Kansas Board of Mortuary Arts
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Facts about Funerals


button What can be done prior to Death occurring?
button Is it possible to pre-finance my funeral prior to Death occurring?
button Is there a law which prohibits funeral homes from advertising?
button Is there a law which prohibits funeral directors from solicitation at or near the time of death?
button What should one do when a Death occurs?
button What are available methods of disposition?
button What is embalming and it's purpose?
button Does the law require that a dead human body be embalmed? How about cremation?
button How are remains donated?
button Can I donate my organs without donating my entire body?
button What is meant by immediate disposition?
button What is done with cremated remains?
button Can a family bury its own dead without using a licensed funeral director?
button How do people select a funeral director?
button How may I learn about funeral costs?
button Where can I secure additional information regarding mortuary laws in the state of Kansas?
button If I have a complaint against a funeral director, embalmer or a funeral establishment about the way I am served who should I contact?

WHAT CAN BE DONE PRIOR TO DEATH OCCURRING?

Record your wishes, advise family members (specifically the legal next of kin) and even pre-arrange your funeral with the funeral home of your choice. 

 

IS IT POSSIBLE TO PRE-FINANCE MY FUNERAL PRIOR TO DEATH OCCURRING?

Yes, it is. Pre-financed funeral agreements can be financed by a funeral trust or through life insurance products.

Once established, funeral trusts protect consumers 100% in the state of Kansas. There are many different circumstances, but a revocable funeral trust is usually in the form of a savings account or certificate of deposit. You, the consumer, control the money and interest earned. You may withdraw the money anytime prior to death, but you automatically cancel the agreement by doing so. The interest earned on these trusts is taxable to yourself, although some are tax exempt. Trust agreements do not normally guarantee funeral prices, but they do allow you to keep  control of your money. While in years past the interest earned may have  kept up with funeral cost increases, this is not necessarily true today.  All irrevocable funeral trusts are non-refundable. Your money becomes locked in as payment for your funeral expense. Irrevocable trusts can be advantageous if you are receiving financial assistance (an example would be assistance from the Kansas Department of Social & Rehabilitation Services) as the money in these trusts does not count as a resource, OR if the funeral provider will agree to guarantee prices based on accumulating interest. Remember, revocable trusts are refundable. Irrevocable trusts are not, but in either case you still control which funeral home you want to use. A letter is all that is required should you decide to use a different funeral home prior to death. While the funeral trust may not yield a particularly high interest rate, it does allow you to retain control of the money (including interest) prior to death when done revocably. Please note that in almost all instances the contract will be declared null and void should you choose to withdraw any of the money (principal and/or interest) prior to death.

Another method used in pre-financing funeral agreements  is insurance. Funeral homes and third-party sellers employing licensed insurance agents can use approved life insurance products to pre-finance a funeral agreement. There are many different kinds of policies available in the state of Kansas, so please BEWARE! Some are non-refundable (irrevocable or irrevocable assignments) or only partially refundable-unlike the revocable 100% trusts previously mentioned. The good news about insurance funded pre-need agreements is that they generally will guarantee the funeral for a set price, and you are not normally taxed on interest earned as it goes to the seller. Be sure and ask if all prices are guaranteed at the time you are making pre-arrangements and ask about any penalties imposed for transfer or withdrawal. If funeral prices are not guaranteed, then you may want to consider other options.  Make sure that any guarantees are in writing and spell out which products and services are covered. Generally, cash advance items (items not controlled by the funeral home - such as newspaper obituary notices, flowers, cemetery costs...) are not  guaranteed.

Cemeteries also have trusting requirements, although they are quite different from funeral homes. Cemeteries will often guarantee their prices, but cemetery merchandise trusting requirements are only 110% of the wholesale cost, and you will most likely take a substantial loss should you desire a refund of your original investment prior to death.

The bottom line here is to be extremely careful before signing any kind of pre-finance funeral agreement. Make sure you know what you're signing, particularly: if funeral costs are guaranteed, if you must pay tax on any interest earned, if the agreement is revocable or irrevocable, and what kind of a financial penalty you will face if requesting a refund prior to death (in cases of moving, financial hardships...). For additional information on pre- arrangements please read our brochure, entitled: "Preplanning Your Funeral Arrangements" also available at no cost and can be found on our Internet web site.  Before canceling an insurance product, be sure and get (in writing) what the cash value/refund will be.

