In search of more affordable and authentic end of life arrangements, a growing number of families are shunning traditional funeral services, and taking matters into their own hands by organizing home funerals. And for good reason. Home funerals provide loved ones with an opportunity to offer intimate goodbyes to the deceased and personalized attention to each other. They’re informal, comfortable, and full of emotion. And don’t forget the price considerations. With the cost of traditional funerals ranging from $6,000—$8,000, home funerals represent a far more affordable option for price conscious families.
Forty four (44) states, including the District of Colombia, permit families to care for the body of a deceased loved one in lieu of funeral home participation. The requirements for families to do so are not overly burdensome: families must secure the death certificate and burial transit permit—a certificate authorizing the transport of the body to a cemetery, crematory or a medical facility—before final disposition. Contrary to common belief, absent special circumstances, no state requires the body be embalmed.
While the precise steps families must take vary from state to state, typically, after a person is pronounced dead, the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics (or equivalent agency) must be informed. From there, the family will be prompted to contact the local register (or similar local official) who will issue the death and burial transit certificate(s). Families interested in a home burial should consult applicable state law. Local zoning laws will determine whether families are permitted to bury the deceased on their own property, or whether the remains may only be interred in a cemetery. State law will also dictate the range of options regarding the disposition of cremains.
Home funerals allow loved ones a chance to connect with the deceased in ways that traditional funeral services can’t match. As long as families are cognizant of local regulations and procedures, they can typically proceed without the involvement of a funeral director.