Everything you need to know about funeral, cremation and other post-mortem matters in Georgia.
Every state has laws that affect what happens to a body after death. For example, most states regulate embalming, burial or cremation, scattering of ashes, and how to obtain a death certificate. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about these matters in Georgia.
- How do I get a death certificate in Georgia?
- Who can get a death certificate in Georgia?
- Who issues the death certificate in Georgia?
- Is embalming required in Georgia?
- Is a coffin required for burial or cremation in Georgia?
- Do I have to buy a coffin from a funeral home in Georgia?
- Is alkaline hydrolysis available in Georgia?
- Where can bodies be buried in Georgia?
- Where can we store or scatter ashes after cremation in Georgia?
- Learn more.
In Georgia, a death certificate must be submitted to the local health department within 72 hours. (Georgia-Code § 31-10-15(b).) Usually, the death certificate is prepared and filed by the funeral home, mortuary, cremation organization, or other person in charge of the remains of the deceased.
Obtaining copies of a death certificate may be necessary for a variety of reasons. You may simply want a copy for your personal records or, if you are responsible for handling the deceased person's affairs, you may need multiple official copies to carry out your work. You must submit a certified copy of the death certificate each time you are claiming property or benefits that belonged to the deceased, including life insurance proceeds, Social Security benefits,payable on death accounts, Benefits for Veterans and many others.
The easiest way to get copies of a death certificate is to ask the person or organization filing the death certificate to order it for you at the time of death. If you areexecutor, you should request at least ten certified copies.
If you need to order copies of a death certificate after the time of death has passed, visit the website of theGeorgia Department of Health. You can download an order form by mail or order death certificates online on the DPH website.
The first certified copy of a Georgia death certificate costs $25. Additional copies are $5 each.
In Georgia, the following may apply for a certified copy of a death certificate:
- immediate family members of the deceased
- a legal representative of the family, or
- a person who can demonstrate a direct and concrete interest in obtaining the certificate.
A copy of your ID must be attached to the application.
The physician responsible for treating the deceased for the disease or condition that led to death completes the medical certificate portion of the death certificate within 72 hours of death. If the doctor does not complete the certificate within 30 days, the funeral home may report the doctor to the Medical Board for disciplinary action.
If the death was due to influenza, it could be a Registered Nurse (RN) employed at a long-term care facility, an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN), a physician's assistant, a home health nurse, or a nursing supervisor employed at a hospital be pass the medical certificate.
If the cause of death cannot be determined within 48 hours of death, the doctor or coroner must notify the funeral home and state the reason for the delay. The corpse cannot be disposed of until the attending physician, coroner or medical examiner authorizes it.
When death does not appear to be due to natural causes or when an investigation is requiredGeorgia Death Investigation Actthe person designated by law must complete and sign the medical certificate within 30 days of receipt of the death notice.
Embalming is a process in which blood is drained from the body and replaced with fluids that delay decay. Although still a common procedure, embalming is rarely necessary; Cooling serves the same purpose. There are no laws or regulations in Georgia that require embalming.
A coffin is often the single largest expense after a death. The cost of a coffin can range from a simple $500 box to $20,000 or more for an elaborate design. Some people prefer not to have a coffin at all.
Burial.No law requires a coffin for burial. However, you should inquire at the cemetery; There may be rules that require a specific type of container.
Cremation.No law requires a coffin for cremation. To the contrary, federal law requires a funeral home or crematorium to inform you that you may use an alternative container and to provide you with such containers. An alternative container can be made of untreated wood, pressed wood, fiberboard or cardboard.
no Federal law requires funeral homes to accept caskets that consumers have purchased from another source, such as B. an online retailer. You can also build your own coffin if you wish.
Alkaline hydrolysis is a chemical process that reduces a body to components of fluid and bone. It is viewed as an alternative to cremation and is said to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to it, as alkaline hydrolysis uses less energy and releases no matter into the atmosphere.
In 2012, Georgia opened the door to alkaline hydrolysis when it changed the state definition of "cremation" to read:
"Cremation" means the reduction of the dead human body to residue by intense heat or any mechanical, chemical, thermal, or other method recognized in the art. Cremation also includes any other mechanical, chemical, thermal, or other professionally recognized process by which human remains are pulverized, burned, re-cremed, or otherwise further reduced in size or quantity.
Some funeral homes in Georgia promote "green" or "natural" burials, which generally refers to avoiding embalming a human body and using a biodegradable coffin or no coffin at all. While it may be technically legal, no Georgia facility has yet made alkaline hydrolysis available for human remains. However, there is oneAtlanta companythat offers this service for pets. To find an alkaline hydrolysis facility for a human body, you need to go to one of the few states where the process is both legal and open to the public, such as:Florida, Illinois, Maine or Minnesota.
Most bodies are buried in established cemeteries, but there are no state laws in Georgia prohibiting burial on private property. However, local governments may have rules for private burials. Before burying a body on private property or constructing a family cemetery, you should review county and city building codes.
Georgia has few laws governing where you can keep or scatter ashes. Ashes can be kept at home in a crypt, niche, tomb or container. If you want to scatter ashes, you have many options. Cremation renders the ashes harmless, so scattering the ashes poses no risk to public health. Use common sense and do not scatter ashes in places where they would be obvious to others. Georgian law requires the undertaker to obtain a permit before cremating a body or transporting it abroad. (Georgia-Code § 31-10-20.)
Ash spreading in an established litter garden.Many cemeteries provide gardens for ashes to be scattered. If you are interested, ask the cemetery for more information.
Scatter ashes on private property.You may scatter ashes on your own private property. If you wish to scatter ashes on someone else's private property, it is advisable to obtain permission from the landowner.
Scattering the ashes on public property.You may want to check both city and county ordinances and zoning rules before scattering ashes on local public lands such as: B. in a city park. However, many people just go about it as they wish and use their best judgment to guide them.
Ashes scattered on federal land.Officially, permission should be sought before scattering ashes on federal land. However, as with local or state land, if you conduct the dispersal ceremony calmly and keep the ashes off paths, roads, amenities, and waterways, you are unlikely to meet any resistance. Some national park websites have guidelines for scattering ashes. For more information, start your search on the website ofNational Park Service.
Scatter ashes in the sea.According to Georgian law, if you wish to scatter ashes at sea, you must do so within 50 days of the cremation. You must also file a statement with the name of the deceased at the local health department. (Georgia-Code § 31-21-4(a)(2).)
In addition, both Georgia state and federal clean water statutes require cremated remains to be scattered at least three nautical miles offshore, and state law requires you to remove the ashes from their container before scattering. (SeeGeorgia-Code § 31-21-4(a)(1).) The EPA does not permit sprinkling on beaches or in oceanfront paddling pools. Finally, you must notify the EPA of scattering ashes at sea within 30 days.
The Clean Water Act also regulates littering in inland waters such as rivers or lakes. For inland waterway burial, you may need to obtain a permit from the state agency that manages the waterway.
For more information, including contact information for the EPO representative in Georgia, go toBurial of human remains at seaon the EPA website.
Scatter ashes through the air.Although there are no state laws on the subject, federal aviation laws prohibit dropping anything that could cause harm to people or property. The US government does not consider cremains to be hazardous material; All should be fine as long as you remove the ashes from their container before scattering them.
To learn more about the Federal Funeral Rule, which protects consumers in every state, visit theFederal Trade Commission.
For more information on funeral laws in Georgia, seeFuneral arrangements in Georgia.
To learn more about funerals and other final arrangements, see thePut your affairs in orderSection of Nolo.com.
Get it together, by Melanie Cullen (Nolo) helps you gather and organize the essential details of your life for you and your family.
Georgia has a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a cremation can be performed. This is standard practice, and a cremation authorization form must be signed by the immediate next of kin to enable the cremation permit to be issued.What is the burial law in Georgia? ›
Can You Bury a Body at Home in Georgia? There are no state laws in Georgia prohibiting home burial, but local governments may have rules governing private burials. Bibb County, for example, requires all human remains to be buried in authorized cemeteries inside "leak-proof" caskets or vaults.What is the order of next of kin in Georgia? ›
The parents if there is no spouse or children, descendants of deceased children, grandchildren, etc. If no spouse, children, descendants of children, or parents survived the decedent, the brothers and sisters of the decedent and the descendants of any deceased brother or sister who predeceased the decedent.Can I bury someone on my property in Georgia? ›
Most bodies are buried in established cemeteries, but there are no state laws in Georgia that prohibit burial on private property.What is the average cost of cremation in GA? ›
In Georgia, a direct cremation costs $800 on average, but the exact amount varies between funeral homes. The difference is usually down to the services included in the pricing. That said, the average direct cremation includes: Transporting your loved one.Are bodies cremated in a casket? ›
When a person's remains are cremated, the body must be placed in a rigid container that is entirely combustible. While this container can be a traditional casket, it does not have to be. Generally, the only requirement is that it cannot have any metal parts.Will the state of Georgia pay for cremation? ›
The laws of both the State of Georgia and the federal government cover embalming, cremation and fee disclosure by funeral service providers.How much does a funeral and burial cost in Georgia? ›
Funeral Costs in Georgia.
|Product||Average Cost||Price Range|
|Direct burial||$3,375||$2,250 - $4,500|
- Duly accomplished Application Form for Funeral Benefit.
- Death Certificate of member issued by LCR OR PSA.
- If claimant is not a GSIS member, Birth Certificate issued by LCR or PSA or two valid government issued IDs with date of birth and signature.
- Death Certificate of legal spouse issued by LCR OR PSA if married.
In Georgia, if you die without a will, any assets leftover after your debts are paid off will go to your living relatives. If you have no living relatives, then any assets will go to the state. The law sets out which relatives will inherit your estate. If you have a spouse and/or kids, your whole estate goes to them.
Under Georgia law, when the person passes away, the financial power of attorney immediately ends. When the person passes away, the will of the deceased or Georgia law for intestacy (which is a situation where there is no will) would then take over.Who becomes next of kin when someone dies? ›
The term usually means your nearest blood relative. In the case of a married couple or a civil partnership it usually means their husband or wife. Next of kin is a title that can be given, by you, to anyone from your partner to blood relatives and even friends.Is spreading ashes legal in Georgia? ›
Private Land - in Georgia, along with many other states, you're permitted to scatter a loved one's ashes on private property that you own or on the private property of somebody else with their permission.Can I be buried without a casket? ›
Caskets and The Law
No state law requires use of a casket for burial or cremation. If a burial vault is being used, there is no inherent requirement to use a casket. A person can be directly interred in the earth, in a shroud, or in a vault without a casket.
Burial vaults and grave liners are not required by state law. Embalming is not legally required in Georgia. Refrigeration generally serves the same purpose. Direct cremation or burial does not require any form of preservation.What is the cheapest way to be cremated? ›
A direct cremation is generally the lowest-cost method of disposition. A direct cremation is when the deceased is immediately cremated, with no service, and the cremated remains are directly returned to the family or scattered.Why is cremation cheaper than burial? ›
First of all, cremations are known to be much more cost-effective as there are no gravesite fees, caskets, cemetery fees, or headstones involved. Second of all, cremations are better for the environment as there is no land needed and no space required.What is the cheapest way to be buried or cremated? ›
Direct cremation is the least expensive way to bury your loves one. It is done respectfully, and gives your and your family time to find the most personal and affordable burial option.Are you cremated with clothes on? ›
Are you clothed when you are cremated? Cremation of a body can be done with or without clothing. Typically, if there has been a traditional funeral (with the body) present, the deceased will be cremated in whatever clothing they were wearing.Which part of human body does not burn in fire? ›
The bones of the body do not burn in fire. Why do the bones not burn in fire? For the burning of bone, a very high temperature of 1292 degrees Fahrenheit is required. At this temperature also, the calcium phosphate from which the bones are made will not entirely turn into ash.
The only parts of the body that are removed before cremation are artificial ones like a medical device or implant with a battery, silicone, pins, radiation pressurization, pacemakers, and large hip, knee, and shoulder replacements along with any external jewelry.How do I get help with cremation costs in GA? ›
To obtain assistance with an indigent or pauper's burial or cremation, contact the Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) for the county where the deceased resided and to be directed to the Indigent Burial Department.How long does cremation take in Georgia? ›
For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees F to 2,000 degrees F.Can I be buried in my backyard? ›
Yes, providing you have followed all the legal procedures for registering the death, a person can be buried at home or on private land. There are other things that you should consider however, such as what happens if the property is sold, and making sure the location and ground conditions are suitable.What happens if you can't afford a funeral in Georgia? ›
Funeral Assistance: GA DFCS in each county (159) may provide funeral assistance based on eligibility within the low-income and vulnerable population. Funeral assistance is available depending on resources available within a sliding scale and the DFCS client's needs.How much is a casket in Georgia? ›
An average casket costs around $2,500 – $3,000, but you can spend $10,000 or more for an upscale one, or you can purchase a standard metal casket for as little as $995.Who is legally responsible for arranging a funeral? ›
The people named in the deceased's will as their executors (or, if the deceased didn't make a will, their nearest relatives) are primarily responsible for arranging their funeral.Does social security cover burial? ›
Does Medicare or Social Security Pay for Funeral Expenses? The short answer to this question is no; they don't. Medicare covers medical care, which ends when you die. Medicare doesn't have a death benefit either, but Social Security does offer survivor benefits.Can Social Security benefits be used for burial expenses? ›
Yes, but not a lot. In the event of a death, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays a small grant to eligible survivors of some beneficiaries to help with funeral costs. This is referred to as The Lump-Sum Death Benefit. As of March 2021, this amount was set by law at $255 for SSI recipients.Who is entitled to Social Security burial benefits? ›
If living apart and they were receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased's record, they may be eligible for the lump-sum death payment. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death.
If a bank account has no joint owner or designated beneficiary, it will likely have to go through probate. The account funds will then be distributed—after all creditors of the estate are paid off—according to the terms of the will.Does Georgia require probate? ›
Probate isn't always required in Georgia. It is necessary by law if the assets belonged solely to the deceased person with no named beneficiary or with the estate as the named beneficiary. If the assets were included in a revocable living trust, probate won't be necessary.What assets are exempt from probate in Georgia? ›
Any asset that names a beneficiary directly avoids probate. Assets might include the proceeds from a life insurance policy, IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts that name a beneficiary. Payable-on-death or Transferable-on-death accounts, such as bank accounts or securities.Where does my money go if I don't have a will? ›
If there is no surviving partner, the children of a person who has died without leaving a will inherit the whole estate. This applies however much the estate is worth. If there are two or more children, the estate will be divided equally between them.Do you need a lawyer when someone dies? ›
Many executors and administrators act without a solicitor. However, if the estate is complicated, it is best to get legal advice. You should always get legal advice if, for example: the terms of a will are not clear.How long does probate take in Georgia without a will? ›
It is also dependent on how quickly that court can evaluate the estate and issue a ruling on the case. That said, the probate process in Georgia can be expected to take anywhere from at least about six months to as much as a few years.What should you not do when someone dies? ›
- 1 – DO NOT tell their bank. ...
- 2 – DO NOT wait to call Social Security. ...
- 3 – DO NOT wait to call their Pension. ...
- 4 – DO NOT tell the utility companies. ...
- 5 – DO NOT give away or promise any items to loved ones. ...
- 6 – DO NOT sell any of their personal assets. ...
- 7 – DO NOT drive their vehicles.
There is a hierarchy which determines who is deemed closest to you as “next of kin.” Your spouse or civil partner comes first, then your children, then your parents, siblings, grandparents in that order.Does the oldest child inherit everything? ›
Primogeniture (/ˌpraɪm-ə-/ also /-oʊ-ˈdʒɛnɪtʃər/) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit the parent's entire or main estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative.What is the average cost of cremation in Georgia? ›
Cost of direct cremation
In Georgia, a direct cremation costs $800 on average, but the exact amount varies between funeral homes. The difference is usually down to the services included in the pricing.
Human ashes are like sand and they do not float. They will not dissolve in the water; instead, they will descend into the ocean until they hit the floor.Can you be buried on your own property in Georgia? ›
Where can bodies be buried in Georgia? Most bodies are buried in established cemeteries, but there are no state laws in Georgia that prohibit burial on private property. Local governments may have rules governing private burials, however.Why does a casket have to be buried 6 feet under? ›
Therefore, graves were always dug six feet deep to prevent body snatchers from gaining access to the buried remains. Another issue that people were worried about was animals digging up graves. An ancient practice of burying dead people six feet underground may have helped mask the odor of decay from predators.Can you have an open casket if you are not embalmed? ›
It's absolutely possible to spend time visiting someone or have an open coffin at the funeral when the person hasn't been embalmed. We've done this many times and the person will be just as well cared for and should look peaceful.Is there a difference between a coffin and a casket? ›
a coffin and a casket? The difference is basically one of design. Coffins are tapered at the head and foot and are wide at the shoulders. Caskets are rectangular in shape and are usually constructed of better quality timbers and feature higher standards of workmanship.Who is considered next of kin in Georgia? ›
The parents if there is no spouse or children, descendants of deceased children, grandchildren, etc. If no spouse, children, descendants of children, or parents survived the decedent, the brothers and sisters of the decedent and the descendants of any deceased brother or sister who predeceased the decedent.Is it legal to spread human ashes in Georgia? ›
Private Land - in Georgia, along with many other states, you're permitted to scatter a loved one's ashes on private property that you own or on the private property of somebody else with their permission.Who legally owns cremated ashes? ›
The person entitled to possession of the body is the person who is under a duty to dispose of the body. A crematorium authority must hand over the ashes to the person who delivered the body for cremation.Can someone be cremated without a funeral? ›
A direct cremation involves no funeral service. There is no viewing of the deceased or farewell ceremony conducted. Usually, there are no mourners present, although you can be present for the committal if you wish. No expensive coffin is required for direct cremation services.How much does a burial cost in GA? ›
Funeral Costs in Georgia.
|Product||Average Cost||Price Range|
|Direct cremation||$2,000||$995 - $3,000|
|Direct burial||$3,375||$2,250 - $4,500|
What happens to ashes scattered at sea? Human ashes are like sand and they do not float. They will not dissolve in the water; instead, they will descend into the ocean until they hit the floor.Where can you not scatter ashes? ›
Public parks and gardens
Auckland's regional parks, the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa and Parnell Rose Gardens have prohibited the scattering of ashes in their parks and gardens. Ash scattering is also discouraged in local parks and on sports fields, where visitors picnic, exercise and relax.
For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees F to 2,000 degrees F.Can you scatter ashes on a grave without permission? ›
Scattering ashes on a family grave or in a cemetery
Not all cemeteries allow scattering ashes, so check with the cemetery directly for their rules. If you own a plot of land in the cemetery, you should be able to scatter ashes over a family grave. Your funeral director can help you to make these arrangements.
What you need to know is that it's possible to divide the ashes into more than one urn, and you can get the funeral home to help with this request. For more information on cremation, pre-planning services, or advice, contact Tindall Funeral Home at (315) 468-5521.Can cremated ashes be buried anywhere? ›
Interment of ashes refers to burying cremated remains into the ground or placing an urn into a columbarium. In the United States, you can legally bury or inter ashes in a wide variety of locations, including cemeteries, wilderness areas, private land, or in the sea.How soon after death can you be cremated? ›
In most cases, you will have to wait somewhere between 24 and 72 hours after death before a body can be cremated. Certain paperwork is required and may take several business days to obtain.Can you go straight to cremation? ›
A direct cremation is a cremation with no funeral service, no ceremony performed beforehand, and no attendees. The ashes are returned to the family to do with as they wish. Direct cremation is often the cheapest option offered by funeral directors.What is a funeral called when no one attends? ›
What is an unattended funeral? An unattended funeral is a funeral that isn't witnessed by the family and friends of the person who died. Instead, the cremation or burial takes place privately at the crematorium or burial ground.