Missing In America Project
"It's The Right Thing To Do!"
State Laws Concerning
Unclaimed Cremated Remains

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  The information below is copyrighted and used with the permission of the National Funeral Directors Association

 

 

                        STATE LAWS PERMITTING

       DISPOSITION OF UNCLAIMED CREMATED REMAINS

 

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

 


 

Alabama

34-13-122(c)

Dignified and humane manner in accordance with laws on the disposition of cremated remains

60 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition

Alaska

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Arizona

32-1399.7

In any legal manner

30 days after cremation and 90 days after notice (see next section)

Written notice to authorizing agent at last known address

Arkansas

Rule IV.4.E.2 of State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors

In any lawful manner

60 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition

California (1)

Health and Safety Code 7104(a)

Interment

Not addressed

Unclaimed cremated remains may be delivered to the coroner of the county where the decedent resided.

Colorado

12-54-108(5)

Not addressed

365 days after cremation

For any cremation that occurred after July 1, 2003, the funeral director must have given clear prior notice of the right to dispose of unclaimed cremated remains.  If cremation occurred prior to July 1, 2003, this notice was not required.  A record of the exact location of disposition must be made.

 

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

 

Connecticut

20-230d

Burial in a cemetery, internment in a crypt, mausoleum or columbarium, scattering, burial in a memorial garden, or storage in a funeral home.

180 days after cremation  and 90 days after notice (see next section)

Written notice sent by certified mail to the person who authorized the cremation.  After disposition, the funeral director must notify the Registrar of Vital Records and tell when the death occurred and how the cremated remains were disposed.  Such written notice shall be attached to the cremation permit.

Delaware

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Florida

497.607(2) and Regulation

69K-31.001

Scattering at sea or at a scattering garden or pond in a licensed cemetery, in a church columbarium, in a cemetery lot, niche or mausoleum, or placement in a county, municipal, fraternal, non-profit, church or Veteran’s cemetery

120 days after cremation

Make a record of the disposition and retain for 2 years

Georgia

31-21-4(6)

Turned over to coroner to be interred in a plot or niche in a cemetery for indigents

60 days after notice (see next section)

Written notice to be sent by first class mail to individual who authorized the cremation

Hawaii

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Idaho (2)

54-1744 (veteran’s only)

Division of Veterans Affairs may take control if it certifies that the decedent is eligible for interment at the state Veterans cemetery as an Armed Forces member.

1 year after death or next of kin exercised any control over remains.

An Idaho chapter of a nationally chartered veterans service organization may take control if it agrees to assume the cost of interment.

  

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

 

Illinois

225 ILCS 41/10-45

Discretion of funeral director

One year after date of death

None

Indiana

23-14-31-45(b)

Any lawful manner

60 days after cremation

Funeral home must observe religious practices or preferences previously specified by the authorizing agent.

Iowa

Rule 645-100.10(6)(c)

Grave, crypt of niche or designated scattering area

60 days after cremation

Make permanent record of a disposition and amend death certificate to show place of final disposition

Kansas

65-1732

Burial by placing the remains in a church or cemetery plot, scatter garden, pond, or columbarium.  Disposition may include the commingling of the cremated remains with other cremated remains.

90 days after cremation and 30 days after notice (see next section).

Written notice to the authorizing agent by certified mail, return receipt requested, informing the agent that the remains will be disposed of unless claimed prior to the end of the 90 day time period.

Kentucky

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Louisiana

37:880(B)

Any manner permitted by law

60 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition.

Maine

32-1405-A

Not specified

4 years after cremation and 60 days after written notice (see next section)

Written notice to authorizing agent by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Maryland

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Massachusetts

Regulation 239 CMR 3.11(4)

Deposited in a niche or crypt, buried or disposed of in any manner not prohibited by law.

180 days after cremation and then 60 days after notice (see next section)

Written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested to the authorizing agent.  Funeral home must maintain a permanent record of the site of the disposition.

