Laws Pertaining to Unclaimed Remains

Friday, May 13, 2016 2:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

There is a surprising trend across the country as funeral establishments are left to care for the cremated remains of individuals who are long forgotten by family or friends. Funeral homes across the U.S. are facing the same challenges about what to do with these forgotten remains.

CFDA helped to change Colorado laws in 2011 to address the appropriate handling for unclaimed cremated remains. 

The “Exceptions-Safe Harbor” statutes in the Mortuary Science Code outline the requirements for notification of the family, documenting, storing and disposing of unclaimed cremated remains from 180 days to 3 years after cremation. 

The laws provide that “if cremated remains are not claimed by the person with the right of final disposition within three years after cremation, a funeral establishment may dispose of the remains in an unrecoverable manner by placing the remains in an ossuary or by scattering the remains in a dedicated cemetery, scattering garden, or consecrated ground used exclusively for these purposes.”

The decision to continue to hold unclaimed cremated remains is left up to the funeral home, and appropriate documentation and notification must be satisfied before any disposition can occur.

Now is the time to review YOUR firm’s policies and practices for handling cremated remains, including tracking an individual from the time they are taken into the care of the funeral home through the cremated remains being claimed by the next-of-kin or final disposition being carried out.

The overwhelming majority of funeral directors are dedicated, honest and trustworthy professionals. Please take these issues to heart and be understanding as our communities grapple with concerns raised by these negative stories. 

Continue to abide by CFDA’s Code of Ethics and do your utmost to ensure trust and integrity for all Funeral Directors and the funeral service profession in Colorado.

Click here to read the full CFDA Member Bulletin, May 13, 2016