Laws About What Has To Happen After Someone Dies
Most of us have thought, at least at one point, about what happens to our bodies after death. Depending on your culture and spiritual background, you may prefer anything from a traditional casket burial to a massive funeral pyre. Funeral practices around the world, however, are subject to death laws. Legal constraints for burial and cremation, and laws regarding the treatment of bodies, often defy logic.
What laws are in place after someone dies? Burial laws vary greatly, as do laws regarding corpses in general. From stringent regulations on non-traditional cremations to the fact an organ donor's wishes can be completely ignored, such laws can be depressing. All the more reason to be prepared for the inevitable and make sure your next of kin are willing and able to oblige your wishes.
In Some Countries, You Can Legally Marry A Dead Person
During World War I, devastated fiancées of fallen soldiers wanted to wed their slain lovers even after death. Throughout the war, this request was usually – albeit, somewhat unofficially – granted. The practice was questionably legal in France until 1950, when it was officially made law. To marry a dead person, you must get permission from the president and justice minister and provide evidence that the deceased intended to marry you.
If a ceremony is held, the living partner usually stands next to a photo of their departed lover. The words “till death to us part” are omitted from wedding vows. Instead of ending with, “I do,” the ceremony instead ends with, “I did.” Similar ceremonies have also taken place in Thailand and South Korea.
In The UK, It's Illegal To Die In ParliamentPhoto: Arpingstone / WikiMedia Commons / Public Domain
In the UK, there are several laws – some dating as far back as the 13th century – that seem absurd by modern standards. One such law states it’s illegal to die in parliament, and those who look sickly should be carried out. The reason for this law?
Much like a 1279 law that bans wearing armor in parliament, this law is designed to keep parliament a peaceful place. As it’s thought of as a place of royalty, death and violence are forbidden.
Necrophilia Is Still Legal In Five US StatesPhoto: Discovery Life / YouTube
Due to the intense social stigma surrounding the practice, one would assume necrophilia is illegal throughout the United States. However, four states still have no official laws against necrophilia.
Necrophilia is technically legal in Louisiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Vermont.
The Majority Of States Allow Home Burials
Home burial is traditionally thought of as an archaic practice, but you would be surprised to know the majority of US states have no laws specifically prohibiting it. Most states do require you check zoning laws first. Some states – such as Michigan and Illinois – also require you have a licensed funeral director perform certain parts of the funeral. However, as long as you follow these regulations, you could conceivably burry a loved one in your backyard.
Exceptions include Arkansas, California, Indiana, Louisiana, and Washington; these states require bodies be buried in an established cemetery.
Families Can Veto Organ Donation From Willing And Registered Donors
If you want to be an organ donor, make sure your next of kin are on board. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, an act that regulates organ donation, still does not have the power to override your surviving family’s wishes.
Even if you fill out a valid organ donation card, there is no guarantee your organs will be donated if your family protests. In the United States, your next of kin still has the last word regarding your remains. Surviving family members have the legal right to refuse organ donation.
The UK Is The Best Place To Conduct A Funeral PyrePhoto: Graham Crumb / WikiMedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Funeral pyres are wooden structures used ritualistically in cremations, especially in Hindu and Sikh culture. Rituals vary, but the body is usually shrouded and placed under a pyre and then lit on fire. The practice became legal in the UK in 2010, as long as the practice is environmentally safe and takes place in a closed building away from the public eye.
In the United States, funeral pyres are generally illegal. Colorado has the only legal outdoor funeral pyre currently operating in the Untied States. This makes it the only state where funeral pyres are an option for an alternative to burial or traditional cremation.