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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 18 : Health

Chapter 107 : DEATHS, BURIALS, AUTOPSIES

Subchapter 003 : RIGHTS OF FAMILY MEMBERS, OTHER INTERESTED PERSONS, FUNERAL DIRECTORS, AND OPERATORS OF DISPOSITION FACILITIES [EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2023]

(Cite as: 18 V.S.A. § 5227)
  • § 5227. Right to disposition

    (a) If there is no written directive of the decedent, in the following order of priority, one or more competent adults shall have the right to determine the disposition of the remains of a decedent, including the location, manner, and conditions of disposition and arrangements for funeral goods and services:

    (1) an individual appointed to arrange for the disposition of decedent’s remains pursuant to chapter 231 (advance directives) of this title;

    (2) a surviving spouse of the decedent;

    (3) a sole surviving child of the decedent or a majority of the surviving children, except as provided for in subdivision (b)(1) of this section, provided that if the child is a minor, his or her interest may only be effected by a legal guardian appointed by the Probate Division of the Superior Court;

    (4) in the case of a minor or a disabled adult, the custodial parent or the parent who had been providing the primary physical care of the decedent; or, if not applicable, a sole surviving parent, or both parents, of the decedent; or either parent as provided for in subdivision (b)(2) of this section;

    (5) a sole surviving sibling of the decedent or a majority of the surviving siblings, except as provided for in subdivision (b)(3) of this section;

    (6) any other family member, in descending order of kinship under the laws of descent and distribution, except that if there is more than one family member of the same degree of relation, a majority of family members of that degree, except as provided in subdivision (b)(4) of this section, may exercise the right of disposition;

    (7) a guardian of the decedent at the time of death;

    (8) any other individual willing to assume the responsibilities to act and arrange the final disposition of the decedent’s remains, including the representative of the decedent’s estate, after attesting in writing that a good faith but unsuccessful effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (7) of this subsection or that those individuals have waived any interest in exercising their rights under this subchapter;

    [Subdivision (a)(9) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (a)(9) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (9) the funeral director or crematory operator with custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection; or

    [Subdivision (a)(9) effective January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (a)(9) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (9) the funeral director or disposition facility operator with custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection; or

    (10) the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner when it has jurisdiction and custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection.

    (b)(1) If there is more than one surviving child of the decedent and a majority of the children is unable to be contacted, less than a majority of the surviving children may make the decisions if they have made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact all other surviving children and prompt efforts to notify them of the proposed decisions, and do not know of any opposition to those decisions.

    (2) If one parent is unable to be contacted, the remaining parent may make the decisions if that parent has made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact the other parent and is not aware of any opposition by the other parent to those decisions.

    (3) If there is more than one surviving sibling of the decedent and a majority of the siblings is unable to be contacted, less than a majority of the surviving siblings may make the decisions if they have made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact all other surviving siblings and prompt efforts to notify them of the proposed decisions, and do not know of any opposition to those decisions.

    (4) If there is more than one family member in the highest applicable order of kinship under the laws of descent and distribution and a majority of these family members is unable to be contacted, less than a majority of the surviving family members in this order may make the decisions if they have made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact all other surviving family members in this order and prompt efforts to notify them of the proposed decisions, and do not know of any opposition to those decisions.

    [Subsection (c) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subsection (c) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (c)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(9) of this section and the funeral director or crematory operator has cremated the remains, the funeral director or crematory operator shall retain the remains for three years and, if no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the funeral director or crematory operator shall arrange for the final disposition of the cremated remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    (2) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (1) of this subsection to the contrary, a funeral director or crematory operator may determine that the unclaimed cremated remains of a deceased veteran shall be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 1586 if:

    (A) at least 180 days have passed since the funeral director or crematory operator cremated the remains;

    (B) the funeral director or crematory operator either:

    (i) has actual knowledge that there is no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section to claim the decedent’s remains; or

    (ii) after making reasonable efforts, has been unable to locate and contact any known interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section; and

    (C) the funeral director or crematory operator has confirmed with the Office of Veterans Affairs that the deceased veteran is eligible to be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

    [Subsection (c) effective January 1, 2023; see also subsection (c) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (c)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(9) of this section and the funeral director or disposition facility operator has cremated or processed the remains, as applicable, the funeral director or disposition facility operator shall retain the remains for three years and, if no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the funeral director or disposition facility operator shall arrange for the permanent disposition of the remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    (2) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (1) of this subsection to the contrary, a funeral director or disposition facility operator may determine that the unclaimed remains of a deceased veteran shall be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 1586 if:

    (A) at least 180 days have passed since the funeral director or disposition facility operator cremated or processed the remains;

    (B) the funeral director or disposition facility operator either:

    (i) has actual knowledge that there is no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section to claim the decedent’s remains; or

    (ii) after making reasonable efforts, has been unable to locate and contact any known interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section; and

    (C) the funeral director or disposition facility operator has confirmed with the Office of Veterans Affairs that the deceased veteran is eligible to be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

    [Subdivision (d)(1) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(1) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (d)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(10) of this section, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may contract with a funeral director or crematory operator to cremate the remains of the decedent.

