DEALING WITH UNCLAIMED REMAINS
By: T. Scott Gilligan, OFDA General Counsel
This year, OFDA was successful in shepherding H.R. 426 through the Ohio legislature to assist funeral homes with a number of disposition issues. One issue that H.R. 426 addresses is that posed by a decedent who has no known relatives. Previously, funeral directors were unable to proceed with any type of disposition unless a public official took charge and authorized a burial or cremation. Now, however, H.R. 426 permits the funeral home on its own to arrange a funeral and disposition whenever the funeral home is unable to locate a person with the right of disposition.
Section 2108.81(B) of the new law sets forth in descending order of priority eight categories of individuals who hold the right of disposition. The final category authorizes funeral directors with the custody of the remains to carry out the disposition if they have made a good faith effort to locate any person in the preceding seven categories and have been unable to do so. However, as a pre-condition of exercising that right of disposition under this section, the funeral director must attest in writing that a good faith effort has been made to locate the persons in the seven preceding categories.
To assist OFDA members, OFDA has prepared and placed on the OFDA forms page a new form entitled "Statement Regarding Search for Persons with Right of Disposition." By filling out and signing this form, the funeral director has complied with the attestation requirements of Section 2108.81(B)(8). Once the document has been signed, it does not need to be filed with any particular government agency. Rather, the funeral home should retain the signed statement in the decedent's funeral file in case the question ever arises as to the funeral director's authority to carry out the disposition.