Frequently Asked Questions
How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected the direct cremation process?
Changes to paperwork
A cremation 5 form is no longer needed to arrange a cremation. This means that the funeral director will need to only obtain a Form 4 form the doctors of the loved one. Both the form 4 and 5 were 82 pounds each in England and Wales, leading to a total of 164 pounds. However, this is now reduced to just 82 pounds for the cremation 4 form.
The majority of cremation paperwork and forms are now sent and signed digitally, rather than by post. This means that processing the paperwork for cremation is actually faster and more efficient.
Registering the death
Your registry office will arrange for the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (MCCD) to be sent to you or the registrars without you needing to attend their premises in person.
For the registration appointment, this is also no longer done in person. Instead, you will normally just need to arrange a telephone appointment.
This paperwork will need to be shared with your Funeral Director as part of the arrangement process. They will guide you through when and how you need to share it with them.
How are we keeping safe during the covid 19 pandemic?
To help keep you safe, our team will continue wearing face masks and will maintain social distancing. We will recommend clients also wear masks for face-to-face meetings such as delivering the ashes.
A death in the family occurred in England and Wales - what steps do I need to take?
First, you will need to obtain what is known as the medical certificate of cause of death (also known as the “MCCD”). This is issued for free either by your GP if the death occurred at home, or by the resident doctor if the death occurred in a hospital or hospice.
At this point and with this medical certificate, you can arrange for the body of your loved one to be collected by pressing the ‘Arrange Now’ button.
Within five days, you will need to register the death at the register office where the death occurred. The register office will issue you with (1) the Death Certificate and with (2) a Certificate for Cremation (the ‘Green Certificate’). The death registration is free of charge, but you may need to pay for the death certificate. Liaise with the registrar’s office to see how much this amount will be.
You will also need to obtain Form 4 and Form 5 signed by two separate doctors. The GP or the resident doctor can help you obtain them. Each form costs £82 and are mandatory for a cremation. You will also need to complete a Form 1, we normally assist you with this.
Note: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Form 5 is no longer necessary. This means that the funeral director will need to only obtain a Form 4.
For a more in-depth review of what steps need to be taken after a death occurs, including checking eligibility for financial assistance, organising financial and tax affairs, and taking care of the estate, please refer to the comprehensive Naturaldeath.org guide.
A death in the family occurred in Scotland - what steps do I need to take?
First, you will need to obtain medical certificate of the cause of death. This is issued for free either by your GP if the death occurred at home, or by the resident doctor if the death occurred in a hospital or hospice.
At this point and with this medical certificate, you can arrange for the body of your loved one to be collected by pressing the ‘Arrange Now’ button.
Within eight days, you will need to register the death at the registration office. You may choose where to register the death. The registration office will then issue you with a Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14). Please send this to the funeral director, they will need the Form 14 to arrange the cremation.
You will also need to complete an Application for Cremation (Form A). The funeral director can do this on your behalf if needed.
For a more in-depth review of what steps need to be taken after a death occurs you can read our article, ‘We have Launched Neo in Scotland’.
What is the difference between a direct cremation and a traditional funeral?
A direct cremation is a cremation that takes place without a memorial ceremony. In a direct cremation, the body is collected, the cremation is performed unattended, and the ashes are returned together with a Certificate of Cremation issued by the crematorium where the cremation took place.
In a direct cremation, there is no longer the need to combine the cremation and the remembrance ceremony. Instead, the cremation is performed independently, unattended, and when the ashes are returned, you are then free to organise a separate memorial ceremony in your time, as you see fit.
Because a direct cremation is unattended and simple to organise, it is much cheaper than a conventional funeral, which is a much more complex and costly affair. A traditional funeral in England costs on average in excess of £4,000 plus the cost of the ceremony. A traditional funeral also needs to take place shortly after the death, so there is a time sensitivity element with traditional funerals.
Why are direct cremations becoming increasingly more popular?
Direct cremations are becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom for the following reasons:
- For financial reasons – a direct cremation costs a fraction of the cost of a conventional funeral.
- Because of personal preferences – fewer people, especially among younger generations, want the typical mournful service and somber funeral procession.
- Because of the flexibility it brings – not combining the cremation and the remembrance ceremony gives you more flexibility to organise a separate sending-off, as you see fit, when you feel you are ready.
- For practical reasons – a direct cremation minimises what many consider to be superfluous ceremonial displays without sacrificing the respectful and dignified significance of the sending-off.
How To Organise A Direct Cremation
Where are your services available?
