Quick Guide

Quick Guide to Legal Requirements for Home Funerals in Your State

tree of peopleKeeping or bringing a loved one home after death is legal in every state for bathing, dressing, private viewing, and ceremony as the family chooses. Every state recognizes the next-of-kin’s custody and control of the body that allows the opportunity to hold a home vigil. Religious observations, family gatherings, memorials, and private events are not under the jurisdiction of the State or professionals in the funeral industry, who have no medico-legal authority unless it is transferred to them when they are paid for service.

Find the details of your state in this chart.

This guide is intended to let home funeral families know what legal requirements are on the books in each state—either statutes that are applicable to all or regulations that fall under the state Mortuary Board’s set of procedures applicable for licensed funeral directors only.

Both the National Home Funeral Alliance and the Funeral Consumers Alliance support families wishing to care for their own after death. We offer this Quick Guide as a glimpse into each state’s particular legal culture. We also agree that while it is critical to know what requirements there are, it is equally important to weigh them against practical realities.

Keep this in mind: there are no funeral police. And there are exceptions to every rule, many of which happen when someone dies in the middle of an ice storm or a weekend or a holiday or a multitude of other unpredictable circumstances. Even under perfect conditions or professional care, many of these requirements are not logistically or practically enforceable.

The reason we want you to have easy access to your state’s rules and regs is simple. We want you to have the information at your fingertips should you ever be asked to explain them. We want you to be empowered by what you can do, not what someone who doesn’t know any better might believe. Knowing the law allows you to move forward with confidence.

No one knows better than the family what’s truly necessary or needed when caring for their own after death. When in doubt, call us for additional information, but know that you already have the most important piece of this puzzle: your own best judgment.

Find the details of your state in this chart.