    [Subdivision (d)(1) effective January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(1) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (d)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(10) of this section, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may contract with a funeral director or disposition facility operator to cremate the remains of the decedent.

    (2)(A) If the cremation of the decedent is arranged and paid for under 33 V.S.A. § 2301, the Department for Children and Families shall pay the cremation expenses to the funeral home, up to the maximum payment permitted by rule by the Department for Children and Families.

    (B) If the cremation of the decedent is not arranged and paid for under 33 V.S.A. § 2301, the Department of Health shall pay the cremation expenses to the funeral home, up to the maximum payment permitted by rule by the Department for Children and Families.

    [Subdivision (d)(3) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(3) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (3) The cremated remains shall be returned to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Office shall retain the remains for three years, and if no interested party, as described in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section, claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the Office shall arrange for the final disposition of the cremated remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    [Subdivision (d)(3) effective January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(3) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (3) The cremated remains shall be returned to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Office shall retain the remains for three years, and if no interested party, as described in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section, claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the Office shall arrange for the permanent disposition of the cremated remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    (4) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (3) of this subsection to the contrary, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may determine that the unclaimed cremated remains of a deceased veteran shall be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 1586 if:

    (A) at least 180 days have passed since the remains were cremated;

    (B) the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner either:

    (i) has actual knowledge that there is no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section to claim the decedent’s remains; or

    (ii) after making reasonable efforts, has been unable to locate and contact any known interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section; and

    (C) the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed with the Office of Veterans Affairs that the deceased veteran is eligible to be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery. (Added 2007, No. 56, § 1; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238a, eff. Feb. 1, 2011; 2013, No. 32, § 2; 2015, No. 23, § 45; 2019, No. 9, § 2 eff. April 23, 2019; 2021, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. January 1, 2023.)

  • § 5227. Right to disposition

    (a) If there is no written directive of the decedent, in the following order of priority, one or more competent adults shall have the right to determine the disposition of the remains of a decedent, including the location, manner, and conditions of disposition and arrangements for funeral goods and services:

    (1) an individual appointed to arrange for the disposition of decedent’s remains pursuant to chapter 231 (advance directives) of this title;

    (2) a surviving spouse of the decedent;

    (3) a sole surviving child of the decedent or a majority of the surviving children, except as provided for in subdivision (b)(1) of this section, provided that if the child is a minor, his or her interest may only be effected by a legal guardian appointed by the Probate Division of the Superior Court;

    (4) in the case of a minor or a disabled adult, the custodial parent or the parent who had been providing the primary physical care of the decedent; or, if not applicable, a sole surviving parent, or both parents, of the decedent; or either parent as provided for in subdivision (b)(2) of this section;

    (5) a sole surviving sibling of the decedent or a majority of the surviving siblings, except as provided for in subdivision (b)(3) of this section;

    (6) any other family member, in descending order of kinship under the laws of descent and distribution, except that if there is more than one family member of the same degree of relation, a majority of family members of that degree, except as provided in subdivision (b)(4) of this section, may exercise the right of disposition;

    (7) a guardian of the decedent at the time of death;

    (8) any other individual willing to assume the responsibilities to act and arrange the final disposition of the decedent’s remains, including the representative of the decedent’s estate, after attesting in writing that a good faith but unsuccessful effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (7) of this subsection or that those individuals have waived any interest in exercising their rights under this subchapter;

    [Subdivision (a)(9) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (a)(9) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (9) the funeral director or crematory operator with custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection; or

    [Subdivision (a)(9) effective January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (a)(9) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (9) the funeral director or disposition facility operator with custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection; or

    (10) the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner when it has jurisdiction and custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to contact the individuals described in subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection.

    (b)(1) If there is more than one surviving child of the decedent and a majority of the children is unable to be contacted, less than a majority of the surviving children may make the decisions if they have made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact all other surviving children and prompt efforts to notify them of the proposed decisions, and do not know of any opposition to those decisions.

    (2) If one parent is unable to be contacted, the remaining parent may make the decisions if that parent has made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact the other parent and is not aware of any opposition by the other parent to those decisions.