 

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IS THERE A LAW WHICH PROHIBITS FUNERAL HOMES FROM ADVERTISING?

No, but consumer protection laws require all advertising to be factual and clear in content. Any misrepresentations should be reported to the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts. (Our address is listed at the end of this brochure.)

IS THERE A LAW WHICH PROHIBITS FUNERAL DIRECTORS FROM SOLICITATION AT OR NEAR THE TIME OF DEATH?

Yes. "At-need solicitation" means any uninvited contact for the purpose of the sale of funeral services or merchandise to the family or next of kin of a person after the person's death or where death is imminent. This is against the law and should be reported to the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts. It is often impossible for a company soliciting a pre-need product to know if such a situation exists. Once you advise them that it does, they should no longer pursue a sale with you.

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WHAT SHOULD ONE DO WHEN A DEATH OCCURS?

Arrangements for disposition of the deceased generally can be made by a spouse, next of kin or legal representative. K.S.A. 65-1734 lists the order of priority of persons authorized to dispose of decedent's remains.

        1.    Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions pursuant to KSA 58-625, et seq.
        2.    Spouse of the deceased
        3.    Children of the deceased (see KSA 65-1734 for further details)
        4.    Parents of the deceased (see KSA 65-1734 for further details)
A direct link to KSA 65-1734 (in Adobe Reader, .pdf format) can be found at:
http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteInfo.do  and typing in 65-1734 and selecting Search

KSA 58-625 is the law concerning the "durable power of attorney for health care decisions." KSA 58-629 addresses this authority - with section (f) stating: "Death of the principal shall not prohibit or invalidate acts of the agent in arranging for organ donation, autopsy or disposition of body." If you have this authority and are making funeral arrangements, bring along a copy of the paperwork as proof, to avoid any confusion.

The normal sequence of events for handling a death is as follows:

  1. Contact the funeral home of your choice;
  2. Death must be verified by a coroner, medical examiner or the last attending physician;
  3. Contact relatives;
  4. Locate deceased's letter of direction, prepaid funeral contract or prearrangement information, insurance policies or will;
  5. If death occurs out of state or country, it is advisable that you immediately contact a local funeral director of your choice who will know the requirements that must be met, as well as help prevent duplication of service costs.
A direct link to KSA 58-625 (in Adobe Reader, .pdf format) can be found at:
http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteInfo.do  
and typing in 58-625 and selecting Search

A direct link to KSA 58-629 (in Adobe Reader, .pdf format) can be found at:
http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteInfo.do 
and typing in 58-629 and selecting Search

*Laws do not require using a funeral home except in certain situations involving infectious/contagious diseases as defined by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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WHAT ARE THE AVAILABLE METHODS OF DISPOSITION?

Human remains can be buried, entombed, cremated, or donated for anatomical study. For practical purpose, burial and/or cremation are considered final disposition.

 

WHAT IS EMBALMING AND ITS PURPOSE?

Embalming is the chemical preparation of a dead human body for disposition.

 

DOES THE LAW REQUIRE THAT A DEAD HUMAN BODY BE EMBALMED? HOW ABOUT CREMATION?

A body dead from any cause may be interred or cremated without embalming if interment or cremation is within 24 hours of death. A reasonable period of time beyond 24 hours may be permitted if: (a) Religious beliefs, laws or customs do not permit transportation or interments on Sabbath or holy days; and (b) No health hazard or nuisance will result from such delay. A body dead from any cause other than infectious or contagious disease may be interred or cremated without embalming if embalming would violate personal or religious beliefs and no health hazard or nuisance will result. An unembalmed body may be retained in storage at a constant temperature of less than 40 degrees fahrenheit. When that body is removed from storage and transported, the body shall reach its final destination within 24 hours following removal from storage. If the body is placed in a metal or metal-lined hermetically sealed container immediately after death, the body may be considered, for the purpose of transporting, an embalmed body.

Funeral homes may have a policy requiring embalming in case of open casket public funerals.

Bodies dead of certain (defined by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, K.A.R. 28-1-2) infectious or contagious disease must be handled and prepared by a licensed Kansas embalmer. If cremation will occur within 24 hours following death, a body that is unembalmed shall be placed in a suitable combustible container prior to cremation. If burial will occur within 24 hours, a body that is unembalmed shall be placed in a metal-lined, hermetically sealed container prior to burial. Otherwise, the body shall be embalmed and placed in a casket or suitable combustible container prior to transporting and burial. K.A.R. 63-3-10 addresses death from infectious or contagious diseases.

