Louisiana 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 Louisiana.
By law, a licensed funeral director must oversee the final disposition of a body in Louisiana. State law requires that all human remains be “disposed of and prepared through a funeral establishment and under the supervision of a licensed funeral home or embalmer.” (See Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:848 (2018).)
Although a funeral director must carry out disposition arrangements, Louisiana law determines who has the right to make final decisions about a person’s body and funeral services. This right goes first to the deceased person, if they wrote down instructions before their 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 Louisiana.
Embalming is almost never required. In Louisiana, a body must be embalmed or refrigerated only if disposition does not occur within 30 hours after death. (Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:848 (2018).)
The person in charge of filing the death certificate must do so within five days of the death and before final disposition of the body. (See Louisiana Revised Statutes § 40:47 (2018).)
You will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out certain tasks after the death, such as transferring the deceased person’s property to inheritors. The funeral director who files the death certificate should be able to order copies for you.
After filing the death certificate, the funeral director will obtain the necessary permits for transporting the body, and for burial or cremation. In Louisiana, the transport permit is called a “burial transit permit.” (Louisiana Revised Statutes § 40:52 (2018).)
In Louisiana, bodies must be buried in established cemeteries. (Louisiana Revised Statutes § 8:652 (2018).) If you want to bury a body on private land and you live in a rural area, you may be able to establish a family cemetery. You should check with the county or town clerk for any zoning laws or other ordinances you must follow, and then contact the Louisiana Cemetery Board for more information on creating a new cemetery.
You must arrange cremation through a funeral director, who will obtain the required permits. (Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:877 (2018).) There are no laws in Louisiana restricting disposition of the ashes.
For more information about cremation, including information on scattering ashes, see Burial and Cremation Laws in Louisiana.
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.