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Legal requirements when a death occurs

1. Contact local law enforcement official if the death is unattended.

2. A determination of death must be made by a coroner, Justice of the Peace, or attending physician.

3. When a death occurs out of state or country it is recommended a funeral director in your local area be contacted who will know the requirements that must be met if a body is to be shipped to another location.

4. There are legal limitations regarding solicitation by a funeral director at or near the time of death.  Solicitation means any direct or indirect contact with the family, next of kin, or one who has custody of a person who is deceased or near death for the purpose of securing the right to provide funeral services or merchandise for the deceased or person near death.

What to do when a death occurs

1. Contact relatives.

2. Locate deceased’s letter of direction, prepaid
funeral contract, insurance policy and/or will.

Prior to filing a death certificate, you will need the following information:

♦ Full name of deceased
♦ Occupation
♦ Date of birth
♦ Place of birth
♦ Social security number
♦ Residence address
♦ Spouse’s name (maiden name)
♦ Father’s name, mother’s maiden name
♦ Place of burial or disposition
♦ Discharge papers, if veteran

Steps to take to ease the burden of funeral planning
prior to death

1. Advise your family and loved ones of your wishes,
by recording your wishes.

2. You may prearrange your service with your funeral director.

3. A spouse, next of kin or legal representative generally can make arrangements for disposition of
the deceased.

Available methods of disposition:

Human remains can be buried, entombed, cremated, or donated for scientific study.

A family can bury its own dead without using a
licensed funeral director

A statement of death and a death certificate are legally
required. Generally, local ordinances or deed restrictions prohibit private burials within city limits.

Check with the State Health Department and local
zoning authorities for applicable laws.

A body cannot be cremated immediately following death without a waiver

Georgia law prohibits cremating any dead human body
within 48 hours after death. The County Medical   Examiner or a Justice of the Peace may waive this time requirement.

Cremated remains may be disposed of or kept in a
number of ways:
♦ Privately scattered
♦ Interred in a cemetery
♦ Placed in a niche in a columbarium
♦ Kept by the family in their home

How to donate remains

Donation of human bodies to medical facilities can be  made either directly to the facility, through a funeral establishment or by contacting the:

Emory University School of Medicine
Department of Cell Biolog, Body Donor Program  |  PO Drawer AR | 1648 Pierce Drive | Atlanta, GA 30322-0001

Georgia Campus
Philadephia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Body Donor Program, Department of Anatomy  |  625 Old Peachtree Road  |  Suwannee, GA 30024

Medical College of Georgia
1120 15 Street |  Department of Anatomy    | Augusta, GA 30912-2000

Mercer University School of Medicine
Anatomical Donation Program  |  1550 College Street  |  Macon GA 31207

Morehouse School of Medicine
720 Westview Drive SW    |   Atlanta, Georgia 30310

There is a set fee for donations, which is paid by the
Anatomical Board. However, this may not cover the cost of any additional services selected that are provided by the funeral home.

You can change your mind about donating your
body or your organs

Prior to death, a person can revoke his or her donation
by destroying or canceling the instructions or by alternate instructions to the next of kin or the person designated in the written instructions.

Embalming and its purpose

Embalming is the use of chemicals, internally and
externally, to disinfect and temporarily preserve the body.

Georgia law does not require embalming. Most common
carriers will require a body to be embalmed prior to shipping. The laws of the destination country or state will apply. Because of the rapid deterioration of a body after death, Georgia law requires that bodies held for over 24 hours or in transit must be embalmed, refrigerated, or encased in a leak and odor proof container.

How to select a funeral director

If you need a funeral director, the reference of a relative
or friend who has been served satisfactorily is one way to make a decision. The best way to know in advance whom you would select is to visit the funeral home, examine the facilities and ask about prices. Consider all alternatives and consult several different firms/organizations to compare costs. Be prepared to ask questions concerning all aspects of the funeral arrangements.

How to learn about funeral costs

Funeral establishments are required to give current retail price information by telephone. By law, any consumer entering an establishment and making inquiries must be presented a general price list, which the customer may keep, itemizing the costs of funeral services and the merchandise for sale from a funeral director. These retail prices, appearing on a printed or typewritten list must specify at least the charges for the following items, provided they are available for purchase through the establishment:

1. Forwarding or receiving remains, to or from another funeral home and a list of services provided for the stated price

2. The price range for direct cremations

3. The price range for immediate burial

4. Embalming

5. Other preparation of the body

6. Use of facilities and staff for viewing, funeral
ceremony, memorial service, and/or graveside

7. Hearses

8. Limousines

9. Caskets

10. Outer burial containers, such as vaults, grave
liners, and boxes. Such outer enclosures are not
required by law, but may be required by the cemetery

Additionally, the general price list must include the following:

1. Name, address and phone number of the
2. The effective date of the price list.
3. Notice stating: “You may choose only the items you desire. If you are charged for items that you
did not specifically request, we will explain the reason for the charges on the written memorandum. Please note that there may be  charges for items such as cemetery fees, flowers and newspaper notices.”

After completing all funeral arrangements, you must be given a written funeral purchase agreement, signed by the funeral director who assisted you, which lists the items you selected from the general price list and the cost of each item.

The price of each casket must be stated and varies depending on the type. Caskets are not  required by law, however, there may be cemetery or mausoleum restrictions regarding caskets and outer burial containers or vaults. The law does not require a casket for cremation but some type of container such as a cardboard box or canvas pouch is usually required by the crematory.

Caskets are constructed from various materials
including steel, copper, bronze, and wood. There is no direct relationship between the protective features of the casket and the preservation of the body.  

Requirements regarding advertising by funeral directors

Consumer protection statutes require all advertising to be factual and clear in content. Any misrepresentations should be reported to the Georgia Department, the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, or your local Better Business Bureau

Juanita Harrell, Owner

Juanita Harrell, Owner Of West Georgia Mortuary says that her goal is to offer a new concept in funeral service.  Ms. Harrell, a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer has over 40 years of both management and operation experience in Atlanta, South Georgia, and the West Georgia Area.  Read More....

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West Georgia Mortuary  |   1408 Hamilton Road   |   LaGrange, Georgia    |  Phone: 706-884-1092
email:  info@westgeorgiamortuary.com