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HOW ARE REMAINS DONATED?

Donation of dead human bodies to the Kansas Medical Center can be made either through a funeral establishment or by contacting:

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
University of Kansas Medical Center
39th & Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, Kansas 66103
(913) 588-2735

It is recommended that the paperwork for bequeathing a body be filed prior to death.

 

CAN I DONATE MY ORGANS WITHOUT DONATING MY ENTIRE BODY?

Yes. A gift of all or part of the body may be made by a proper document and/or the instructions made known to relatives or responsible persons, or by completing the reverse side of the Kansas driver's license.

 

WHAT IS MEANT BY IMMEDIATE DISPOSITION?

Immediate disposition usually consists of the disposition of the remains with no attending rites, ceremonies or services. Immediate disposition usually includes the transfer of remains, sanitary care in compliance with the Kansas law, preparation of and filing the necessary authorizations and consents, death certificate, any other necessary permits and a container for the handling of remains.

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WHAT IS DONE WITH CREMATED REMAINS?

Cremated remains may be disposed of in a number of ways: privately scattered, scattered at sea, scattered by airplane in unpopulated areas, interred in a cemetery, placed in a niche in a columbarium, or kept by the family in their home. It is recommended that you ask permission from land owners before scattering ashes on property that you do not own. 

 

CAN A FAMILY BURY ITS OWN DEAD WITHOUT USING A LICENSED FUNERAL DIRECTOR?

Yes. What is legally required is the filing of a death certificate. In cases of cremation a "Coroner's Cremation Authorization" is also required. Families may bury their own dead so long as they are able to file the appropriate paperwork and comply with all state, federal and local health laws. Remember that there are additional requirements in cases involving infectious/contagious diseases. Address information for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Division of Vital Statistics, can be found at the back of this booklet.

If you are considering burial or scattering of ashes on property that you do not own, please consider the following:

  1. Check with city/county officials to see if there are any local ordinances regarding burial on non-cemetery property.
  2. Check with the land owner (private or public) to ask permission to use their property (written permission/authorization.)

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HOW DO PEOPLE SELECT A FUNERAL DIRECTOR?

Reasons include reputation, availability or cost of services. The manner in which a funeral director serves families is readily known in most communities. If you need a funeral director and for some reason do not know one, the reference of a relative or friend is one wise way to make a decision. The best way is to know in advance whom you would select and then visit the funeral home, examine the facilities, ask about prices and understand the ways in which your needs will be served. Consider all alternatives and consult several different firms/organizations to compare costs. After determining where to call, be prepared to ask questions concerning all aspects of funeral arrangements. Checking on prices can also be done at anytime, either prior to or following death. If price is a concern, you may want to visit with several funeral homes to compare prices.

Prior to making funeral arrangements it will be necessary for you to have the following information available:

  1. Full name of deceased
  2. Occupation
  3. Date of birth
  4. Place of birth
  5. Social Security number
  6. Residence address
  7. Spouse's name (maiden name)
  8. Father's name, mother's maiden name
  9. Place of burial or disposition
  10. Discharge paper, if veteran
  11. Level of education completed

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HOW MAY I LEARN ABOUT FUNERAL COSTS?

Telephone Inquires: Retail prices can be asked for and obtained by telephone.

Obtaining Information: You may want to follow up with a visit to the funeral home. Any consumer entering a funeral home and making inquiries is entitled to the retail price list. By law, you must be presented a retail price list itemizing the costs of a funeral and the merchandise for sale from a funeral director. Kansas law requires that each funeral service casket shall have a card or brochure in it, listing the price of the casket.

Please note that there may be additional charges for items such as cemetery fees, flowers, classified newspaper notices and honoraria.

After completing all arrangements, you must be given an itemized funeral purchase agreement that should be signed by a funeral home representative., known as the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.

At the actual time of making funeral arrangements and prior to the performing of services and/or merchandise by the funeral home, Kansas law (KAR 63-3-17) requires that a licensee provide a written statement signed by a funeral home representative. This statement shall show:

  1. Service price and what services are included;
  2. Price of supplemental service items or merchandise, or both requested, and
  3. The amount for any cash advance monies (items the funeral home is paying as a convenience for you such as an organist or soloist's fee, flowers...) that can be specified at the time.