    (3) If there is more than one surviving sibling of the decedent and a majority of the siblings is unable to be contacted, less than a majority of the surviving siblings may make the decisions if they have made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact all other surviving siblings and prompt efforts to notify them of the proposed decisions, and do not know of any opposition to those decisions.

    (4) If there is more than one family member in the highest applicable order of kinship under the laws of descent and distribution and a majority of these family members is unable to be contacted, less than a majority of the surviving family members in this order may make the decisions if they have made prompt, reasonable efforts to contact all other surviving family members in this order and prompt efforts to notify them of the proposed decisions, and do not know of any opposition to those decisions.

    [Subsection (c) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subsection (c) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (c)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(9) of this section and the funeral director or crematory operator has cremated the remains, the funeral director or crematory operator shall retain the remains for three years and, if no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the funeral director or crematory operator shall arrange for the final disposition of the cremated remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    (2) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (1) of this subsection to the contrary, a funeral director or crematory operator may determine that the unclaimed cremated remains of a deceased veteran shall be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 1586 if:

    (A) at least 180 days have passed since the funeral director or crematory operator cremated the remains;

    (B) the funeral director or crematory operator either:

    (i) has actual knowledge that there is no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section to claim the decedent’s remains; or

    (ii) after making reasonable efforts, has been unable to locate and contact any known interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section; and

    (C) the funeral director or crematory operator has confirmed with the Office of Veterans Affairs that the deceased veteran is eligible to be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

    [Subsection (c) effective January 1, 2023; see also subsection (c) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (c)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(9) of this section and the funeral director or disposition facility operator has cremated or processed the remains, as applicable, the funeral director or disposition facility operator shall retain the remains for three years and, if no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the funeral director or disposition facility operator shall arrange for the permanent disposition of the remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    (2) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (1) of this subsection to the contrary, a funeral director or disposition facility operator may determine that the unclaimed remains of a deceased veteran shall be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 1586 if:

    (A) at least 180 days have passed since the funeral director or disposition facility operator cremated or processed the remains;

    (B) the funeral director or disposition facility operator either:

    (i) has actual knowledge that there is no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section to claim the decedent’s remains; or

    (ii) after making reasonable efforts, has been unable to locate and contact any known interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section; and

    (C) the funeral director or disposition facility operator has confirmed with the Office of Veterans Affairs that the deceased veteran is eligible to be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

    [Subdivision (d)(1) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(1) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (d)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(10) of this section, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may contract with a funeral director or crematory operator to cremate the remains of the decedent.

    [Subdivision (d)(1) effective January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(1) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (d)(1) If the disposition of the remains of a decedent is determined under subdivision (a)(10) of this section, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may contract with a funeral director or disposition facility operator to cremate the remains of the decedent.

    (2)(A) If the cremation of the decedent is arranged and paid for under 33 V.S.A. § 2301, the Department for Children and Families shall pay the cremation expenses to the funeral home, up to the maximum payment permitted by rule by the Department for Children and Families.

    (B) If the cremation of the decedent is not arranged and paid for under 33 V.S.A. § 2301, the Department of Health shall pay the cremation expenses to the funeral home, up to the maximum payment permitted by rule by the Department for Children and Families.

    [Subdivision (d)(3) effective until January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(3) effective January 1, 2023 set out below.]

    (3) The cremated remains shall be returned to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Office shall retain the remains for three years, and if no interested party, as described in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section, claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the Office shall arrange for the final disposition of the cremated remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    [Subdivision (d)(3) effective January 1, 2023; see also subdivision (d)(3) effective until January 1, 2023 set out above.]

    (3) The cremated remains shall be returned to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Office shall retain the remains for three years, and if no interested party, as described in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section, claims the decedent’s remains after three years, the Office shall arrange for the permanent disposition of the cremated remains consistent with any applicable law and standard funeral practices.

    (4) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (3) of this subsection to the contrary, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner may determine that the unclaimed cremated remains of a deceased veteran shall be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 1586 if:

    (A) at least 180 days have passed since the remains were cremated;

    (B) the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner either:

    (i) has actual knowledge that there is no interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section to claim the decedent’s remains; or

    (ii) after making reasonable efforts, has been unable to locate and contact any known interested party as provided in subdivisions (a)(1) through (8) of this section; and

    (C) the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed with the Office of Veterans Affairs that the deceased veteran is eligible to be interred at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery. (Added 2007, No. 56, § 1; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238a, eff. Feb. 1, 2011; 2013, No. 32, § 2; 2015, No. 23, § 45; 2019, No. 9, § 2 eff. April 23, 2019; 2021, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. January 1, 2023.)