Is it legal to manage funerals yourself in NH? New Hampshire RSA 290clearly spells out the right of next-of-kin, or an agent designated by him or her prior to death, to be responsible for taking custody and control of the body. This ensures families the right to conduct any and all funeral details, including filing any necessary paperwork, care of the body, and transportation. Must a body be embalmed? Embalming is NOT required in any state, and only two states require embalming to cross state lines (Alabama, Arkansas). The practice is for cosmetic purposes only and has no health and safety properties whatsoever. In fact, bodies infected with untreatable disease are not candidates for embalming, though Oregon still requires embalming for infectious bodies despite the health risks. What can be done instead? Simple, inexpensive cooling methods such as air conditioning, Techni Ice™(available through Amazon) or dry ice (www.dryicedirectory.com), are sufficient for 1 to 3 days in the home or other appropriate venue. In fact, the average body will hold for that long in a 65 degree room with no adverse outcomes under average circumstances. Many funeral homes do not provide refrigeration, so the body is held in a cool room. Who may complete the death certificate? The next-of-kin, a designated agent, or a funeral director may complete the death certificate, with information provided by the family in any case. It must be written clearly in black ink or typed, with no erasures, cross-outs or corrections. The information will then be transferred electronically by the Town Clerk or a funeral director to Vital Statistics. A Transit/Transport/Burial permit will then be generated that is required to accompany the body to final disposition. What is the timeline for filing paperwork in New Hampshire? NH law requires that the death certificate be signed by an authorized physician within 24 hours. It then needs to be filed with the Town Clerk in the town of death or directly with the Office of Vital Statistics in Concord within 36 hours. Likewise, the Transit/Transport/Burial Permit (which is generated upon filing the death certificate) must be signed by an authorized official (or next-of-kin in the case of home burial) and filed with the Town Clerk within 6 days. Must a minister perform a service? There is no legal requirement that clergy perform a service. Families may choose to create and conduct a unique and meaningful service themselves that celebrates and honors their family member, or invite clergy to participate. What do funerals cost? The average modern funeral in the U.S. costs $8,755 (National Funeral Directors Association, 2017) for basic non-declinable fees, embalming, other preparation of the body, transportation, use of facilities and staff, an average metal casket, a concrete outer burial vault, and use of a hearse. This figure does NOT include a cemetery plot or opening and closing fees, cremation fees, medical examiner fee, obituaries, flowers, monuments, grave markers, musician or clergy honorariums to conduct funeral or memorial services. Other than the non-declinable fee, families may choose which services to purchase from funeral establishments. (See the 2020 Funeral Home Price Survey for more info specific to NH.) Home funerals, direct cremations and immediate burials, and family-directed memorials, in contrast, may cost a fraction of that, depending on which services families wish to perform themselves. Families can also purchase locally made, bio-degradable caskets and urns directly from NH companies and artists, or make them themselves, at a significant cost savings. What are Direct Cremations and Immediate Burials? Both refer simply to the cremation or burial, without embalming, viewing, funeral or memorial services in the funeral home (you may have one elsewhere) or other incidentals such as flowers, prayer cards, etc. See What to Expect When Funeral Shopping for more information about what is included or call a funeral director to learn what services they include.