Choosing A Casket/Outer Container: Each casket/outer container should have a separate price. Caskets/outer containers are not required by law; however, there may be cemetery or mausoleum requirements. The law does not require caskets for cremation although some type of container may be necessary such as a wooden box, canvas pouch or simple combustible container. Individual crematories may have separate policies.

Caskets and outer containers range in prices. They are constructed from various materials including steel, copper, bronze and wood. The only warranties, expressed or implied, granted in connection with casket products are the express written warranties, if any, extended by the manufacturers thereof. There is no direct relationship between the protective features of the casket/outer container and the preservation of the body.

    Caskets can be purchased from several locations, including funeral homes, casket stores, some cemeteries, and businesses located via the internet.

    The Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule prohibits funeral homes from charging a handling fee when families purchase a casket at a location other than the funeral home.

 

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WHERE CAN I SECURE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING MORTUARY LAWS IN THE STATE OF KANSAS?

Rulebooks can be obtained for $5.00 from the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts (address given with this brochure) and also can be downloaded for free by clicking on this link Rulebook. An additional brochure entitled: "Pre-Planning Your Funeral Arrangements" is also available through the offices of the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts at no cost- as is a generic "Memorial Planning Guide."

 

IF I HAVE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A FUNERAL DIRECTOR, EMBALMER OR A FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT ABOUT THE WAY I AM SERVED WHO SHOULD I CONTACT?

The Mortuary Arts Board investigates complaints against funeral establishments and their licensees. Complaint forms are available through the board's office in Topeka and on the agency's web site which can be downloaded by clicking here: complaint_form.pdf. Complaints against cemeteries and third party pre-need sellers can be filed with the Consumer Protection Division of the Kansas Attorney General's office. The Kansas Insurance Commissioner's office licenses insurance agents that sell insurance for the purpose of funding pre-need funeral arrangements. The Secretary of State's office audits cemetery and funeral pre- need trusts and permanent maintenance funding of all for-profit cemeteries. When in doubt, simply contact the Mortuary Arts Board. We will refer you to the proper agency.

Questions that your local funeral home or cemetery can't answer for you, or any situation not covered in this brochure, can be directed to the Mortuary Arts Board office in Topeka.

    We offer a free MEMORIAL PLANNING GUIDE available at no charge by simply printing it from our website by clicking  Memorial Planning Guide  or by making a request to our office.

We hope this page has been informative. Making funeral arrangements is hard enough to do as it is. Hopefully, this information will make you aware of the laws that have been enacted for your protection.

Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts
700 SW Jackson St., Suite  904 
Topeka, Kansas 66603- 3733 
(785) 296-3980 
email: boma1@ksbma.ks.gov
website: http://www.kansas.gov/ksbma/

Hours: Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. - 12:00 Noon & 12:30 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.

Consumer Protection/Antitrust Division
Kansas Attorney General's Office 
120 SW 10th Street , Ste 430
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1597 
1-800-432-2310
(785) 296-3751
email: cprotect@ksag.org 
web site: http://www.ksag.org/
Kansas Insurance Department
420 SW 9th St. 
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1678 
1-800-432-2484 
(785) 296-2283
email: webcomplaints@ksinsurance.org
website: http://www.ksinsurance.org/
Kansas Secretary of State
Memorial Hall 1st Floor
120 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66612 
(785) 296-4564 
email: mindik@kssos.org
web site: http://www.kssos.org
Kansas Department of Health & Environment
 Office of Vital Statistics 
Curtis State Office Building 
1000 SW Jackson, Suite 120 
Topeka, Kansas 66612-2221 
(785) 296-1400
email: Vital.Records@kdhe.state.ks.us
website:http://www.kdheks.gov/vital/
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Midwest Region (Kansas)
55 W. Monroe Street, Suite 1825
Chicago, Illinois  60603-5701
Toll free complaint line: 1-877-382-4357
Funeral Rule web site:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/rulemaking/funeral


State of Kansas Board of Mortuary Arts

700 SW Jackson Street, Suite 904   -  Topeka, Kansas 66603-3733
phone:(785)-296-3980  -  fax:(785)296-0891
 -  email: boma1@ksbma.ks.gov


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