When choosing cremation as the final form of disposition, the individual(s) with the right to control may be asked to identify the deceased. This can be done through a physical inspection or via a photograph.
If identification proves to be too difficult a task for family members, a person can be appointed to do this for you. Be sure to inform the funeral director in writing of your intention including the name of this individual and their relationship to the deceased.
If you refuse to identify the body or appoint a representative you may be asked to sign a waiver.
Ways of Identification
Physical Identification. The body may be in a casket or container. It may not have been embalmed, dressed in normal attire or clean-shaven. If there was a post-mortem examination, the funeral director probably will warn you about visual manifestations of trauma or disfigurement.
Photo Identification. The funeral director may ask for your written permission to take a photo of the deceased to show you for identification purposes. Or, the funeral director may ask you to bring in a current photo of the deceased that can be kept at the funeral home. In either case, you may be asked to sign the back of the photo, attesting to the identification of the deceased.
Alternatives to Visual Identification. If the body is badly decomposed or mutilated the funeral director may show you photos of scars, tattoos or physical deformities for identification purposes. In some cases, dental records are used to identify the person. When there is advanced decomposition or a violent death the medical examiner or another agency often will establish the identity of the remains.
Following the identification, you or your representative may be asked to sign an identification form.