The goal of the Legislative Committee is to provide information to our members and the general public regarding the legal status of families' rights to care for their loved ones after death

What You Can Do
  • Get educated
  • Track legislation
  • Meet with your state legislators
  • Be ready to act

Get Educated
  • Restoring Families' Right to Choose A position paper advocating for the rights of families to perform their own funerals legally without being compelled to hire a funeral home. It describes the concerns in the nine states where families have lost the right to independent, private control of their affairs when a loved one dies. Co-written by the National Home Funeral Alliance and the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
  • At a Glance” A one page description of “Restoring Families’ Right to Choose”
  • Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death by Lisa Carlson and Josh Slocum
  • Review other resources on the NHFA website

Track Legislation
Take a small amount of time every few weeks to track pending legislation. It will give you critical information and can be a topic for discussion with your legislator. Tracking Legislation Online

Meet With Your State Legislators
Roadmap for Contacting Your State Senators and Representatives

Why Meet with Your Legislators?
There are many ways to share your views on important policy matters with your elected officials. These officials are deluged with emails and on-line petitions that show a minimal commitment to the issue at hand and frankly can be easily disregarded. Phone calls and non-form letters help to personalize the issue.

In-person meetings show the greatest commitment by far. Face-to-face meetings with your elected officials and their staff are a powerful way to get to know them and communicate your views. Legislators like to see you, their constituent, shake your hand and hear what you have to say. You literally put a face to the issue when you meet them in person. It is a critical step in educating them about the issues that affect our lives.

It's fine to go alone but also consider inviting others to go with you. They can provide moral support, help with note taking and show that there are others who actively support the issue.

Before the First Phone Call

Here are a few tips for having an effective, personal meeting with your state

  1. Google the name of your own State Senator/Representative – here is a link to the National Conference of State Legislatures www.ncsl.org. This website will connect you to information about your legislator and what bills they are sponsoring.
  2. Check YouTube for possible information about them
  3. Know the names of the Committees and Boards that regulate funeral laws
  4. Find out the dates of your state's legislative session. Where are they in the cycle? Are there any bills pending on the subject of funerals, cremation etc.? See below.
The First Phone Call-Scheduling a Meeting
  1. Introduce yourself and mention the fact that you are a constituent.
  2. Request a face-to-face meeting with the legislator. Be prepared to offer home funeral/NHFA information to the staffer making the appointment time.
  3. Be willing to meet with the staffer if the legislator is not available. Staff people can often be very influential.
  4. Request a meeting at the district office as opposed to traveling to the state capitol. But be as flexible as possible.
  5. Ask for at least a half hour meeting.
  6. Be prepared to be persistent if the legislator is busy.
Organize Your Thoughts
  1. Be well prepared. You may only have a short time so be concise and clear.
  2. Personalize the issue – be ready to tell specific stories.
  3. Know what you are asking for.
  4. Bring hand-outs and show a short video clip if possible.
Suggested Hand-outs
  • “At a Glance” summary and printed copy of Restoring Families’ Rights
  • National Home Funeral Alliance, tri-fold educational brochure NHFA
  • A copy of your State Laws
  • Personal information – brochure, business card
  • The Surprising Satisfactions of a Home Funeral by Max Alexander, Smithsonian Magazine March 2009 | read
  • Inside a Home Funeral, The Daily Beast, February 5, 2013 | read
  • Home Funerals Grow As Americans Skip The Mortician For Do-It-Yourself After-Death Care, Huffington Post, February 21, 2013 |  read
The First Meeting
  1. The main purpose should be to create a rapport with your local legislators and bring them an awareness of issues surrounding home funerals.
  2. Arrive early to gather your thoughts and get organized.
  3. Remind the legislator that you are a constituent and a member of the NHFA.
  4. Be concise and clear about the issues.
  5. Take notes of their questions, misconceptions and concerns.
  6. Be clear that this meeting is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. You will be tracking legislation and may have follow-up questions.
  7. Ask if they have any suggestions of other legislators to talk to.
After the Meeting
  • Follow-up with a note thanking them for their time and interest.
  • Let our Legislative Committee know how it went so we know where your legislator stands on our issues.
Be Ready To Act

If you become aware of legislation that may affect families' rights:

  • Call a NHFA Legislative Committee Member – see contact info below
  • Send a letter to appropriate policymakers [Sample Letter]

Legislative Committee Members available for support

Electronic Death Registration System: How does your state rate?

Every state in this country has either a complete Electronic Death Registration System in place right now, is in the process of formulating one, or is contemplating creating one. In research recently done by the Legislative Committee we have found that, for the most part, only medical examiners, funeral directors, M.D.'s and other official entities are given access to this system. If families do not have access to the system or their access is so impossibly difficult to find, they are, in effect, denied their right to care for their deceased. Home vigils/wakes are still legal in every state but if a family wants to do their own paperwork and transport their loved one to a cemetery or crematory, and the system is set up to cut them out, they will be required to pay for the services of a funeral director. We can add those states, almost all, to the list of "restrictive" states.

We believe that the only reason why some states have included families is because a citizen (you/us) has contacted the state system and worked with them to create language that allows families to claim their rights.

Here is an initial list the Legislative Committee has found of EDRS policies in various states. We would love to add your state to the list. Please do some research, find out where your state stands and let us know. You can email the Chair, Peg Lorenz at peglor@comcast.net.

Best States - the site is user-friendly and accessible to an average person. The information for families is clearly stated and easy to follow.

Average States - the site is accessible to the average person. Families are clearly acknowledged. The information is written in more difficult language and is more difficult to follow.

Difficult States - the site does not include any information about families.

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