Body Disposition and Final Services

Funeral Decisions

Making arrangements to facilitate grief and closure after a person passes away requires some consideration.  Sometimes the deceased person leaves a letter of instructions regarding their funeral wishes and sometimes they leave no guidance. Under Utah Code 58-9-601, a person may provide written directions, acknowledged before a Notary Public or executed with the same formalities required of a will.  The family and the funeral director must comply with the form.

Where no letter was left by the deceased person, or if their instructions are not valid for any of the reasons listed above, there is an order of priority starting with a person designated by the deceased, then the surviving spouse, then the personal representative, and on and on.  Utah Code Annotated §58-9-602.  If it is necessary to appoint a personal representative or special administrator to make arrangements.  It is recommended to Discuss issues with an attorney.

The Personal Representative must decide regarding viewings or wakes, church services, committal services or vehicle processions, graveside services, and post-service receptions.  Cremation can involve versions of these same steps, substituting the scattering of ashes.  Decisions and planning require coordination of the family's wishes for the final services with the funeral home or crematorium.

Burial Delays

In most cases, funeral homes will work with the spouse of children of the deceased person.  However, where there are disagreements, it may become necessary to appoint document the agreement of the survivors, or even necessary to appoint an executor to make decisions.  Consult with an attorney if you face problems with burying a deceased person.

Burial Costs - Embalming

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of an adult funeral with burial is close to $7000. In 1980, the average cost per adult was $1809. That is a 262% increase in a 29 year period. 

Where cost savings are desired or environmental concerns are present, some individuals desire cremation or rapid burial without embalming.  However, no human body may be held in any place or be in transit more than 24 hours after death and pending final disposition, unless embalmed or maintained at a temperature of not more than 40 degrees F.  See Utah Administrative Code R 436-8-3. This means that if you don’t want to go through embalming, you must bury the body more quickly.

Costs and Concerns

Cremation Problems


Cremation can cause extra scrutiny because of its finality - it irrevocably and irreversibly destroys the body of the decedent.  Executors and crematoriums regularly require documentation of agreement between the survivors, or they may require appointment of a personal representative.  If you are prevented from performing cremation, contact an attorney.

Cremation and Spreading Ashes

The average cost of a cremation in the U.S. according to the National Cremation Research Council is about $1500.  $1110.05.  Following cremation, in Utah, you can dispose of ashes in a cemetery scattering garden or any inhabited public land, sea, or waterway, so long as it does not violate health and environmental laws and regulations governing that land. See Utah Code 58-9-611. You can dispose of ashes on any private land, so long as you have obtained the consent of the owner. If disposing on private land, written consent of the land's owner must be obtained by those receiving the remains and presented to the funeral services establishment. However, You cannot scatter remains that are not reduced to a particle size of 1/8 of an inch or less and 

completely removed from their container.  Also, a funeral home cannot release cremated remains until the recipient can show a receipt that a filing has been made with the local register of deaths.

Body Donation

Many people wish to put their body to good use following their death; often by donating their body to science.