The Dreaded Paperwork


Plan ahead and be prepared Printable Version (Adobe PDF) | Printable Version (Microsoft Word Document)

These instructions apply to the State of Maine. For other states, look at Lisa Carlson and Josh Slocum’s book “Final Rights” (Upper Access Books, 2011). Individual state chapters may be purchased for $5 at this address.  Also, look at the Funeral Consumers Alliance website(www.funerals.org) for contact information for the local affiliate and much more helpful information.

The paperwork can be the most difficult part of a home funeral, but only if you haven’t prepared yourself. Here’s help:

In order to give you or other family members more time with the dying person, it can be helpful to enlist a dedicated friend to handle these responsibilities. If so, that person should be designated as the “Authorized Person” by a document signed by the dying person or the next of kin. See sample forms at the bottom of this page. The form must be notarized.

Things will go more smoothly if the Next-of-Kin or Authorized Person contacts the medical professional who will be called when death occurs and the officials listed below, to inform them of your intentions. Many may not be familiar with home funerals, so advance notice will give them time to prepare.

The officials you will need to see are:

  • The Medical Examiner, unless the body is to be buried. To find contact information for a medical examiner in your area, call the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at (207) 624-7185. Have a list of more than one Medical Examiner in your area, and find out their office hours and availability on weekends and holidays.
  • The Clerk of the municipality in the place of death.
  • Cemetery Official or Crematory Director.

These are the forms you need to have:

1) Certificate of Death  

Maine’s death certificate is not a form that is available to the general public.  For security purposes, the death form is only available on restricted websites to medical certifiers, funeral directors, and municipal clerks who register with Data, Research, and Vital Statistics.  When a person handling a home funeral needs a blank death certificate, they can get one from the municipality at the place of death, from the medical person certifying the death or from the Vital Records office.   The phone number for the Vital Records office is  (207) 287-5500.

To fill out the Certificate of Death, you’ll need to know:

Full name.
Date of death.
Sex.
Social Security number.
Age on last birthday.
Date of birth.
Birthplace.
Was decedent ever in the US Armed Forces?
Place of death.
Marital Status.
Name of most recent spouse.
Decedent’s usual occupation (do not use “retired”).
The kind of business/industry.
Education.
Ancestry (you can use “American”).
Race.
Residence (state, county, city or town, street and number).
Full name of the decedent’s father and mother’s maiden name.

They are very picky about this form. Every box must be filled in – typed or in black ink! Any box which does not apply or where the information is not available must be filled in with NA or N/A. If you make a mistake, use correction tape or start over. White-out or cross-outs are not acceptable.

The Next-of-Kin or Authorized Person fills in boxes 28 through 32. Enter NA in boxes 31b and 32b. A physician (or a physicians assistant or nurse practitioner, who has knowledge of the deceased’s recent medical history or were in charge of the decedent’s care) must complete the remainder of the death certificate. If the paperwork is being done without a funeral director, box 35 must be checked “YES” certifying that the physician (or PA or Nurse Practitioner) viewed the body after death. Make a photocopy of the completed form for your records.

2) Medical Examiner’s Release of Human Remains:  (pdf copy available here)
This form is not needed if the body is to be buried. It is required only when the body is to be cremated, donated, buried at sea, or shipped out of state. This form has only four boxes for you to fill in. In order to sign the form, the medical examiner will need the death certificate (number 1 above) which has been completed, except for the “Registrar’s Signature.” There is a $15 charge for this form, payable to the Medical Examiner.

Take the completed form(s) with copies to the town or city clerk’s office in the place of death. The clerk will print the certified Death Certificates. You will need multiple copies – for banks, insurance companies, Social Security, veteran’s benefits, etc. Experienced people suggest that you send a copy to the three credit report companies (Experian, Equifax and Transunion). In this initial request, the first copy will cost $15, additional ones $6 each. Get as many as you need, as when requesting copies later, the first will cost $15, others $6.

The clerk will also issue the other form you need:

3) Permit for the Disposition of Human Remains:  (pdf copy available here)
The municipal clerk’s office will have copies of this form. There are only nine boxes to fill in. The clerk will sign the form and keep a copy. This form gives you official permission to transport a body. You’ll need three copies. An official person at the disposition location (cemetery, crematory, etc.) will sign the forms and keep a copy. Within seven days, you must return a copy of the completed form to the clerk’s office where you got it. The third copy is for your records.

See? That’s not hard!

State regulation about transporting a body: “Dead bodies shall be transported in private vehicles only by authorized persons and shall be enclosed in a suitable container made for that purpose which shall be concealed from public view.”

 

 

 


Sample Authorization Forms.  Filling out one of these forms authorizes someone other than the next-of-kin to make the arrangements and do the paperwork.


This is the form for a person, in anticipation of death, who has no immediate family members able and available to make final arrangements. Copy and paste this sample into a Word document or download this document.

AUTHORIZATION

Having no members of my immediate family to handle the final arrangements after my death, I hereby authorize (name and address of person) to make all necessary arrangements for my final disposition (i.e. burial, donation or cremation) after my death.

(Date of authorization)_____________________

(Signature of authorizer)____________________________________________________

(Date) State of Maine

County of __________

The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this date by (signature of authorizer).

(Signature of Notary)_____________________________________________________________

 

 

 

This is the form for use by a member of the immediate family of the person for whom final arrangements are to be made. Copy and paste this sample into a Word document or download this document.

AUTHORIZATION

As a member of the immediate family of (name of person), I hereby authorize (name and address of person authorized to make arrangements) to act on my behalf in making all necessary arrangements for the final disposition (i.e. burial, donation or cremation) of said (name of person). I certify that neither I nor any other member of the immediate family of (name of person) is willing to assume this responsibility. (Date of authorization)_____________________

(Signature of authorizer)____________________________________________________

(Date) State of Maine

County of __________

The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this date by (signature of authorizer).

(Signature of Notary)_____________________________________________________________