Our services are available throughout most of England, Wales and Mainland Scotland. Use the ‘Arrange Now’ button on our website to book a time for us to take your loved one into our care.
Our service is all-inclusive, meaning you will not need to worry about additional charges for taking your loved one into our care–regardless if they passed away at home, at hospital, hospice, nursing home, or care home.
Is it possible to visit and view the body of our loved one?
Once the deceased is within our care, it is not possible to visit and view your loved one. One of the factors making direct cremations more affordable than conventional funerals is that, unlike traditional funerals, direct cremations are unattended.
However, we understand that families want to see their loved one, one final time. We are able to accomodate viewings for you at our partner’s chapel of rest. Please keep in mind that this will incur an additional cost as it is not normally included in our at-need direct cremation service.
How can I ensure the ashes that are returned are authentic?
We deliver our urn to the crematorium prior to the cremation taking place. The crematorium itself fills the urn once the cremation is finished. Crematoria in England are by law following a prescribed process to guarantee that it is not possible to mix the ashes from different individuals.
Every step of the process in the chain of custody of the deceased is documented and needs to pass an ‘identification checkpoint’. This includes the collection of the deceased, the transport to the crematorium, the placement in the cremator, the removal from the cremator, the processing at the cremulator, the placement of the ashes in the urn and finally the return of the urn.
The crematorium will hand us the urn back together with a Certificate of Cremation certifying where the cremation took place and certifying the authenticity of the ashes. Once the urn has been filled and closed by the crematorium, it will be sealed until it is delivered back to you.
How long does it typically take for the ashes to be returned to me?
Depending on the waiting time at the crematoria in your area, our goal is to have the ashes returned to you within three weeks from the day we take your loved one into our care. We will remain in contact with you throughout the process to inform you of the date of the cremation and to schedule a time for the return of the urn containing the ashes.
If you have any questions regarding your loved one’s journey, please refer to our guide which outlines in more detail what the process and due diligence is once we take your loved one into our care.
What if I do not want to receive the ashes back?
Should you wish to not receive the ashes back, they will be scattered in the crematorium’s garden of remembrance, as is often done with traditional cremations when a ceremony is held and the family is present.
The Cremation Process
What is cremation?
Cremation is the mechanical, thermal, or other dissolution process that reduces human remains to bone fragments. Cremation also includes processing and pulverization of the bone fragments into very fine pieces.
What are the steps in the cremation process?
- The deceased is placed in a coffin or covered in a shroud. The minimum requirement for a cremation container is that it be completely enclosed, leak resistant, and combustible. The coffin can be made of cardboard or particle board or wood, provided it is combustible and non-toxic. Metal caskets cannot be cremated.
- Crematorium staff will confirm the identity of the deceased by checking all paperwork. A cremation number or other identification will be assigned. This number/id is often stamped onto a ceramic disc, but may also be in the form of a barcode. The id/number is recorded on a cremation log. The ceramic disc remains with the remains throughout their entire time at the cremation facility.
- When it is time for the cremation, the deceased will be removed from the storage unit and their identification will be confirmed using paperwork and the ceramic disc. The coffin will be taken to the cremator unit and placed on a table in front of the cremator door.
- The door of the cremator will be opened, and the container will be placed inside the primary chamber. Usually this is performed manually with the aid of cardboard rollers or mechanically with a rolling conveyor loader. The ceramic disc with number/id will be placed inside the cremator on the coffin.
- The door will be closed and the cremation monitored carefully until it is completed. The process can take up to two hours depending on the body size and stored heat in the chamber.
- When the cremation process is complete, the door will be opened and the identification checked again against paperwork and the ceramic disc. The bone fragments that remain, now called cremated remains, will be carefully swept out of the cremator into a cooling tray, and taken to a cremulator .
- The cremulator is a machine that uses blades to pulverize the bone fragments until the remains are less than 1/8” in size.
- The cremated remains are then transferred to an urn. Identification is checked again and the ceramic disc is placed in the urn with the remains. The urn and its box are labeled with identifying paperwork and checked again before being stored for the family’s retrieval.
What are the technical details of a cremation?
The process of cremation is essentially the conversion of a solid to a gas. This is accomplished by heating the body, which contains between 65% and 85% water by weight, to a temperature high enough to facilitate the combustion process. The cremation process usually occurs between 800 and 900 degrees C.
What can be cremated?
Sometimes families request that items of significance be cremated with the deceased. In some cases this can be allowed, but in many cases it cannot. This is for safety reasons, as not everything is combustible and may cause damage to the equipment or the operator if left in the container. We will advise you on what can or cannot be included for the cremation.
