not know the spelling for things such as someone’s mother’s maiden name, or place of birth.  By having that information on hand, things will go smoother for your survivors.


Becoming a member also reduces the cost for the cremation by $50.


It allows someone to sign and authorize their own future cremation.  In some cases, when the deceased does not have a next of kin, having their own signature can be extremely helpful to fulfill their wishes to be cremated.


Members will get notices each time a major change happens to our industry or prices.


If my parents, or husband or wife, are members, does that make me also a member?  No.  Each person must complete a membership form, with their information to be considered a member.


Is there a way to check and see if my mother/father/ etc. is already a member?  Yes, if you spell their full name, and give us their date of birth, we can check on their status.


Can I prepay for my or someone else’s cremation on a credit card?  At this time we only take cash or check for prepayment.


How does the prepayment process work?  When someone decides to prepay for their cremation, they will send in a completed membership form, along with a check payable to the Cremation Society of Minnesota.  Our staff and preneed specialists will mail them a packet of information and membership cards.  They will also mail a single sided insurance policy that will need to be signed and mailed back to us.  There will be a prepaid envelope enclosed to mail the policy back to our offices.


Once received back to our offices, the signed policy along with check, will be sent to NGL, National Guardian Life Insurance Company.  It typically takes 2-3 weeks from the time the policy gets completed on our end, before the funds get withdrawn from the account.


The members funds sit in an insurance policy until the death occurs.  The account can be closed with a death certificate, or can be canceled at any time with a written request.  Canceling the policy prior to death will result in the return of the current cash value which can only be determined by the insurance company holding the funds.


What does a “Guaranteed” cremation mean?  The term, “guaranteed cremation”, has been around for a while.  It simply is the industry term that means someone has paid in full for their cremation and no more will be due at the time of death.  When someone prepays in full at today’s cost, their funds are placed into an insurance policy.  The Cremation Society of MN, will mail the member a letter of guarantee for the cremation.  Over the course of time, the prepaid account will generate interest.  The interest stays within the policy and is used to make up the difference in the future cost.  All funeral homes do the exact same thing with their guaranteed items.


If there is a difference, say $200 in the amount that is in the account, vs. the amount of our future cremation costs, then the Cremation Society discounts the cremation, so that it reflects a $0 balance.


Its rare, but happens now and then, where an account has more money in it, in the future, than our future cremation cost.  If this is the case, anything over and above the cremation can be used for other funeral items or expenses, or can be returned to the next of kin.


Can I prepay for other items?  Such as an urn, obituary, chapel rental, food for a luncheon, flowers, etc.?  Yes.  You can prepay for nearly any final expense item.  Our costs, (cremation, chapel rental, an urn) are considered “guaranteed” items, and are treated the same way as the cremation in the future.  Other items that are not our expenses, such as the obituary or flowers, may cost more in the future.  The account we can help set up will hold the money you place in it.  It will make interest, which will hopefully be enough to cover those costs in the future, but are not guaranteed items.


What if plans change and we decide to use another funeral home or cremation provider?  Not to worry.  Any funeral home in the USA are able to make a claim on the insurance policy we set up.  Our company is not listed as the beneficiary, “irrevocable to any funeral home as its interest appears”, is listed as the beneficiary.  In the case of us holding funds in a trust account, then a letter from the account holder, signed and witnessed, along with a photo copy of their license would be required to close the account.  A trust account can be closed after a death, but a death certificate would be required.


What is the difference between the Insurance Policy and Trust Account?  The Trust Account, is nothing more than a savings account being administered by a trust.  The interest generated is considered income earned, and each year, those with active trust accounts receive a 1099 form for taxes.  A Trust Account can be closed, and the entire value of the account is available.


The Insurance Policy, is a one-time payment life insurance policy.  The funds also generate interest, better interest than the trust account, however the interest is not considered an asset.  With this plan, you do not pay taxes on the interest.  To surrender a life insurance policy, the policyholder takes a significant penalty by “cashing out” the policy prior to death.  This amount is usually 60% of the prepaid amount.


Depending on your circumstance, one account may be better than the other.  In the near future, a “guaranteed cremation” will only be possible by placing the funds in the insurance option.


Is there a payment plan?  We allow members to make payments at their convenience.  Because of the high administrative cost to update and deposit funds into these accounts, we ask that payments be of at least $200 per occurrence.  Payments of less than that amount may be returned.  Each time a payment is made and received, our offices will send correspondence acknowledging the amount received, and the current difference in our cremation cost.  The cremation can only become “guaranteed” when payment for the cremation is in full.