 

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

 

Michigan

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Minnesota

149A.95(19)

Any lawful manner of disposition.

30 days after inurement and 120 days after notice (see next section).

Written notice sent 30 days after inurnment by certified mail to authorizing agent requesting disposition directions.  If no response in 120 days after mailing, disposition may be carried out

Mississippi

73-11-69(6)

Scattering or burial

6 months after cremation

Written notice of next of kin by certified mail.

Missouri

194.350(3)

Disposition may be by scattering or interring the unclaimed cremated remains in a scatter garden or pond, columbarium or other place formally dedicated for the burial for dead human bodies.

90 days after notice (see next section)

A written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the authorizing agent stating the remains will be scattered or interred unless the person claims or removes the remains prior to the end of a 90 day period.  If the mailed notice cannot be delivered, at least 30 days prior to the scattering or internment, the funeral home shall publish a notice once in a newspaper in general circulation in a county which the funeral home is located stating the remains will be scattered or interred unless claimed within such 30 day period.

 

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

 

Montana (3)

37-19-706(2)

Any manner permitted by law

90 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition

Nebraska

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Nevada

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

New Hampshire

325-A:27

Not specified

60 days after cremation

Prior to disposition, funeral home must make reasonable attempt to contact authorizing agent.

New Jersey

26:7-18.2

Not specified

1 year after cremation

Prior to disposition, a diligent effort must be made to identify, locate and notify a relative or friend of the deceased within the 1 year period after cremation.  A diligent effort shall include a certified letter, return receipt requested, mailed to the person who authorized the cremation.  The Commissioner of the Department of Health must certify that a due diligent effort has been made.

New Mexico

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

New York

Public Health 4200.4

Placement in a tomb, mausoleum, crypt, niche in a columbarium, burial in a cemetery, or scattering at sea.

120 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition.

 

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

North Carolina

90-210.130(b) and (c)

In a crypt, niche, grave, or scattering garden located in a dedicated cemetery, by scattering over uninhabited public land, the sea, or other public waterway, or disposed of in any manner on the private property of a consenting owner who proves written permission.

30 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition.

North Dakota

25-05-01-12

Earth burial in an established cemetery in an appropriate vault holding one or more set of remains

12 months after cremation and 30 days from sending of written notice (see next section)

Notice by registered mail, return receipt requested, to last know address of person who authorized the cremation

Ohio

4717.27(C)(2)

Grave, crypt or niche

60 days after cremation

None

Oklahoma

Title 59,§396.29(F)

In a dignified and humane manner in accordance with laws on the disposition of cremated remains

60 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition

Oregon

97.150

Any manner that is legally practicable

180 days after cremation and 30 days after notice (see next section)

Following 180 days after cremation, the funeral home may send written notice to the person who has the right of disposition informing the recipient that the cremated remains will be disposed of in 30 days unless instructions are given.  The notice must be personally delivered or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address of the person in the funeral home’s record.

  

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

Pennsylvania

Chapter 385, § 20-230d

Burial in a cemetery, storage in a crypt, mausoleum or columbarium, scattering, burial in a memorial garden, or storage in a funeral home.

180 days after cremation and 90 days after written notice (see next section)

Written notice sent by certified mail 180 days after cremation to authorizing agent informing them that the cremated remains will be disposed of in 90 days from date of notice.  For remains in possession of funeral home prior to July 1, 2005, the waiting period is 180 days.  Upon disposition, the funeral director must notify the Registrar of Vital Records who issued the cremation permit.

Rhode Island

5-33.2-13.2(7)

Not addressed

6 months after cremation

All reasonable attempts must be made to contact the person who authorized the cremation.

South Carolina

32-8-325(A)(2)(i) and 32-8-345

In a grave, crypt, niche by scattering them in a scattering area or on private property with permission of property owner.

