It’s A Law, Isn’t It?

It’s a law, isn’t it?

You’d be surprised how many times I hear this question with regard to funeral service.  So many people have misconceptions about the reasoning behind many products and services in the funeral, cemetery and monument industries.  I’ll share the Q and A’s about the topics I hear about most.

 You have to place an obituary – that’s a law, isn’t it?

Absolutely not.  While an obituary is a useful tool in spreading the word regarding your families’ plan for your deceased loved one’s services, it is by no means required by law.  Nowadays, most funeral homes place an obituary on their website. Beinhauer’s has an entire section devoted to Online Tributes that includes the obituary, and a place to make donations, share memories and photos.  We even have access to obituaries on our Facebook page.

Whenever a person dies, it is the responsibility of the funeral director to file a death certificate with the local registrar within 96 hours of the death.  The funeral director also files paperwork with social security, letting them know about an individual’s death.

 Embalming – that’s a law, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no.  When a family decides to hold a public visitation, meaning that an obituary is placed in a newspaper (or placed in some other public form of media) and friends and family are invited to come and visit at the funeral home, embalming is required by law if the deceased person’s body is going to be present.  However, if there is no announcement of public visitation, and only a small number of immediate family or friends come to view the body for a short time, embalming is not required by law.  Embalming may also be required if a person is going to be placed in a mausoleum.  This rule is created and enforced by the cemetery; however the rules vary from cemetery to cemetery.

 You have to have a vault – that’s a law, isn’t it?

No. Again, each cemetery is permitted to make and enforce its own rules.  Most cemeteries do require that, at minimum, a family utilize an outer burial container.  This is type of container is merely designed to hold up the weight of the earth.  A vault, on the other hand, can be used in place of an outer burial container so that it can make an attempt to keep water and other debris from touching the casket.  It is a families’ choice to select either an outer burial container or vault, if a cemetery requires some type of outer burial container to protect against settling of the ground in the grave.