Burial and Cremation Laws in Indiana
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Each state has laws regarding what happens to a person after death, such as embalming, burial, cremation, and scattering ashes. This post discusses Indiana’s laws on post-death arrangements.
First, you may want to obtain a death certificate for the decedent. The funeral director must file the death certificate with the local health officer in the jurisdiction where the death occurred. Indiana has an electronic death registry to help speed up this process. You can ask the person or organization that files the certificate to order them for you at the time of death.
If some time has passed after the death, you can contact the health department in the county where the death occurred or you can go to their website. From there, you can download a mail-in order form or order the death certificate online. You can obtain a death certificate if you can show that you have a direct interest in the death record and that the certificate is necessary for you to have. The first certified copy is $8 and additional copies are $4 each.
Then, you may want to consider arrangements for the decedent’s body. In Indiana, there are no laws requiring embalming or a casket for burial. Some cemeteries may have rules regarding the type of container, though. There are also no laws requiring a casket for cremation. Federal law requires that a funeral home or crematory inform you that you can use an alternative container and to make such containers available to you.
If you decide to use a casket, you do not have to buy it from the funeral home. Federal law requires that funeral homes accept caskets that individuals have purchased from another source or that are handmade. Bodies must be buried in established cemeteries. If you want to bury a body on private land outside of city limits, you may be able to establish a family cemetery. Check with your county or town clerk to see if this is possible.
If you choose cremation, you can keep the cremated remains or dispose of them in a number of ways. Some ways include:
Scattering ashes in an established scattering garden (like at a cemetery).
Scattering ashes on private land. You can scatter ashes on your own land, or must get permission from the landowner if it’s not your land.
Scattering ashes on public land. Check the city and county regulations and zoning rules before scattering.
Scattering ashes on federal land. You should request permission before doing so. Some national parks have guidelines for scattering ashes on their websites.
Scattering ashes at sea. Remains must be scattered at least three nautical miles from land. You cannot scatter ashes at beaches or in wading pools by the sea. You must notify the EPA within 30 days of scattering ashes.
Scattering ashes in inland waters such as rivers or lakes. You might be legally required to obtain a permit from the state agency that manages the waterway.
Scattering ashes by air.
A form documenting the disposition of ashes should be filed with the county recorder within ten days of placement or scattering.