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Cremation Authorization Form: 3 Steps to Fill It Out

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After a loss, there are several time-sensitive tasks to complete. If your loved one chose cremation as their final disposition method, one of the most important is filling out a cremation authorization form.

A cremation authorization form is one of the legal matters you’ll have to address when planning final services. But a quick glance at the form might feel overwhelming.

Continue reading to learn more about cremation authorization and the step-by-step process for filling out the form to fulfill your loved one’s final wishes.

But First, What Is a Cremation Authorization Form?

A cremation authorization form is one of the most important documents needed for a cremation to take place. It is legal documentation approving the act of cremation that must be signed by a legally authorized individual.

The cremation authorization form serves a dual purpose:

  1. It allows families to detail exactly what they want and who is responsible when it comes to their loved one’s cremation.

  2. It provides the funeral home or crematory the legal authority to perform the cremation.

Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding cremation authorization—for example, Ohio’s revised code can be found in section 4717.24.

Step 1: Determine Who Is Authorized

Law-abiding funeral homes will provide you with a form that authorizes your loved one’s cremation. However, before signing any documents, you must determine who in your family is authorized.

Ohio law requires you to have proper verification proving you’re legally authorized to make this type of decision on behalf of your loved one. To determine if you’re authorized to arrange a cremation, follow this list of priority qualifications:

  • A legal representative appointed by the deceased to have the right of disposition (pursuant to the required elements).
  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse.
  • The sole surviving child of the deceased person, or if there is more than one surviving child, all of the surviving children collectively.
  • The deceased person’s surviving parent or parents.
  • The deceased person’s surviving sibling, whether of whole or half blood or if there is more than one sibling all of the surviving siblings collectively.
  • The deceased person’s surviving grandparent or grandparents.
  • The lineal descendants of the deceased’s grandparents.
  • The person who was the deceased person’s guardian at the time of death if a guardian had been appointed.
  • If the decendent is indigent, the public officer is responsible for arranging services.

If there is more than one authorized decision-maker, then all individuals can be required. Keep in mind, authorized individuals may be located in multiple states and will need to be contacted to sign the form. This can be done by providing photo identification and notarized signature either electronically or via postal mail.

It’s also important to know when a loved one passes away, a power of attorney (POA) is no longer in effect. That means the POA may not be qualified to authorize a cremation, but instead, all living family members in the checklist above must authorize a cremation.

>>> Related Resource: New Ohio Right of Disposition Guide, Effective September 11, 2022

Step 2: Gather Required Information

Once you’ve determined who in your family is authorized to arrange the cremation, the next step is to gather personal information about your loved one and their final wishes. For example:

  • Legal name, date, time and location of death, age, date of birth, and social security number.
  • The type of container you would like your loved one to be placed in following the cremation process (urn, standard shipping container, keepsake, or memorial).
  • The final disposition method (inurnment, return to designated authorizing agent, scattering, or other).

Having this information on hand before you meet with the chosen funeral home will help the process run smoothly.

Step 3: Meet with Your Funeral Director

There is a lot of information required for a cremation authorization form—we understand it may become overwhelming at times. However, meeting with your funeral director can ease the process of finalizing every detail.  

As we mentioned, law-abiding funeral homes will provide you with a form that authorizes your loved one’s cremation. Upon meeting with them, your funeral director is able to help fill out the following sections prior to submitting the form:

  • Identification
  • Artificial devices
  • Personal property
  • Recycling
  • Multiple cremations
  • Witnesses
  • Time
  • Agent
  • Final disposition
  • Certification and indemnification (*Note that you must have all authorized agents sign here if applicable.)

Once complete, the funeral home will enter all information in its system, print it and file the authorization form with the proper parties.

Free Checklist for Planning Final Arrangements

Have you been deemed authorized and aren’t sure what to do next? Our funeral planning checklist will provide you with the necessary steps and answer the most common questions we hear as you embark on planning final arrangements. Download for support as you plan your loved one’s cremation.

Download our funeral planning checklist

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


Robert Solich
Robert Solich
Thirty years of experience helping people on the hardest day of their lives, and one of Busch's longest-standing staff members. Bob provides valuable guidance to families with his expertise and compassion. He serves on two non-profit boards in the greater Cleveland area, promoting healthcare and the arts. Proudly serving Busch families since 1983.

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