State law requires bodies to be buried, embalmed, cremated or refrigerated within 24 hours, but that doesn't mean families who want to bury their own dead have to do everything on their own, said Bob Clifford, Rivera Family Funerals and Cremation's director of operations.

A funeral home can take care of obtaining the death certificate, transporting the body, preparing the body for viewing and conducting a funeral and burial, he said, "or anything in between."

Clifford said only three or four of the approximately 500 bodies the mortuary handles each year are buried at someone's home.

People who wish to bury their family members at home must complete an apply for a permit from the county where they live. Documents required as part of the application include a property deed, a survey showing the location of the grave and a notarized affidavit of burial site.

Graves must be 6 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 9 feet long.

They also must be 25 feet from any property line or easement, and 100 feet from any water source including wells, ditches, leach fields or springs. 

People who wish to pick up a body from the state Office of the Medical Investigator must obtain a transportation permit from the state Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, and file a death certificate with that agency before the body will be released. 

The person retrieving the body must show identification, and the body must be transported in an enclosed vehicle to protect it from the elements and from being seen by the public during transport.

(1) comment

Richard Reinders

Not everyone can afford a funeral home services. But publishing a (complete list) of requirements online and in print form would be helpful.

Welcome to the discussion.

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