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Funerals/Responsibility of funeral expenses


Dear Lisa,

Who is responsible for burial expenses in Missouri when the deceased is a ward of the state?  My mother has been under state guardianship because of mental illness for several years.  She passed last night and my siblings and I are being told that her family must pay for the this correct information?

Thank you so much for your help.

I don't know how the state could enforce that. A couple of states do have laws with such a requirement, but I don't remember finding that in Missouri.

That said, a simple solution might be to donate her body for medical research. There would be no cost to you. There is a list of nonacademic programs here-- Even those out of state will pay to fly the body there. The in-state medical schools require that you pay for transportation. Some require prior enrollment. Not so with the first list I just gave you.

If body donation isn't acceptable, there may be county funds to help but they'll be minimal if at all.


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Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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