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Funerals/requirements for burial


Hello, is there a state statute in Oklahoma that requires you to be buried in a casket and have a vault.  i know that there is no statute for embalming, but i can not find one on this issue.  I had a disagreement with a friend and he said that the oklahoma funeral home where he had his mother taken to showed him a state law requireing a casket and vault for burial.  I believe this to be wrong. Is there a minimum or maxium requirement for what you have to be buried in.?  

Thank you for your time

I, like you, am unable to find any state statutes that require burial in either a casket or a vault in Oklahoma.

Further, it is patently illegal - and in violation of the FTC Funeral Rule - for a funeral home to lie to a customer and say that items are required by law when they are not. If your friend can prove the funeral home required this, especially if they kept a copy of the document they were shown, they may be able to use an attorney to sue for the cost of the products they were required to purchase under false pretenses, as well as damages.

Details do matter, however - the funeral home may require the use of a casket in order to provide services (understandable, for consideration of workers); the Funeral Rule requires that funeral homes accept caskets provided by the family without charge, so they could have provided their own or not used the funeral home's services.

The cemetery may have required the vault, in which case your friend could have gone to a different cemetery if they didn't want to buy a vault (finding a vault-free site for burial takes some work, but many rural, Pioneer, or county cemeteries offer vault-free options).

If the plot was already purchased, however, the mother probably signed a contract agreeing to the purchase of a vault, and in order to use that grave the vault would be required. Purchasing it from the funeral home or the cemetery may have been a choice, however, as proceeds from the vault are used to maintain the cemetery, so if your friend was told they had to buy the vault from the funeral home instead of the cemetery, that, too, may have been a misrepresentation, depending on the State law at the time and the specific circumstances.

The funeral home is not required to inform the family of these details, but due diligence in hiring a funeral provider is as important as that of hiring any other professional contractor.

For action against funeral homes who break the law, your friend can either complain to the Oklahoma Funeral Board - - or contact the Funeral Consumers' Alliance (, a consumer protection organization that works on behalf of consumers defrauded by funeral directors.

My opinion: I think you're right.


PS - I am not a licensed attorney and so any actions taken as a result of my thoughts should be verified by qualified licensees.


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Cynthia Beal


Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.


Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Cemetery Association of Oregon. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and over a decade of running the Natural Burial Company, founded in 2004. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions, and I own two historic cemeteries the feature natural burial, based in Oregon.

ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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