1. Who is considered an “other authorized person” under G.L. c. 46, § 9 or “other designee” for purposes of completing and signing a death certificate?

In order to complete and sign a death certificate in Massachusetts, an individual must be either a funeral director registered with the Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors (Board) or an “other authorized person” or “other designee.” An “other authorized person” or “other designee” means a family member, friend, or other acquaintance who completes and signs the death certificate without compensation. Completing and signing a death certificate for compensation by an individual who is not a registered funeral director constitutes the unlicensed practice of funeral directing under Board regulations at 239 CMR 3.01 and is subject to penalties.

2. Who is considered an “other person” under G.L. c. 114, § 45 for purposes of obtaining a burial permit?

In order to obtain a burial permit, an individual must be either a funeral director registered with the Board or an “other person.” An “other person” means a family member, friend, or other acquaintance who obtains the burial permit without compensation. Obtaining a burial permit for compensation constitutes unlicensed practice of funeral directing under Board regulations at 239 CMR 3.01.

3. Who may transport a body?

In order to transport a body, an individual must be either a funeral director registered with the Board or a family member, friend, or other acquaintance who transports the body without compensation. Transporting a body for compensation constitutes the unlicensed practice of funeral directing under Board statute and regulations at G.L. c. 112 § 82 and 239 CMR 3.01.

4. What precautions should be adhered to when transporting a body?

Individuals transporting a body should take measures to ensure the dignity of the body, including but not limited to the use of suitable containers.

5. What precautions should be adhered to prior to burial or cremation?

When a body is not embalmed, it should be maintained at a temperature between 34 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit whenever possible, and should be buried or cremated within 48 hours after death.

6. Who may authorize cremation?

Only the decedent’s next of kin may authorize cremation. If none of the next of kin are available, authorization may be obtained from the duly authorized legal representative of the deceased, the individual designated as the health care proxy for the deceased, or the individual possessing a power of attorney for health care executed by the decedent. A certificate from the medical examiner is also required prior to cremation.