This page contains information on the laws regarding funerals in Kentucky. It is not a complete list, but only a partial listing. For specific questions, please contact the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.
Funeral Planning Declaration
Kentucky now allows you to make a document called a “funeral planning declaration” to name a trusted person to carry out your funeral arrangements. This is form FPD-1, 04-17. This became available in July of 2016 under KRS 367.93103.
Kentucky law determines who can make decisions about the disposition of your body by cremation. This right and responsibility goes to the following people, in order:
- a representative (called your “designee”) that you name in a declaration form made before your death
- your surviving spouse
- your adult children
- your parents
- your grandchildren
- your siblings
- your next of kin, or
- any other person willing to act for you who has a valid prepaid funeral plan setting out your arrangements, after attempting to contact anyone on the list above.
For more information, use this link: Kentucky Revised Statutes § 367.93117.
Making a declaration form. To make a valid document appointing someone to carry out your final wishes, you must write down what you want in a dated form and sign the document in front two witnesses. You must also have your signature acknowledged by a notary public. Neither of your witnesses may be:
- a person who signed the declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourself
- your parent, spouse, or child
- the person you designate as your representative under the form, or
- a person who is entitled to any part of your estate by will or under state law.
Unless related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption, the person you name to carry out your wishes (your designee) may not be:
- a provider of funeral or cemetery services
- responsible for any aspect of the disposition of your remains, or
- associated with any entity that is responsible for providing funeral or cemetery services or disposing of your remains.
For additional information, use this link: Kentucky Revised Statutes § 367.93103.
Laws Regarding Death Certificates
Section 1. KRS 213.076 is amended to read as follows:
(1) A certificate of death or a provisional certificate of death for each death which occurs in the Commonwealth shall be filed with the cabinet or as otherwise directed by the state registrar prior to final disposition, and it shall be registered if it has been completed and filed in accordance with this section. The funeral director, or person acting as such, who first takes custody of a dead body shall be responsible for filing the certificate of death. The funeral director, or person acting as such, shall obtain the required personal and statistical particulars from the person best qualified to supply them over the signature and address of the informant. The funeral director, or person acting as such, shall within five (5) days of the death, present the certificate to the attending physician, if any, or to the health officer or coroner as directed by the state registrar, for the medical certificate of the cause of death and other particulars necessary to complete the record as required by this chapter.
(a) It shall be unlawful for an institution to release a dead human body until the funeral director, or person acting as such, has completed and filed with the local registrar or person in charge of the institution, a provisional certificate of death. If death occurs outside an institution, the provisional certificate shall be filed with the local registrar by the funeral director, or person acting as such, prior to final disposition of the dead body. A copy of the provisional certificate of death signed by the person with whom it was filed, shall constitute authority for the possession, transportation, and, except for cremation, final disposition of the body.
(b) All persons having in their possession a completed provisional certificate of death shall file the certificate at not more than weekly intervals with the local registrar.
(c) If the place of death is unknown but the dead body is found in the Commonwealth, the certificate of death shall be completed and filed in accordance with this section. The place where the body is found shall be shown as the place of death. If the date of death is unknown, it shall be determined by approximation subject to amendment upon completion of any postmortem examination required to be performed.
(d) If death occurs in a moving conveyance in the United States and the body is first removed from the conveyance in the Commonwealth, the death shall be registered in Kentucky, and the place where it is first removed shall be considered the place of death. If a death occurs on a moving conveyance while in international waters or air space or in a foreign country or its air space, and the body is first removed from the conveyance in the Commonwealth, the death shall be registered in Kentucky, but the certificate shall show the actual place of death insofar as can be determined.
(2) If any certificate of death is incomplete or unsatisfactory, the state registrar shall call attention to the defects in the certificate and require the person responsible for the entry to complete or correct it. The state registrar may also require additional information about the circumstances and medical conditions surrounding a death in order to properly code and classify the underlying cause.
