Home Funeral Legal

Home Funeral Legal


  • In Missouri the coroner or doctor must certify the death by completing the medical information on the death certificate.

  • The death certificate must be completed and filed before the body is buried or cremated*. (see Missouri Process for Others … to Acquire Death Certificate section below)

  • Most states require you to get a permit for transpiration or disposition before moving the body and before final disposition.

  • You should do a walk-through ahead of time with all parties involved, from the local registrar of vital records to the cemetery, crematory, or medical school where the body will be donated. Some of these parties may need to be shown in advance that what you’re doing is legal if they haven’t experienced a home funeral before.



Please Note:  The laws within each state can change.  In Missouri legislation normally changes the end of August.  Although we have checked and updated the most current changes if any on this site.  It is UP TO YOU to check for yourself and follow the links we will provide to the Missouri State Gov. Statute pages and the Resources page.

See links at the end of this section for the Full Missouri Gov Statute pages.


Persons in Missouri may care for their own dead.

The legal authority to do so is found in:

Title 193.145 … 4. The funeral director or person in charge of final disposition of the dead body shall file the certificate of death.

CSR 2120-2.060 (29) (A) No person shall be deemed by the board to be engaged in the practice of funeral directing or to be operating a funeral establishment if the person prepares, arranges, or carries out the burial of the dead human body of a member of one’s own family or next of kin…(B) The board shall not deem a person to be engaged in the practice of funeral directing or to be operating a funeral establishment if the person prepares, arranges, or carries out the burial of a dead human body pursuant to the religious beliefs, tenets, or practices of a religious group, sect or organization… There are no statutes that might require you to use a funeral director.



Title 194.119….

1   As used in this section, the term “right of sepulcher” means the right to choose and control the burial, cremation, or other final disposition of a dead human body.

2   For purposes of this chapter… and in all cases relating to the custody, control, and disposition of deceased human remains, including the common law right of sepulcher, where not other wise defined, the term “next-of-kin” means the following persons in the priority listed if such person is eighteen years of age or older, is mentally competent, and is willing to assume responsibility for the costs of disposition:….

3   The next-of-kin of the deceased shall be entitled to control the final disposition of the remains of any dead human being consistent with all applicable laws, including all applicable health codes.


193.145..1 A certificate of death of each death which occurs in state shall be filed with the local registrar, or as otherwise directed by the state registrar, within five days after death and shall be registered if such certificate has been completed and filed pursuant to this section. All data providers in the death registration process, including, but not limited to, the state registrar, local registrars, the state medical examiner, county medical examiners, coroners, funeral directors or persons acting as such…..shall be required to use and utilize any electronic death registration system required and adopted under subsection 1 of 193.265…..


As of February 2012, the process for obtaining a blank death certificate if you are not a licensed Funeral Director was changed in Missouri. We are happy to have been a part of the process that prompted the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records to define a clear “process” for those “acting as funeral director” for their loved ones. Although it is a bit cumbersome, Missourians who wish to act as funeral director for their loved ones now have a defined process on how to obtain a blank death certificate.

Information Re-verified by the Bureau of Vital Records 5/31/16

The Bureau of Vital Records is categorizing the process for Home Funerals much as they categorize the process of acquiring a blank Birth Certificate for Home Births. Although deaths and births are electronically filed, home births and home funeral death certificates will always have a paper trail and a paper form.

For a Home Funeral only the person in charge of the final disposition will be able to acquire a blank death certificate and it must be directly acquired from the Bureau of Vital Records in Jefferson City, MO.

Section 193.145 RSMo prescribes how a death certificate is to be filed. See also Sections 58.215, 58.451 and 58.720 RSMo and 19 CSR 10-10.050.

When a death occurs in Missouri and someone other than a funeral director is in charge of the final disposition, the other person must contact the Bureau of Vital Records at (573) 522-1716 for instructions. The Bureau of Vital Records will require a written request for a blank death certificate. A written request must, at a minimum, include the following items:

  • Decedent’s legal name (including last name prior to first marriage if female)

  • Date of death

  • Date of birth

  • Place of death (including facility name if applicable, city, state and county)

  • Name and telephone number of physician or medical certifier – coroner

  • Name of requester and relationship to decedent

  • Requester’s mailing address

  • Requester’s telephone number

One death certificate and instructions for completing it will be mailed to the requester. The death certificate is completed and certified – signed by the physician or coroner. The completed death certificate must be mailed to the Bureau of Vital Records by the medical certifier (Physician/ME/Coroner).