60 days after cremated remains are returned from crematory

Make a permanent record of the disposition

South Dakota

34-26A-23

Any manner authorized by law

30 days after cremation

Make a permanent record of the disposition

Tennessee

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Texas

Health & Safety Code 711.006 (c) and (d)

Permanent interment in cemetery plot.

90 days after cremation and 60 days after notice (see next section)

Written notice sent 90 days after cremation informing authorizing agent that disposition will take place in 60 days unless cremated remains are claimed

  

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

Utah

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Vermont

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

Virginia

54.1-2808.1

By interment, entombment, inurnment or by scattering by sea, by air or in a scattering area.

90 days after cremation

Make a permanent record which identifies the method and site of disposition.

Washington

98-80-070(2)

Any manner authorized by law

90 days after cremation and 60 days after notice (see next section)

Written notice to the authorizing agent must be sent by registered mail informing the agent that disposition will take place unless instructions are received within 60 days from the date of the notice.  The agent should be informed that recovery of the cremated human remains after the disposition may or may not be possible.  A permanent record of the disposition must be made.

  

STATE

STATE LAW PERMITTING DISPOSITION

 

 

WHERE DISPOSITION OF CREMATED REMAINS IS ALLOWED

 

 

WAITING PERIOD FROM DATE OF CREMATION

OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF DISPOSITION

 

West Virginia

Board Procedures (30-6-21(e)(6) of the West Virginia Code authorizes the Board to establish procedures.)

By burial or entombment.  Unclaimed cremated remains may also be placed in a common grave, but only if the authorizing agent at time cremation was arranged was notified of that possibility and that they could not be recovered.

180 days after cremation and following the issuance of 2 notifications (see next section).

60 days after the cremation, notification sent by certified mail to the authorizing agent must inform them that the remains are unclaimed.  30 days after the first notification, if the remains are still unclaimed, a second notification by certified mail must be sent informing the authorizing agent that disposition will take place within 90 days if the remains are still unclaimed.  90 days after the second notification the cremated remains may be disposed of.

Wisconsin

440.80(b)

Placed in a grave, niche, or crypt or disposed of by scattering

60 days after cremated remains are returned to the funeral home

Make a written record of the disposition,

Wyoming

None

N/A

N/A

N/A

FOOTNOTES TO DISPOSITION OF UNCLAIMED CREMATED REMAINS CHART

 

 1.        California.  This State does not actually have a statute addressing unclaimed cremated remains.   However, the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau advises that unclaimed cremated remains may be turned over to the county coroner for interment if no person with a right of disposition can be located.

 2.        Idaho.  The Idaho statute only covers unclaimed cremated remains of veterans

 3.         Montana.  Section 10-2-211(1) permits a funeral home to release human remains or unclaimed cremated remains of a veteran to a veterans service organization for the purpose of interment as long as the remains have been in possession of the funeral home for at least 20 years and the funeral home has given notice by mail to the next of kin of the veteran using the last available address.  If no address is known or can reasonably be ascertained, notice must be given by publication once each week for 3 successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of the veteran’s residence.  If the veteran’s residence was unknown, the notice must be published in the county which the veteran died or, if that is unknown, the county in which the funeral home is located.

            The notice must include a statement to the effect that the remains of the veteran need to be claimed by the veteran’s next of kin within 30 days after the date of mailing of the notice or within 4 months of the date of the first publication of the notice.  If the remains are not claimed, the notice should indicate that the remains will be given to a veterans service organization for interment. 

            The veterans service organization accepting the remains is not liable for storage charges that may have accrued at the funeral home.  The veterans service organization must take all reasonable steps to inter the remains in a veterans cemetery.  The remains may not be scattered.   The organization is not liable for any additional expense of interment.

             For purposes of the statute, a “veterans service organization” means an association organized for the benefit of veterans that has been recognized or chartered by the United States Congress, including the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign War, the American Legion, the Legion of Honor, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Updated: 06/15/2013