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What to do when death occurs


Arranging a cremation is not something you do every day, so you’re bound to have lots of questions: How do we file the death certificate? Who do you notify? What are the legal requirements for cremation in Pennsylvania?

The Cremation Society of Berks County, Inc. can support you during this time of sorrow and responsibility by answering all your questions and taking you through each of the necessary steps.

Those steps have been outlined below for you. Once we’ve been notified of your loved one’s passing, you can arrange the cremation using our website. You won’t need to make any appointments or see a funeral director, and we’re always at the end of the phone if you have any questions.

How to arrange a direct cremation with the Cremation Society of Berks County


Call us at 844-527-8947 as soon as death is confirmed

When a death occurs, call the Cremation Society of Berks County, Inc. immediately. We’ll ask a few simple questions about who has died and where the death took place. We’ll also need the name of the next-of-kin and who made the pronouncement of death. We can then send our team to transfer your loved one, usually an hour or two after receiving your call.

Depending on the circumstance of death, you may have to call other officials as well:

Death in a healthcare facility

If your loved one dies in a hospital, hospice or nursing home, instruct the staff to call us directly. They’ll make sure the authorities are notified if necessary, and they’ll provide us with the doctor’s information so that we can bring your loved one into our care.

Anticipated death at home

If death is expected very soon, many people prefer to leave their health care facility and return home for hospice care. When death does take place, you must first call the hospice staff that was providing treatment. They will report the death officially, then contact us to collect your loved one.

Unexpected death

If death was not expected and did not occur in a healthcare facility, call 911 right away. The local police will arrive and then call the Coroner. If the death seems non-suspicious, the coroner must decide whether an autopsy is required. If it is, the coroner will take the body back to their offices in Berks County. If it isn’t, you can call us immediately and we will transfer the body.If the death seems suspicious, however, the coroner is obliged to carry out an autopsy. Once the autopsy is done, we'll transfer the body into our care. Pennsylvania law states that the coroner doesn’t need the family’s permission to carry out an autopsy, although their wishes will be considered as long as they don’t conflict with the coroner's legal duties.

Death occurs away from home

If death takes place in the USA but outside of Pennsylvania, call us at 844-527-8947. If you call a local funeral director where the death took place, you will end up paying for their services and ours, and that’s an unnecessary cost. If death takes place in another country, it is still a good idea to call us. We can offer guidance and, if your loved one has our Death Away From Home Plan, we’ll ensure the body is transported back to Pennsylvania at no extra cost.

Arrange and pay for the cremation using our online service


Your next step is to arrange the cremation. Our online service makes this very easy. Just select our simple, affordable cremation package, we'll collect your contact information and credit card details (we accept all major credit cards), and we'll assist you throughout the cremation arrangements and process.

Fill out, sign and return the authorization forms

This Vital Statistics Form lets us file for the death certificate, and the Pennsylvania Cremation Permit gives us permission to carry out the cremation. Just download the forms from our website, fill them out, sign them and return them to us.

Pennsylvania law states that cremation cannot take place until a coroner's authorization. We usually carry out a cremation within 3-4 days of receiving an order placed online.

Inform friends, relatives and organizations

One of the hardest things you’ll have to do is inform family, friends and others. It may be a good idea to ask a handful of people to spread the news among your wider circle for you.

You’ll also need to contact some organizations very quickly. The main ones to call in the immediate days after death are:

One of the best ways to notify people of a death is by placing an obituary in local newspapers. You may want to read these tips for writing an obituary. We can supply you with a list of local newspapers that publish obituaries. We publish electronic obituaries on our site as a courtesy.

Receive delivery of the ashes

Once the cremation has been carried out, we’ll put the ashes in the urn that you selected for release to the party specified on the Cremation Permit. Alternatively, you can request that we deliver them to you within our service area using a trusted courier. For your security, we always will request a photo ID upon delivery. We can also ship the ashes to another address outside our service area and within continental USA for an additional charge.

If you have any questions about what to do when a death occurs in your family, please call us at 844-527-8947. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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