Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that restrict home funerals by requiring the involvement of a licensed funeral director in many aspects of final arrangements. Here is an overview of the rules that govern home funerals in Connecticut.
You Must Use a Funeral Director
By law, a licensed funeral director must oversee the final disposition of a body in Connecticut. For example, a licensed funeral director or embalmer “in charge of the burial” must complete the death certificate, and only a licensed embalmer or funeral director may transport the body. (Connecticut General Statutes §§ 7-62b and 7-69.)
Who Makes Decisions About Body Disposition and Funeral Arrangements?
Though a funeral director must carry out disposition arrangements, Connecticut law is fairly flexible when it comes to designating the person who decides what those arrangements will be. This right to goes first to any person appointed by the deceased before death, and after that to family members in an established order.
To learn the rules and the exact order of priority, see Making Funeral Arrangements in Connecticut.
Must the Body Be Embalmed?
Embalming is almost never required. In Connecticut, a licensed embalmer must handle disposition only if the person died of a contagious disease. (Connecticut General Statutes § 7-62b.)
Completing the Death Certificate
The person in charge of filing the death certificate must do so within five days of the death -- or three days if using an electronic registry. (Connecticut General Statutes § 7-62b.) The death certificate must be filed before handling the final disposition of the body. (Connecticut General Statutes § 7-64.)
You will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out other tasks after the death, such transferring the deceased person’s property to inheritors. The funeral director who files the death certificate should be able to order copies for you.
Getting a Permit to Transport the Body
After filing the death certificate, the funeral director will obtain the necessary permits for transporting the body, and for burial or cremation. In Connecticut, the transport permit is called a “removal, transit and burial permit.”
Can You Bury a Body at Home?
There are no laws in Connecticut that prohibit home burial by a licensed funeral director. The funeral director must obtain a burial permit from the registrar of the town in which the body will be buried, and the permit must state the location of the grave. (Connecticut General Statutes § 7-65.)
Check with local zoning authorities before you proceed with home burial. See the article, Connecticut Widow Fights to Keep Husband's Remains Buried in Yard for an example of how home burials can run afoul of local zoning boards. In that case, Connecticut’s high court directed the widow back to the zoning authority to determine whether her husband’s body could be buried at home.
What About Cremation?
You must arrange cremation through a licensed funeral director, who will obtain the required permits. The permit must state where you intend to store or scatter the remains. Usually, there is a required waiting period of 48 hours before cremation may occur. (Connecticut General Statutes § 19a-323.)
For more information about cremation, including information on storing or scattering ashes, see Burial & Cremation Laws in Connecticut.
Learning More About Home Funerals
You can find out more about home funerals by visiting the National Home Funeral Alliance website. The book Final Rights, by Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson, also offers extensive information on the subject.
For more information about final arrangements and documenting your final wishes in advance, see Nolo’s section on Getting Your Affairs in Order.