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Funerals/Indiana funeral laws


QUESTION: I'm a new Death Midwife wanting to practice in Indianapolis, Indiana. I don't know where to start to get these laws and have been told they are very confusing. I don't want to get any family or myself in legal trouble, so where do I start?  Where can I get your book on funeral law by state?
Thanks, Sally

ANSWER: You can get the Indiana chapter from the Bookstore at for only $5.

You say you're a "death midwife." Exactly what are you planning to do? Are you giving your services for free or charging?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I want to charge for the service of helping the families with vigils, paperwork, home funeral and hopefully, a green burial.

In Indiana, the burial transit permit may be issued only to a funeral director once the death certificate is filed. With electronic death registration, there is essentially no "paperwork" for the family or a home funeral guide to do.

Burial must be in an established cemetery in Indiana. I don't know how many are setting aside areas for vault-less (green) burials. You'll have to call around to see.

As I wrote earlier, any hands-on help is a violation of the licensing laws. Fine to educate families which Josh and I do for free over the phone all the time.


Where did you get your training? Have you volunteered for hospice so you have some actual experience?

You may not be pleased with what I have to say, but hope you'll think about my concerns --


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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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