Where to Find Local Burial Law Information
When you choose burial through a funeral home or cemetery, most of the legal questions are already answered for you. Your funeral director can tell you what is allowed and what is illegal for your specific county/state, and will even file most of the required paperwork for you.
However, if you are opting to hold a private or home burial, you might be wondering what is and isn’t allowed for your specific region. For example, in states like Iowa and New York, you have to hire a licensed funeral director even if you are holding a home burial. In Alaska and New Jersey, you cannot move a body across state lines without having it embalmed first.
There are countless resources that can help direct you toward the answers you need for your region. Here’s a list to help you get started planning a funeral that meets all your personal—and local—needs.
- County Health Department: One of the best resources for anyone with questions is to contact your local county health department. They will have the most relevant information for your county, including what steps are necessary to get the proper permits and licenses for burial.
- State Vital Records Office: Death certificates typically have to be submitted and accessed through your state’s vital records office. They may also have information on burial regulations in your area.
- Funeral Ethics: This nonprofit organization provides a state-by-state breakdown of what you can expect regarding funeral rules and regulations. You will find information on burial, cremation, death benefits, funeral arrangements, and even where to lodge complaints about funeral home practices.
- Federal Trade Commission: The FTC Funeral Rule provides you with the right to refuse burial services that are not required by law. Their online site offers information on general burial information, and you can contact them directly for more personalized results.
- Funeral Consumer Alliance: This online resource includes an interactive map that you can use to locate the offices of this nonprofit organization protecting consumer rights.
- National Funeral Directors Association: This site is technically designed for use by funeral providers, but you can find your state’s local chapter and ask them to direct you toward the necessary services.
- National Home Funeral Alliance: If you are specifically interested in a home funeral, this resource helps identify which states put up barriers—and what those barriers are.
- NOLO: This popular legal resource contains lots of information on burial and cremation laws by state. Not every state is included, however, so you may need to keep searching if you don’t find what you need here.
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By Amy Johnson