(3) The medical certification shall be completed, signed, and returned to the funeral director within five (5) working days after presentation to the physician, dentist, or chiropractor in charge of the patient’s care for the illness or condition which resulted in death, except when inquiry is required by KRS 72.400 to 72.475. In such cases, and if the cause of death is unknown or under investigation, the cause of death shall be shown as such on the certificate. A supplemental report providing the medical information omitted from the original certificate shall be filed by the certifier with the State Registrar within five (5) days after receiving results of the inquiry as required by KRS 72.400 to 72.475. The supplemental report shall be made a part of the existing death certificate. Such report shall be considered an amendment, and the death certificate shall be marked “Amended” [the coroner shall complete and sign the certificate within five (5) days after receiving results of the inquiry as required by KRS 72.400 to 72.475].. In the absence of the physician, dentist, or chiropractor, or with such person’s approval, the certificate may be completed and signed by his associate physician, dentist, or chiropractor, or the chief medical officer of the institution in which death occurred, or the physician who performed an autopsy upon the decedent, or a physician employed by the local health department, if the individual has access to the medical history of the case and death is due to natural causes.
Following are some of Kentucky’s regulations concerning crematoriums:
- Before a crematorium may open, the owner must obtain a license through the Attorney General.
- The operator of the crematorium must have at least 48 hours of relevant training and be registered with the Attorney General.
- The crematorium must keep information on those who are cremated, including their name, date the body was received, date the cremation was performed, name of person authorizing cremation, and name of person performing cremation. This information must be kept on file for 10 years.
- Only one body may be cremated at a time.
- The body may not be removed from the cremation container once it is delivered to the crematorium.
- A body may not be cremated if it has hazardous implants such as a pacemaker, or any toxic or explosive-type sealed implants. The person authorizing the cremation must notify the crematorium of such devices, and they must be removed before cremation.
- To avoid mixing of remains:
- identifying information is placed on the container before cremation;
- during cremation, this information is placed on the chamber; and
- after cremation, the information is placed on the urn or temporary container.
- Once a body has been cremated,
- the ashes are to be put in a specified container;
- the cremation area is then thoroughly cleaned; and then
- the ashes are delivered as requested.
- Once a body has been cremated and the ashes delivered to the family, the family may do with them what they please. This includes scattering them on private property with owner permission, scattering them in approved public places, or keeping them in the urn or container.
In the event that there is a conflict between the decedent’s prearrangement and the demands of the next class of authorizing agent in the order set forth in KRS 367.97501(1) regarding cremation, the crematory shall not accept for cremation those human remains without an order deciding the issues entered by the District Court of the county of the decedent’s residence or the county where the funeral home or the crematory authority is located. This order may be issued by the court after a petition for resolution has been initiated by any natural person listed in KRS 367.97501(1) or the crematory authority. Unless extraordinary circumstances exist, the court shall give due deference to the desires of the deceased as expressed in the prearrangement.
Laws, Rules and Regulations of Kentucky Funeral Directors (partial)
316.170 Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors — Membership — Qualifications — Meetings.
(1) The board shall consist of five (5) members who shall be residents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Four (4) members shall be Kentucky-licensed embalmers and Kentucky-licensed funeral directors actively practicing embalming and funeral directing in a Kentucky funeral establishment and shall have a minimum of ten (10) years’ consecutive experience in the practice of embalming and funeral directing in Kentucky immediately preceding their appointment. One (1) member shall be a citizen at large who is not associated with or financially interested in the practice or business regulated.
(2) The Governor shall make all appointments to the board. The four (4) embalmer and funeral director members shall be appointed from a list of three (3) names submitted by the Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky and from a list of three (3) names submitted by the Kentucky Association of Morticians, Inc., for each position to be filled.
(3) The term of each member shall be four (4) years. Each member shall serve until a successor is appointed and qualified.
(4) Vacancies on the board shall be filled in the same manner for the unexpired terms.
(5) Each board member shall receive one hundred dollars ($100) for each day of service actually given in carrying out the board’s duties and shall be reimbursed for necessary traveling expenses and other necessary expenses incurred in attending board meetings and carrying out the board’s duties.
(6) The board shall elect annually a president from its members.
(7) The board shall meet as often as necessary to discharge its duties, but not less than once a year.
(8) Three (3) members shall constitute a quorum.
Effective: July 15, 1996
History: Amended 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 149, sec. 9, effective July 15, 1996. — Amended
1976 Ky. Acts ch. 206, sec. 9, effective June 19, 1976. — Amended 1960 Ky. Acts
ch. 52, sec. 17, effective June 16, 1960. — Recodified 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 208, sec. 1,
effective October 1, 1942, from Ky. Stat. sec. 1599a-1.
