Unusual Funeral, Burial, and Cremation Laws in Different States


Posted on December 11, 2018 by

If you’re in the process of planning a funeral, or have been through it before, you’ve likely noticed that in addition to all the arrangements that need to be made, there are also certain rules and regulations you need to follow. States often have specific laws about funerals and burials, so it’s important to know the laws in not only your own state, but also other states if a funeral requires you to travel to another part of the country. Here are some unusual and interesting funeral and burial laws in different states.

1. Texas Cremation Timeframes

If the deceased wished for cremation of their remains, most states and counties have a required 24-hour waiting period before allowing a body to become cremated. Texas, however, has a longer waiting period of 48 hours before allowing cremation. Since these timeframes can sometimes even vary based on the county, you’ll want to check the regulations relevant to your area before proceeding with cremation.

2. Scattering Ashes in Florida

After cremation, it’s not uncommon to scatter the ashes of the remains. However, each state has their own regulations about where you can scatter ashes, with some states only allowing scattering in cemeteries or uninhabited public lands – and other places even require written consent. Florida has some of the most oddly specific laws about scattering ashes: if you are scattering them in the water, it must be at least 1,800 feet deep.

3. Home Burials Throughout the United States

While home burials were once the go-to gravesite for family members, we’ve seen a shift away from this practice. In most of the country, there aren’t laws against performing home burials, though you’ll likely need to fit into a set of regulations first. However, California, Washington, Indiana, and the District of Columbia all prohibit home burials.

4. Embalming When Crossing Certain State Borders

Embalming can help preserve the body after death, but no states require it. Some states have conditions on embalming, such as within a certain time period after death or if the deceased had suffered from an infectious disease. If a body crosses the state line of Alabama or Alaska, the law requires embalming. The same applies to bodies crossing state lines of California, Kansas, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Idaho, but only if the body is leaving on a common carrier like an airplane or train.  Sometimes there are ways around these laws such as having an immediate burial or preserving the deceased on dry ice, but use caution and obtain legal advice from an expert to ensure what you are doing is legal.

While they don’t apply to all states, these unusual laws serve as a reminder that it’s always best to check what laws apply to your state or county so that you can best represent your loved one’s wishes without causing any legal complications in the process.

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