However, if you have any questions please let a Care Team member know and they will do their best to help you.
Why Neo Cremations Provides A Better Experience
How is Neo Cremations different from other direct cremation services?
Neo Cremation’s vision is to provide the opportunity to celebrate the departure of a loved one with an affordably-priced and respectful end-of-life service with an uncompromising commitment to quality.
Our aim is to offer a digital-first service offering that better aligns with a growing appetite for a contemporary, eco-friendly solution. Ours is the first offer in the country to focus on green cremations and making sure our environmental impact is mitigated by carbon offsetting schemes.
Unlike other direct cremation service providers, we do not have a complicated pricing structure with hidden fees and extra costs. Our fixed £1,295 price is all-inclusive, transparent, and a good value.
Who is paying for the carbon offset scheme via tree planting - will this cost me more money?
Neo Cremations has pledged a portion of its revenues to tree planting charities. Our aim is to offset a minimum of 200% of our cremation footprint by planting at least 1 million trees by 2025. This is done at no additional cost to you and is our way of thanking you for choosing a green cremation that has a positive impact on the environment.
Is the deceased given less care in order to save money?
A direct cremation does not mean substandard care. On the contrary, at Neo Cremations, our commitment is to deliver uncompromising quality with the highest standards of professionalism, care and compassion.
The main factor contributing to a direct cremation’s lower cost is that, as opposed to a conventional funeral, direct cremations are unattended, meaning that a ceremony is not held during the cremation.
Traditional funerals are often mournful, somber events that are generally elaborate and expensive. A direct cremation, on the other hand, is a simple and affordable alternative that provides the flexibility to organise a separate sending-off at a later stage, as you see fit, when you feel you are ready.
Who is behind Neo Cremations?
Eric and Benjamin founded Neo Cremations with the firm belief that it is time for business owners to take seriously the unsustainable path we have set for the planet.
A consumerist mindset and the pursuit of economic growth at all costs cannot be extended indefinitely whilst our resources are finite. Neo Cremations is here to disrupt business as usual in favor of a simple end-of-life service that is environmentally friendlier.
We wanted to offer grieving families in the United Kingdom the opportunity to provide a dignified sending-off at a fraction of the cost of a conventional funeral, while placing our commitment to reducing our environmental impact at the forefront of our work.
What is a funeral plan?
A pre-paid funeral plan is a way to pay in advance for the services involved in having a funeral. In our case, the Neo Cremations Funeral Plans allows you to buy a Neo Cremations unattended cremation in advance. It gives you peace of mind, knowing the costs of the funeral and your personal wishes are guaranteed
How will my family know about my funeral plan?
It’s a good idea to talk to your family about your funeral wishes. You can leave instructions in your will, but we’ll provide information that makes it easy to talk about your Neo Cremations Funeral plan
Can I change my mind, after I've bought a plan?
Yes. You can cancel a plan free of charge within 30 days and we’ll refund everything you’ve paid to date. After that time, we will apply an administration charge of £295, which we can deduct from any monies paid in to date
What is the relationship between Neo Cremations and Safe Hands Plans?
Safe Hands is the provider of the funeral plan on behalf of Neo Cremations. That means that whilst Neo Cremations will perform your direct cremation, Safe Hands will administer the funeral plan, i.e. make sure the money is secured in a trust, oversee the investment managers that will invest the money in the trust, and guarantee that the auditing and actuarial valuation of the trust is done properly. Safe Hands is one of the UK’s leading providers of funeral plans, serving families since 2012. Safe Hands is registered with the Funeral Planning Authority, giving you peace of mind that your money is secure and safe
Who looks after the money for my plan?
Your money goes into a trust. This trust is managed by Sterling Trust Corporation Limited, an independent trustee who works with investment fund managers TJM Partnership and Interactive Advisers, who offer bespoke trading and investment management services to high net worth clients, companies and intermediaries and whose service is facilitated by a strategic partnership with Jarvis Investment Management and Britannia Global Markets Limited to make sure your money is well looked after and kept safe
What does the Neo Cremations Funeral Plan include?
Our plan covers every penny of the Neo Cremations unattended cremation:
- Admin support
- Collection of the deceased and taking into our care
- Solid FSC-certified pine wood coffin
- A biodegradable urn
- Hand delivery of the ashes if you so wish
- A remembrance tree with a tree certificate
- Carbon offsetting
Keep in mind there’s no service involved in direct cremation and that the doctor’s certificate to be paid directly to the doctor is not included
What does the ‘handling charge’ pay for?
