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ACT SUMMARY 2007-2008


ACT NO. 56


Health; human remains; funeral directors; crematory operators

This act establishes priority for and lists the persons who may make arrangements for disposition of a deceased’s remains, including the location, manner, and conditions of disposition, and arrangements for funeral goods and services. A written directive from the deceased, such as an advance directive, is given first priority. After that is the individual appointed in an advance directive as responsible for arranging for the disposition of remains. The last person listed in order of priority is the funeral director or crematory operator who has attested in writing that an unsuccessful attempt was made to contact the persons with greater priority. Provision is made for resolving conflicts between and difficulties in contacting parents and siblings. Establishes situations in which a person would forfeit the right to determine the disposition of remains. Establishes who shall be legally responsible for paying for the costs of disposition.

Establishes probate court jurisdiction and the method for determining venue for claims concerning the disposition of remains. Authorizes a funeral director or crematory operator to file a claim in probate court to seek a judgment that he or she acted properly and to recover the costs of disposition of remains. Authorizes a near relative of the decedent or custodian of the decedent’s remains to file an action in probate court requesting the appointment of an individual to make decisions regarding disposition of the remains. Authorizes the funeral director or crematory operator to refrigerate or shelter the remains while awaiting a court decision. Provides some liability protection for funeral directors or crematory operators acting in accordance with this subchapter.

Requires a 24-hour wait before cremation, unless the Department of Health requires cremation sooner due to the presence of a virulent, communicable disease. Authorizes extension of the waiting period upon request of an attorney general or state’s attorney, to allow investigation into the cause of death. Increases the fee for medical examiner’s certificate from $10 to $25. For persons who died outside Vermont, requires the crematory operator to (a) get the out of state transit or cremation permit from the state in which the person died and (b) follow the other state’s guidelines for waiting periods that are longer than Vermont’s.

Effective Date: July 1, 2007

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont