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Unclaimed Cremated Remains Policies
All, we are currently developing an unclaimed cremated remains policy. Any forms/procedures along these lines would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Our policy states: “In the event the cremated remains of the deceased remain unclaimed for a period of 30 days, the funeral home shall give written notice to the authorizing agent by certified mail. The authorizing agent agrees that in the event the cremated remains of the deceased remain unclaimed for a period of 120 days after the date such written notification is mailed, the funeral home is authorized and directed to dispose of the unclaimed cremated remains of the deceased in any lawful manner it may deem appropriate.”
We do, in fact, have an agreement with a local cemetery, and the cremains are buried in an unmarked grave there although the cemetery keeps a record of their location so that the cremains may be recovered if the family changes their mind. We are not required by Texas law to do that, but we have made several families happy by being able to recover interred cremains.
Illinois law provides that the crematory may dispose of cremated remains after a period of 60 DAYS following the cremation, if no instruction has been given by the person who authorized the cremation. In reality, we do keep them longer than this, in some cases........much longer.
This does not directly answer your request, but this ceremony may become a national law, not just New Jersey.
The New Jersey Mission of Honor has a program that will bury the cremated remains of veterans that are not claimed for over one year. As you can see we had eight veterans that we never claimed by their families that were buried by this organization through our funeral home. It was an incredible turnout for a service that people attending did not know the men that died. I am attaching the links from the newspapers if you are interested in reading about the ceremony. Television news stations covered it as well. One newspaper did a Youtube video.
Just some food for thought based on past experience. I would make sure to notify by certified mail all the families of unclaimed cremated bodies about your intentions/policy. This might save you a few headaches in the future
I have attached the forms we use to notify people of your intention to bury/inurn the unclaimed cremated remains that you already have at your funeral home. (Attachments removed to protect poster's privacy.) You will have to adjust them for Maryland laws and the options that the families will have available to them. The first one is the letter to be mailed to the person who arranged for the cremation and the second one is a publication in the newspaper for a general announcement.
As far as notifying at need arrangements, as you are going over the cremation authorization, you can list the options available to the family for disposition of the cremated remains if that is not already on your cremation authorization forms. We list the following section on our cremation authorization: "Although cremation is a legal form of disposition, it is not final disposition. I am/we are aware that decisions must be made at this time for the final disposition of the cremated remains and authorize the Funeral Home to deliver, ship, release or dispose of the cremated remains as soon as possible as follows (please select all arrangement options that apply):
Temporary Urn --- Permanent Urn --- Multiple Urns (Number)
Bury in Cemetery --- Inurn in Mausoleum --- Scatter remains (will NOT be recoverable) --- Deliver to address listed --- Release to designated person --- Ship U.S.P.S. to designated person (registered return receipt)