The trust is managed carefully to ensure your plan can pay for your funeral – hopefully, many years from now. That money has to be managed carefully. We can absorb the cost of making instalments over a period of up to 24 months, but if there are as many as 120 transactions to process, we will then apply a 4% handling charge to cover the costs involved
What would happen if Neo Cremations or Safe Hands went out of business?
The trust is independent, so there’s nothing to worry about. In the highly unlikely event that something happened to our companies, your money would still be safe and the trustees will ensure that your Funeral Plan is delivered
Who looks after the Neo Cremations Funeral Plan?
- The Neo Cremations Funeral Plan is administered and sold by Safe Hands Plans Ltd.
- The Safe Hands Trust Plan was set up in conjunction with Wrigley’s LLP.
- The money in the Safe Hands Plan Trust is held by Sterling Trust Corporation Ltd – specialist and independent trustees. They work in partnership with independent investment managers to make sure your money is soundly invested and secure.
- Zenith Actuaries are appointed as actuaries to the Trust Fund, who provide a report on an annual basis.
- The Trust Fund is audited annually by JW Hinks and trust accounts prepared
What happens if I die before I have paid all the instalments?
If you die before making your last payment, then we’ll ask your family or estate to settle the balance before we can arrange your direct cremation
Can I transfer my plan to someone else?
Yes. Have a look through the details on our payments page. You’ll see there’s no fee for cancelling within 30 days of taking the plan out, but we do charge an administration fee after that time. We don’t give refunds for plans that are cancelled after your death. All refunds are given at our sole discretion
How is Neo a sustainable direct cremation service?
Our carbon offsetting is done through supporting local biodiversity reforestation. At the current moment, we are assisting in planting trees in the Scottish Highlands to reforest the great and ancient Caledonian Forest.
We understand that we have a long way to go. While it is true that cremation emits carbon, a big segmentation of our carbon footprint is because of transportation. This is why we calculate the mileage for every cremation that we carry out and reduce transportation where possible. We also offset every cremation carried out by at least 200%.
Isn’t carbon offsetting just a buzz phrase?
There is no doubt that climate change has been at the forefront of current affairs. It is a scary reality that many across the globe are finally starting to digest. Carbon offsetting might be considered a buzz phrase given it’s acceptance into the corporate world.
The standard definition of carbon offsetting is the removal of carbon dioxide emissions or other GHG (greenhouse gases) made to compensate for emissions made elsewhere in the world.
Why does Neo take part in tree planting?
Neo participates in local tree planting for a few important reasons:
- Trees offset carbon dioxide. One tree offsets 1 tonne of CO2 throughout its entire lifetime.
- Supporting local biodiversity is an important element to combat climate change.
- Planting a tree or a “remembrance tree” is a regenerative act of life and hope for the future that can be a comfort to grieving families.
How do you select the most sustainable crematoria in the UK?
The crematoria we use all get vetted to ensure they are high calibre. This means we check their facilities, learn about the furnaces, and ensure they are in the top percentage of the UK. We do this by completing extensive due diligence reports with interviews, photos, and evaluations on the crematoria we visit.
Our aim for due diligence reporting is to not shun or block out crematoria but rather work with them to improve their sustainability and bring that aspect into the mainstream across UK crematoria.
What sustainability qualifications does Neo have?
We have recently received our B Corp certification in November 2021, which means that we have voluntarily vowed to hold ourselves accountable to the highest environmental and social standards. Read more about our B Corp qualification.
We also partner with organisations such as 1% for the Planet. A part of being partners with 1% means that we donate 1% of our company revenue to environmental non-profits across the world. Check out our 1% for the Planet profile.
Finally, we are a part of the United Nations’ Climate Neutral Now initiative. Which is a voluntary program promoting non-state actors to measure, reduce, and offset their carbon emissions. Every year, organisations submit their reports and are given feedback and awards for their effort.
What makes Neo’s carbon offsetting scheme legitimate?
After each cremation we carry out, we carbon offset all emissions via tree planting in the Scottish Highlands. The organisation we have elected to do this is certified by the Woodland Carbon Code, the gold standard for woodland carbon sequestration.
Not only that, we have set reduction targets and have launched a micro-strategy to reduce our carbon footprint and not rely solely on carbon offsetting. More on this will follow in our 2021 Impact Report.
Where can I find more information about Neo’s impact?
You can read more about our values (Human Rights & Progression & Climate Change Responsibility) and how we try our best to uphold those values in our 2020 Impact Report.
When do you need our service?
A loved one has passed
I’m planning ahead
Let us guide you