What is Cremation?  Cremation is the process of reducing human remains to its basic elements in the form of bone fragments through flame, heat and vaporization (usually 1800 – 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more). Cremation occurs at a crematory in a special kind of furnace called a cremation chamber or retort. The resulting bone fragments are further reduced in size through a mechanical process and are referred to as “cremated remains”. (It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes.) After processing, the cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container suitable for memorialization, transport or interment. Depending upon the size of the deceased’s skeletal makeup, there are normally four to eight pounds of cremated remains resulting.


How long is the wait from the time of death before the cremation can take place?  The cremation cannot take place until the county Medical Examiner and legal next of kin approves the cremation in writing.  A next-of-kin, usually approves the cremation within a day or two after a death at the time of their arrangements.  The county Medical Examiner typically takes 2-3 business days to approve.  Medical Examiner’s do not sign on weekends or holidays.  If a death takes place on a Monday with no holiday’s that week, its most likely that the cremation could take place on Wednesday or Thursday of that week.  The only delay would be if a Medical Examiner deemed it necessary to investigate the death or question the cause of death.


How long does the Cremation Process take?  Most cremations average 2 – 2 ½ hours.


How many cremations take place at a time?  It is only possible and legal to perform one cremation at a time.  Modern Crematories are only designed and built to cremate one individual at a time.


How am I sure the cremated remains I receive are those of my loved one?  Each deceased person gets a label attached to their body from the moment they arrive at our holding location.  The identification tag is kept with them throughout the holding and cremation process and is only discarded when their remains have been placed in their urn or other container.  Because identification is so important, each deceased person is tracked by a series of unique numbers and recorded in several places each step of the way.  At the crematory, those unique numbers and ID tags must match perfectly with our cremation authorization papers before the cremation can begin.  Each cremation can only take place after a series of checks by the crematory operator.  If anything is missing, the cremation halts.


A family or next-of-kin can also choose to witness the cremation.


What is “witness of cremation”?  A witnessed cremation is one where the cremation is scheduled after all of the authorizations are obtained.  Unless for religious reasons, all witnessed cremations take place first thing in the morning.  When the family arrives, they are brought to the crematory, and their loved one is already on our crematory lift.  Their body is wrapped in a bed sheet with only their face visible.  Usually a family will take a couple more minutes to view the deceased, and when ready the funeral director will use our lift and or crematory loading device and the family will see the body placed into the crematory.  The crematory door will close and the machine will start.  At that time those witnessing will hear the machine start up, and the room will become much louder.  From there, the process will still take a few hours.  Most families will leave, and return later that day or a following day to pick up the remains.  Some families wish to stay for the duration of the cremation, in which case our staff will find an extra arrangement room or other more private area to wait.  We can’t have the family wait next to the crematory for safety reasons.


What do cremated remains look like?  Processed cremated remains are a mixture of powdery and granular substances, and are varying shades of gray to white in color.  The remains of an average sized adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds.


Are all cremated remains returned to the family?  Yes, with the exclusion of minuscule and microscopic particles, which are impossible to removed from the cremation chamber and processing machine.  After each cremation is performed a thorough sweeping of all remains is done and the remains returned to the family.


Can cremated remains be divided up?  Yes, many families will ask us to split the remains so that other family members can have some of their own.


Is an urn required for the remains to be placed in?  There is no law requiring an urn.  Included in our cremation price is a standard container made up of either cardboard or plastic.  This container is suitable for burial.  At all of our locations, a large selection room with approximately 80 urns are displayed.  Should a family have their own urn or container, our funeral directors will be glad to transfer the remains for you.  The smallest container should be no smaller than 3 inches by 9 inches by 6 inches.


What happens if I die out of state?  When someone is a prepaid member of the Cremation Society, the state that they may pass away in will not affect the price of their cremation.  Our cremation service is guaranteed in any state, other than Alaska or Hawaii.


When a funeral director or staff of the Cremation Society is notified of an out of state death, we will work with a cremation provider that is structured just like our company, where our staff controls the process from the initial transportation throughout the cremation.  Our directors will select the cremation provider that can best help in any circumstance, and we will work directly with the survivors as if the death takes place here in MN.  Cremation Society will ensure that all the legal documents in that state get filled out and that a death certificate gets filed in that state.  The survivors will be able to either pick up the ashes at that provider’s location, or they can have them mailed to them, or to our offices to be picked up.


There will be incidentals, the same as would be here for things such as “county medical examiner fees”, “death certificates”, “additional transportation charges,” etc., but the cremation portion will be covered.


