How Funeral Directors Can Support Washington Next-of-Kin Who Wish to Direct or Participate in Care of Their Own Dead
“The most important support funeral directors can provide home funeral families is the compassionate understanding that this is something families feel called to do for their loved one and themselves, their friends, and community. Home funeral families by and large are looking for simplicity, self-reliance, personal responsibility, and a shared, intimate experience that only they can conceive of and conduct.” —Lee Webster, written for the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) “How Funeral Directors Can Support Home Funeral Families”
Washingtonians have the legal right to custody and control of their own dead. Whether the death was anticipated or unanticipated, once time and cause of death are established, the next-of-kin may choose to care for and transport the body, file the death certificate, arrange for disposition, and conduct any other aspect of after-death care. Those choosing to conduct a home funeral may do so without assistance from a funeral director or may prefer to have a funeral director handle some but not all of these tasks.
How can funeral directors assist families who choose home funerals? Please see also:“How Funeral Directors Can Support Home Funeral Families” for 12 categories of services and goods funeral homes can offer to support home funeral families.
Legal Authority of the Next-of-Kin In Washington, the legislative authority for the next-of-kin to act as unpaid funeral services practitioners is found in RCW§68.50.270: "Possession of human remains: The person or persons determined underRCW§68.50.160as having authority to order disposition is entitled to possession of the human remains without further intervention by the state or its political subdivisions."
RCW§68.50.160(1) specifies: “A person has the right to control the disposition of his or her own remains without the predeath or post death consent of another person. A valid written document expressing the decedent's wishes regarding the place or method of disposition of his or her remains, signed by the decedent in the presence of a witness, is sufficient legal authorization for the procedures to be accomplished.” Immediate family are by law the default decision makers regarding physical remains.
Information to Provide Washington Families
National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) www.homefuneralalliance.org
Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) www.funerals.org
2020 Washington Funeral Resources and Education, wafuneral.org
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Washington Funeral Resources and Education is a non-commercial public interest site dedicated to helping Washington consumers care for their own dead with or without the assistance of a funeral director. See FuneralPartnership.org for more state funeral information. This site is maintained as a project of White Eagle Memorial Preserve and Sacred Earth Foundation, which coordinates responses to inquiries with other Washington-based organizations and practitioners that support the mission of the Funeral Partnership.
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