316.030 Embalmer’s license – Qualifications – Funeral director’s license – Qualifications – Apprenticeship
(1) No person shall engage in, or attempt to engage in, embalming or funeral directing in the Commonwealth of Kentucky unless the person is licensed under the provisions of this chapter.
(2) One (1) member of every firm, and one (1) officer and one (1) stockholder of every corporation, that engages in embalming and funeral directing in Kentucky, shall be a Kentucky – licensed embalmer and a Kentucky – licensed funeral director.
(3) The board shall issue an embalmer’s license to an applicant who:
(a) Is at least eighteen (18) years of age;
(b) Is of good moral character;
(c) Has graduated from high school or possesses a High School Equivalency Diploma;
(d) Has received an associate degree in funeral services from a college or university accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education;
(e) Has served an apprenticeship of one (1) year in a Kentucky funeral establishment under the supervision of a Kentucky – licensed embalmer.
(f) Has taken an active part during the apprenticeship in assisting with the embalming of at least twenty-five (25) dead human bodies under the direct supervision of a Kentucky-licensed embalmer,
(g) Has paid to the board an examination fee of seventy-five dollars ($75); and
(h) Has passed an examination prepared or approved by the board.
(4) The board shall issue a funeral director’s license to an applicant who:
(a) Is at least eighteen (18) years of age;
(b) Is of good moral character;
(c) Has graduated from high school or possesses a High School Equivalency Diploma;
(d) Has served an apprenticeship of three (3) consecutive years in a Kentucky funeral establishment under the supervision of a Kentucky-licensed funeral director. An associate degree in funeral services from a college or university accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education shall substitute for two (2) years of apprenticeship. The completion of thirty (30) semester credit hours or the equivalent from an accredited college or university shall substitute for one (1) year of the apprenticeship. At no time shall more than two (2) years of the apprenticeship be substituted.
(e) Has taken an active part during the apprenticeship in assisting with the management of at least twenty-five (25) funerals under the direct supervision of a Kentucky-licensed funeral director.
(f) Has paid to the board an examination fee of seventy-five dollars ($75); and
(g) Has passed an examination prepared or approved by the board.
(5) An applicant may serve embalming and funeral directing apprenticeships concurrently.
(6) At the beginning of an apprenticeship, an applicant for an embalmer’s or a funeral director’s license shall:
(a) Appear before the board;
(b) Pay to the board a registration fee of thirty dollars ($30); and
(c) File with the board the sworn statement of the supervising Kentucky-licensed embalmer or the Kentucky-licensed funeral director averring that the applicant will work full-time under supervision in the funeral establishment and will receive a regular salary.
(7) An applicant shall work full-time in the funeral establishment during the apprenticeship and shall receive a regular salary.
(8) An applicant shall file with the board semiannually during the apprenticeship sworn statements by the applicant and the supervising Kentucky-licensed embalmer or Kentucky-licensed funeral director setting out the number of hours worked, the number of embalmings or funerals in which the applicant has assisted, and the salary received.
(9) A Kentucky-licensed embalmer or a Kentucky-licensed funeral director shall not supervise more than five (5) applicants serving apprenticeships at any one (1) time.
Necessity and function:316.030(3)(h), (4)(g) require an applicant for an embalmer’s license or a funeral director’s license to pass examinations prepared or approved by the board. The function of this administrative regulation is to establish the procedure, content, and time of examinations.
Section 1. Content of Examination. (1) The examination for a license to practice embalming and the examination for a license to practice funeral directing shall be written examinations administered by one (1) or more members of the board.
(2) The subjects to be covered in the examination for embalmer’s license shall be as follows:
(f) Restorative art;
(g) Mortuary administration and law;
(i) Sociology; and
(3) The subjects to be covered in the examination for funeral director’s license shall be as follows:
(a) Mortuary administration;
(e) Business law
(f) Primary psychology;
(g) Transportation rules;
(h) Hygiene, sanitation, and disinfection; and
(i) Requirements of KRS Chapter 316 and the administrative regulations promulgated pursuant to KRS Chapter 316.