Funerals can be very expensive. You can avoid the greatest expense by simply not having a service at a funeral home. However, there are other things that need to be done that require the services of a funeral home. The law makes it very difficult to avoid using a funeral home. The first problem will be to decide where to transport the body of the deceased. If you cannot immediately arrange for a burial, which requires you to have a death certificate and burial or cremation permit, the body needs to go somewhere. This is generally done by a funeral home which will have facilities to store the body temporarily. The family will be under some pressure to move the body since most locations (e.g., nursing facility, home or other community location) cannot just keep the body for any period of time. A hospital or nursing facility might have a refrigeration unit for storage. A funeral director is authorized by Ohio law to arrange for the issuance of the death certificate. It is very difficult to do both of these things by yourself.
The procedure below outlines how you can make all these arrangements yourself under Ohio law. See my webpage on funeral planning for other suggestions on how to save money on a funeral. Click here /practice-areas/funerals-burial/
1. The funeral director or “other person in charge of final disposition” must register the death with Ohio County Bureau of Vital Statistics. The death certificate form is issued and must be signed by the attending physician or coroner. O.R.C. §3705.16. If a funeral home is not preparing the death certificate, then you need to contact the Ohio Dept. of Health, Vital Statistics, in Columbus to get the death certificate. You cannot contact the local County Dept.
2. Call the County Coroner to report the death if the person died as a result of a crime, casualty, suicide, child under age 2, developmentally disabled person, or death in any suspicious or unusual manner. O.R.C. §313.12. If no funeral home is involved and/or you are going to have a home funeral, it is probably best to call the Coroner or ask the hospital or nursing home to call the Coroner.
3. Call a funeral home for transport to a cemetery or crematory. If you do not want to use a funeral home, call an Ambulance Service which may be willing to transport the body to a cemetery or crematory. You will need to have the burial or cremation permit.
4. Obtain a burial or cremation permit from the County Bureau of Vital Statistics. O.R.C. §3705.17 & O.R.C. §4717.22. The death certificate must be issued first.
5. Make cemetery arrangements for burial or cremation.
6. Plan a memorial service at a community facility or family residence or a grave site/cemetery service. You do not need to use a funeral home. The right for a home funeral is preserved in Ohio law. O.R.C. §4717.12.