Skip to Content

How Long Can a Funeral Home Hold a Body Before Burial?

Because the situation differs by state, the response can really be complex. Howbeit, most bodies are kept in a funeral home for 3 to 7 days between the moment of death and the funeral service. Since there are so many tasks that must be accomplished in this span of time, it may be convenient for the service to be deferred. Nevertheless, note that the longer a body is kept in a funeral home, the higher the service charges.

There are currently no federal guidelines governing how long a body should be kept prior to burial or cremation; however, most states prohibit cremation within 24 or 48 hours of death. In the event of a health risk to the public, this timeline might be trimmed down.

Recommended:  4 Best Grants to Start a Funeral Home

State Laws Regarding How Long a Funeral Home Can Hold a Body Before Burial

As previously stated, there aren’t any federal regulations regarding how long a funeral home could keep a body. Nevertheless, many states have rules mandating that a body be embalmed or refrigerated within 24 to 48 hours of death.

Several states have laws that dictate how soon a body must be preserved or retained. In certain instances, these regulations only apply if the body is infected with a contagious disease.

  1. Connecticut: Disposition of such body in Connecticut will always take place within a “reasonable time”.
  2. Delaware: In Delaware, the body must be disposed of within five days.
  3. Washington, District of Columbia: The body really should be disposed of in Washington DC within one week.
  4. Indiana: Disposition of the body in Indiana should indeed take place within a “reasonable time”.
  5. Montana: In Montana, a body that has died from a communicable disease should be handled even less than possible in a decent length of time.
  6. North Dakota: Within certain circumstances, North Dakota demands urgent disposition, and all dispositions should be completed within 8 days. Furthermore, refrigeration is not permitted as a technique of preservation in the state.
  7. Ohio: Bodies with infectious diseases should be cremated or laid to rest within 24 hours.
  8. Oregon: If a funeral home keeps a body for further than ten days in Oregon, the mortuary board should be notified.
Recommended:  Do You Need a License to Open a Funeral Home?

Major Reason Why Bodies Stay in a Funeral Home for a Long Time

  1. A significant close relative is unable to join the service. Family and friends who commute or live abroad might not have been fortunate enough to attend a funeral right away. If the funeral must be postponed for more than a few days or months, try and hold a burial ceremony immediately, followed by a memorial service. In that manner, everyone could be available for the sharing of memories while the dead person is buried in a dignified manner.
  2. People may decide to donate their bodies to scientific research. For this, arrangements must be made as soon as possible. The embalming procedure may vary from that of a conventional observation and burial.
  3. People may decide to contribute their body parts. Such a decision can be taken by a loved one, but that should not cause a lot of wait time. The body parts should be removed as soon as possible after death.
  4. If an individual’s demise was unusual or mysterious, autopsy reports are necessary. The body is extracted from the scene of death and transported to the medical examiner’s office for a post-mortem. The body is then returned to the funeral home, and the mechanism can resume.
  5. If the body isn’t really available immediately for embalming, for instance, if a soldier’s remnants are still missing. Within those instances, a funeral may be postponed for an undetermined duration. Besides that, if the death is certain, a prompt commemoration service will help start the process of healing.
Recommended:  15 Best Wireless Microphones for Funeral Home


Many bodies are kept in a funeral home for 3 to 7 days between the moment they pass away and the memorial service. Nevertheless, because there are so many activities that must be accomplished in this time span, the service may have to be deferred.

Whichever the reason, dealing with the body of a loved one ought to be the top priority. There will always be the possibility of future memorial ceremony gatherings.