EXAMPLE:  A prepaid member of Cremation Society lives part time in Arizona during the winter months, and spends the rest of the time in MN.  They pass away in Arizona.  Their survivors would contact the Cremation Society as soon as the death occurred.  Cremation Society would arrange for transportation by a local cremation company, from the place of death to the crematory.  Cremation Society would be in contact with the next of kin/ survivors to go over death certificate information as well as any other needs the family may have.  Cremation Society staff would forward any extra legal document or cremation authorization form to the crematory in Arizona.  When the cremation is complete, the ashes could be picked up at their location or mailed to the survivors…  Each state charges a different amount for death certificates, and has different fee’s for county medical examiners to approve a cremation.  A death in a major metropolitan area, such as Minneapolis/St. Paul wouldn’t have transportation charges, however, if the deceased was in a place such as Sedona, or Yuma, which are far away from major cities, then additional transportation charges would be incurred, the same as if a death took place in Brainerd, or Rochester.


If survivors of the deceased wish to contact a funeral home or cremation provider and work directly with that company, they may certainly do so.  Doing this allows a family to have access to the full amount of prepaid funds to be used at anywhere in the U.S., but by doing so gives up the “guaranteed cremation”, since they’ve chosen to work with a provider different than we would use.  In some cases, it may be easier and less complicated for a family to choose this option, in some cases it may be best not to.  It is recommended that you speak with a funeral director to review your circumstances and how your funds can best be used for those needs.


EXAMPLE:  A prepaid member passes away in Seattle, Washington.  They passed away there because their family is located there, and it was easier to move them to that area, vs. staying here in MN.  Their family plans on having a memorial service at their church, and needs help with printed material, writing an obituary, help with catering and cemetery arrangements, etc.  An option that may be better for that family would be to give them the insurance policy or trust value, and let them know they can use those funds towards anything at the funeral home of their choice.  By doing this option, the survivors give up the “guaranteed cremation”, because Cremation Society didn’t select the crematory to be used.   Sometimes it may be easier for a family to work directly with a funeral home in their state, and the benefits of doing so, may outweigh the benefits of the cremation guarantee. 


In either case, the best recommendation would be for survivors and family to be in touch with the Cremation Society leading up to the death, to best evaluate their options and prepare themselves.


What is a Private Family Viewing?  A private family viewing is one that takes place on our hospital stretcher, with the deceased covered up to the shoulders by one of our blankets.  Only the face is shown, with a minimal amount of cosmetic work so that the deceased is presentable.  This type of viewing doesn’t require embalming or dressing.  The MN department of health, allows for immediate family members such as Parents, Siblings, Children, Aunts, Uncles, Grandchildren or Grandparents, to view the deceased without extra preparation.  People such as neighbors, cousins and friends are not allowed to view a deceased body at the Cremation Society  without embalming taking place for health precautions. A private family viewing takes place in a small room, able to seat roughly 6-10 people for a short time.  This type of viewing is not considered a wake or public visitation, simply time for immediate family members to say their final goodbye.  The charge for a private family viewing is $150, it includes basic preparation of the deceased face, transportation of the deceased to the chapel nearest them, and the help of a funeral director if needed during that time.


More than one private family viewing may take place if needed.  Each separate viewing requires notification and an additional $95 charge.  A funeral director is assigned to each viewing and is made available during that time.


Example:  The deceased passed away at a nursing home, and some of their children who live out of state must travel over the coming days to be with their family and to see their mother/father one last time.  A private family viewing can be arranged either at the time of their arrangements or at another date.  The children and other immediate family members can arrange to reserve the viewing room, and their loved one will be brought to the location closest to them.


How do we arrange for a deceased person to be transported from the place of death and have their body shipped to another country or state?  Cremation Society of Minnesota will help with all the arrangements that take place in Minnesota.  For transportation on any public carrier, such as a plane, train, bus, etc. embalming must take place.  Depending on the location that the deceased will be transported to, other services may be required.  Some countries require that a deceased be sent in certain transport trays or enclosed containers.  Costs for this service start at $1,595.  Shipping charges from the carrier and other required services may increase the cost.  It is best to speak with a funeral director about each step.


How long can a hospital hold someone’s body after they have died?  Contrary to what a hospital or security officer at a hospital may tell you, they are obligated to hold the body until a licensed funeral director claims them.  Almost all hospital’s have a proper refrigerated storage facility to allow a family time to select a cremation provider or funeral home.  Some hospitals or county morgues have paperwork that requires a family to select and approve only a certain provider to transport their loved one.  Consider your options carefully.


When is payment required?  Payment is required before any cremation can take place.  Most people making the cremation arrangement take care of payments at that time.  Some may need some time to figure out finances.


EXAMPLE:  If a death takes place on the weekend, the Cremation Society staff will work on obtaining all legal signatures and authorizations to perform a cremation.  Because there are weekend days and a waiting period for the cremation to take place, a family can spend a few days figuring out their finances.  They may decide to call our office when they have finances ready, and can give a credit card over the phone.


