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Legal Considerations

Legal Considerations

Keeping or bringing a loved one home from an institution after death is legal in every state – including Wisconsin for bathing, dressing, private viewing, and ceremony as the family chooses. Every state recognizes the next-of-kin’s custody and control of the body that allows the opportunity to hold a home vigil. Religious observations, family gatherings, memorials, and private events are not under the jurisdiction of the State or professionals in the funeral industry, who have no medico-legal authority unless it is transferred to them when they are paid for service

Some states do require the involvement of a licensed funeral director for some portion of the process. Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey and New York have various restrictions concerning a family’s right to after-death care, home funerals and burials. This does not affect family rights to bring/keep the body at home, but a funeral director will need to be involved in the process.  Wisconsin has no such requirements.

Families who hold a home funeral must still contact the authorities in order to file a death certificate and other documents.

Wisconsin laws and information:

Wis Stat. 69.18 Makes it clear that families may move bodies

Wis Admin Code DHS 135 – Human Corpses and Stillbirths – also makes it clear that nothing should prevent immediate family from tending a familiy member’s body.




Home Funerals 


Step-by-Step Guide

End of Life Doulas and Home Funeral Guides