Statutes

The following information is an excerpt from the The Vital Records Registration Handbook:

FINAL DISPOSITION WITHOUT THE SERVICES OF A LICENSED FUNERAL PROFESSIONAL

There are some instances when a family wishes to handle final disposition for their deceased loved one; they want to act as their own funeral director.  The family member must follow all the laws and rules that pertain to funeral directors, as well as vital statistics.

The following procedures must be followed regarding filing the proper paperwork for the Bureau of Vital Statistics:

  1. The family member must contact the local vital statistics office within the county health department, who will assist them in this process.
  2. Upon notification from a family member that they intend to act as their own funeral director, the registrar will advise them of their responsibilities as they pertain to vital statistics and obtain the following information:

a. The decedent’s name, date of death and location of death;

b. The family member’s name, address, phone number and relationship to the decedent;

c. The physician’s name who will certify the death record;

d. The location of death (hospital, hospice, nursing home, residence, etc.);

e. Current location of the remains;

f. The method of disposition.

3. The registrar must then:

a. Verify that the death occurred by contacting the physician who has agreed to certify the death record. It is suggested that the CDR contact the physician immediately to determine if they will sign the death record for the family member;

b. If unfamiliar with the physician certifying the death, the license should be verified with the Department of Health; that web address is: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP.

c. Verify that whoever is holding the remains is willing to release them to the family member;

d. Obtain a copy of the police report or contact the hospice, nursing home, etc., as appropriate;

e. If cremation, the CDR will need to provide a copy of the completed/signed death record to the medical examiner and obtain the approval number before giving the permit to the family member.

f. Report the death to the medical examiner if the death did not occur in a medical facility.

4. The family member or representative must make an appointment with the chief deputy registrar to obtain a blank death record and complete the application for burial transit permit (Part A).

a. The permit cannot be issued (Part B) until the completed and signed death record is filed with the county office.

b. The CDR will provide the applicant with instructions for completion of the death record (Chapter 5 in the handbook).

c. The CDR will advise the family member that final disposition cannot occur until a completed death record is received in the county vital statistics office and the CDR issues the burial transit permit.

5. Upon receipt of the completed death record, the registrar must review the record for completeness and accuracy. If acceptable, the CDR will issue the burial transit permit (complete Part B) and instruct the applicant to return the Cemetery/Crematory copy permit within 10 days after final disposition to the vital statistics office in the county where disposition took place.

Other statutory requirements or items to be considered:A body must be buried within 24 hours of death unless embalmed or held in refrigeration at 40 degrees F (s. 497.386(2), Florida Statutes);

    • Transportation of a dead body must be done in a container that does not allow seepage of fluids or offensive odors (s. 497.386(3), Florida Statutes);
    • Cremation cannot take place until 48 hours after death (s. 872.03, F. S.);
    • The physician must be willing to work with the family rather than a licensed funeral director;
    • Obtaining paperwork and getting the registration process started might work with relative ease if a person dies at a “convenient” time, such as 8:00 am on a Tuesday. If death occurs at 2:45 am on a Saturday, it becomes more difficult to contact all the required parties.