What types of payment are accepted?  All major credit cards, checks or cash.  Insurance policies must be verified either by our staff or our insurance provider, and may result in a 4% processing fee of the total amount being assigned.  Using an insurance policy may delay the cremation a couple extra days while we can verify the amount and that the policy is assignable to a funeral home.  If you wish to use an insurance policy, it is best to bring the policy in its entirety to the arrangement.  A letter of guaranteed payment is needed in advance, as insurance companies typically take 30 days to make payments.


Can a life insurance policy be used for payment of funeral services?  Yes.  The policy must be brought in and kept for verification.  All services, including the cremation will be “on hold”, until payment can be guaranteed by the insurance company.  In some instances, using “NGL ADVANCE FUNDING” program may be required.  This funding program, through National Guardian Life insurance company will take the administrative work of verifying and guaranteeing payment.  NGL charges the family an additional 4% fee of the total assigned amount to do this work.  Until payment can be guaranteed, via a signed letter from the insurance company on their stationary, no services or 3rd party payments can be made from the policy.


Example:  A family brings in a Prudential, or AARP life insurance policy that was taken out years ago.  Its possible, and likely that over the course of the policy, coverage may have changed, the beneficiary may have changed, the policy holder may have taken out a loan against the policy, or the policy may have a term limit and may no longer be an active policy.  Because there are so many variables to consider, getting a guarantee of payment from the insurance company is absolutely required before it can be used for any funeral services.  In some cases, where a family doesn’t have a physical policy, just a policy number, we may use the assistance of NGL Advance Funding, who will take on the burden of verifying paying and then making payment.  They will charge a 4% fee of the total assigned amount.  Once the policy has been verified with a guarantee of payment, the cremation can be performed and any other 3rd party payment can be made on the families behalf.


The deceased was receiving only Social Security, and the survivors do not have enough funds to pay for the cremation, what happens?  Many people who are on disability or other types of state or county assistance may qualify for county funeral assistance.  Our staff can help locate an application for funeral assistance, the application must be completed by the survivors.  Our staff can also help email or fax those applications, however following up with the county and getting them other required documents is something the family must do.  If a deceased doesn’t qualify for assistance, it is because they have an asset that exceeds the amount of the assistance needed.  Talking to a credit card company or your bank may be the quickest and best option, they may be able to help with a short term loan to cover the basic costs needed, and can use the asset of the deceased as collateral until the loan is paid off.  As a last resort, Cremation Society has an option through “paypal” to finance for 6 months, however the interest rate is just below 20% and is a last and final option.


What if the situation is that a person dies without a next of kin, and doesn’t have known funds, but the person who can approve the cremation doesn’t want to front the funds or pay the cremation?  Funeral claims and reimbursements from funeral related expenses are one of the first to be paid if someone’s assets go through probate.  So in most cases, the person that would front the money, would be reimbursed from the deceased’s assets.  County Assistance can be an option to try to go through.  The Cremation Society of Minnesota has the facilities and staff to embalm someone and keep them in our refrigerated space for quite some time.  In some cases, months, for a case like this to work itself out.  If someone is unwilling to step up and pay.  Luckily there are few instances like this, sometimes performing the cremation to make space becomes a judgment call by the owner.


What is the body wearing for the cremation?  The body is wrapped in a bed sheet at the time of removal from the place of death.  Most deceased people are cremated in the clothing they pass away in, or a hospital gown after they have been discharged and cleared for our staff to transport them.  If a family wishes, we can drape the deceased in clothing or a family blanket.  If a family wishes for the body to be dressed, there is a $250 preparation fee.


*It is surprisingly more difficult to dress a body that is not embalmed, than to dress one that is embalmed.  There can be health risks in dressing and preparing an un-embalmed person, and special equipment that will be used to assist in the dressing.  The dressing also typically will take 2 directors.  The fee can be found in the section on the general price list as an itemized expense for a traditional funeral.  If someone resists the fee, an easy explanation would be to tell them that all families that have a traditional casket funeral with viewing also pay the $250 for us to dress and prepare the deceased, that we treat all families the same.  If still resistant, you can always tell them that you can connect them with a funeral director who can better explain the reason for the expense.  It’s never worth arguing over, and many times the director will make a judgment call as to whether or not to charge, this is the director’s call.


Can other items be given to be placed with the body and cremated with them?  Yes.  Almost any item can be cremated with the body.  Batteries, glass or large items can’t be cremated with the deceased.  The most common items that get cremated are pictures, letters, favorite shirts or jackets, blankets, stuffed animals, etc.  None of these are recoverable after the cremation because the only thing left after the cremation are bone fragments.  If there is a question about an item to be cremated, its always best to ask a director.