Personal Note: We did have a conversation with the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the State Registrar regarding the fact that this process did not conform to the time constraints of the filing of the death certificate according to Missouri Law. Their reply was “it is ok and that most death certificates rarely were filed within 5 days. And since a death certificate is not required to bury it would not impede the family’s ability to do so.”

However a death certificate must be filed in Missouri BEFORE cremation can occur. In this instance you may very well need to work directly with the crematory on allowing them to assist you in obtaining and processing the death certificate.



A body may be moved with the consent of a physician, medical examiner, or coroner. An out-of-state disposition permit can be obtained from a funeral director or the Bureau of Vital Records/Statistics if the body will be removed from the state.


Home burial is permissible in Missouri. Rural Land, not to exceed one acre, must be deeded in trust through the county commission and the deed filed with the county court within 60 days after a burial. Check with the county or town registrar for local zoning laws regarding rural home burial. There are no state burial statutes or regulations with regard to depth. A sensible guideline is 150 feet from a water supply and at least two feet of earth on top. There is no permit required for burial if the notification of death or death certificate has been filed.

Family Burial Ground is covered in MO Statute – Cemeteries Chapter 214 Section.090


All cremation must be in a licensed facility. The death certificate must be completed and filed with the registrar prior to cremation. The physician completing the death certificate will authorize cremation. Authorization by next-of-kin is also required, and a pacemaker must be removed.

One may authorization one’s own cremation prior to death. There are no laws regarding the disposition of cremated remains. You may do as you wish.

A sturdy capsule with the name of the deceased, social security number, and dates of birth and death must be placed in each casket or container for cremated remains.



For families handling a “normal” death on their own, there are no statutory embalming requirements. Although assumed as a law, it is not.  Embalming is a tenant within the Funeral Industry.  If you are utilizing a Funeral Home or Funeral Director it is their prerogative and normal process (if not specifically stated you wish otherwise) to embalm if the loved one is not to be buried within a specific amount of time.  You must be  diligent in your oversight of this.

Although there are no Missouri Laws requiring embalming – regulations promulgated by the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, however, require embalming or refrigeration after 24 hours if they are performing services for the family.

If the next-of-kin have not yet been located or if waiting any longer would make the embalming job more difficult, the mortuary may go ahead and embalm the body after 6 hours without consulting you.

When the death is due to an infectious disease, burial or cremation must occur within 24 hours unless the body is embalmed. Embalming under such circumstances is the worst possible thing to do as it puts funeral personnel at risk. To their credit, Hawaii, Delaware, North Carolina and Ontario forbid embalming in those situations; Ohio and Montana require immediate disposition.

If shipping by common carrier, a body which will not reach its destination within 24 hours must be embalmed or encased in a sealed casket. If death is due to Asiatic cholera, typhus, typhoid or ship fever, yellow fever, bubonic plague, diphtheria, scarlet fever, glanders, anthrax, leprosy, small pox, TB, puerperal fever, erysipelas, measles or “other dangerous or communicable diseases,” embalming is required prior to shipping. Alternatively, the body may be wrapped in a disinfectant-saturated sheet before being placed in a sealed casket.

Links for Full Text of Legal Statutes at the Missouri Gov. Site

Search them regularly and print them out to have on your person when you begin to go through this process.  Current as of 9/28/2015

Chapter 194 on Disposition of Dead Bodies   http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/chaptersIndex/ChaptIndex194.html

Chapter on Right of Sepulcher (Disposition & Control of the Body) http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/19400001191.html

Death Certificates   http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/19300001451.html Although this is the technical legal process – refer to the section on obtaining a blank paper death certificate directly from the Dept. of Vital Records.  The Process is outlined below.

Burial on Home Rural Property http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/21400000901.html

Missouri Rules for Embalmers & Funeral Directors http://s1.sos.mo.gov/cmsimages/adrules/csr/previous/20csr/20csr1209/20c2120-1.pdf  Section 20 CRS 2120-2 Section (29) Clearly states that anyone doing particular acts in caring for their dead are NOT considered performing acts of a Funeral Director. In other words this section makes it clear that it is not illegal (you are not impersonating a funeral director) for you to do these acts.  We have included this section in case there is ever any misunderstanding by a local Funeral Director that you are illegally performing his job.  The Missouri statutes are very clear on what defines a Funeral Director and what does not – in this reference a loved one caring for their loved one or performing a religious ritual for them.



This Sacred Crossing Home Funeral Education Site exists Only as an  Educational Resource. Please Verify the Statutes yearly for your area and with the State of Missouri.


Neshamah & Goodhope Ministries are  a Missouri non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, founded 3-01-08