Facts About Funerals – Oklahoma

Is there any financial assistance for funeral expenses available through the state?

Financial assistance is not available directly from any state agency. Assistance may be provided through the county. However, the administration of assistance is different from county to county. Please contact your local funeral home to find out what assistance may be available in your county.

What can be done prior to death occurring?

Record your wishes and advise family members.  Any person has the right to direct the manner in which his or her body shall be disposed of after death by executing a sworn affidavit stating the assignment of the right and the name of the person or persons to whom the right has been assigned 21 O.S. §1151.

What kind of personal information is needed when someone dies?

The deceased person’s full name, date of birth, place of birth (city and state or foreign country), full home address, social security number, level of education, marital status, military service, spouse’s full name including maiden name (if applicable), race/ethnicity, occupation, father’s full name, mother’s full name including maiden name, the informant (next of kin, or person legally responsible for final arrangements), the informant’s relationship, the informant’s address. All of this information is required for filing the death certificate.

Who is responsible to make the funeral arrangements?

A spouse, next of kin or legal representative generally can make arrangements for disposition of the deceased.  21 O.S. §1158 provides succession laws regarding the next of kin. Generally the next of kin are in the following order: a. spouse b. adult children c. parents and d. brothers/sisters.  Exceptions may apply in certain situations, you may wish to consult an attorney in these cases.  

What are the available methods of  disposition?

Human remains can be buried, entombed, cremated, or donated for scientific study.

 What is embalming and its purpose?

Embalming is the use of chemicals, internally and externally, to disinfect and temporarily preserve the body for open casket viewing and/or for the removal of the body to distant destinations.

Does the law require that a dead human body be embalmed?

No.  It does require un-embalmed dead bodies shall be buried or otherwise disposed of within 24 hours after death unless refrigeration facilities are available O.A.C. 235:10-11-1 (14).  Although not a state law, many funeral homes will require a body be embalmed if you select a service that includes viewing of the remains.  Likewise most airlines and other common carriers will require that a body be embalmed prior to shipping and the laws of the destination state will apply.   

How are remains donated for scientific study?

Donation of human bodies to medical institutions can be made to the State Anatomical Board at P.O. Box 26901, OKC, OK 73190-3040 phone (405) 271-2424.

What is meant by immediate disposition?

Immediate disposition is the interment, entombment, or cremation of the remains without ceremonies.  Immediate disposition usually includes transfer of the remains to the funeral home, filing of the necessary documents and transportation to the cemetery or the crematory, and merchandise as selected.

What is cremation?

“Cremation” means the technical process, using heat and flame, that reduces human remains to bone fragments. The reduction takes place through heat and evaporation. Cremation shall include, but not be limited to, the processing and pulverization of the bone fragments. 59 O.S. §396.2

Can a body be cremated immediately following death?

No.  In addition to cremation authorization signed by the next of kin, Oklahoma requires a special permit from the State Medical Examiner before a body can be cremated.   

What is done with cremated remains?

Cremated remains may be disposed of in a number of ways: buried in a cemetery, placed in a niche in a columbarium, kept by the family in their home, or scattered on private land with the consent of the property owner. There are no statutes or regulations concerning the removal of cremated remains from Oklahoma.  Cremated remains may be shipped through the U.S. Postal Service only, but they must be shipped  by registered mail with return receipt requested. Commercial mailing companies will not accept cremated remains for shipment.  If the cremated remains are transported by an airline passenger.

Can a family bury its own dead without using a licensed funeral director?

Yes. See 59 O.S. §396.19 for additional information. The family would be responsible to see that a death certificate is completed and filed at the health department. 

Can a family bury on their own property?

The Funeral Board does not have jurisdiction over cemeteries.  Generally, local ordinances, zoning laws, or deed restrictions prohibit burials outside a cemetery within city limits.  If you anticipate burial on private property, contact your attorney for guidance.  The requirements to establish a cemetery are found in 8 O.S. §181.

How do people select a funeral home?

Visit the funeral home, tour their facilities, understand the ways in which your needs will be served.  Selecting a funeral home before the need occurs   will relieve you of the emotional pressure present when a death has occurred.  

Prices for service, facilities and merchandise may vary significantly from one funeral home to another. Inquire about the terms of payment.  Most funeral homes require payment in full before the funeral service, some may accept insurance assignments or take credit cards. 

How can I tell who owns a funeral home?

The name of the establishment, location, owner and Funeral Director In Charge all appear on the establishments license displayed in the funeral home.  
Click here to view lists of  licensed Funeral Homes by City with Owners and Funeral Directors.

Over time funeral homes may change ownership, prices may change, and levels of service may change although the name of the firm remains the same and the former owner may continue to be employed there. Even if your family has used a funeral home for many years, it is a good idea to re-examine your choice from time to time.

Where can I find out information about closed funeral homes?

The Oklahoma Funeral Board has basic information about funeral homes that are no longer in operation.  Please call 405-522-1790 or email info@okfuneral.com with any questions.

How can I learn about funeral costs?

Inquire by telephone or visit the funeral home in person. Any consumer entering a funeral home making inquiries is entitled to receive the General Price Listitemizing the costs of funeral services and the merchandise for sale.

When comparing prices evaluate similar goods and services, as well as total price, quality, and value.   Depending upon the arrangements you select, the total cost can vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars.  The price for a direct cremation or direct burial without any ceremonies can be quite a bit less than a funeral service with visitation, embalming and a casket. 

Some funeral directors offer “package pricing” in addition to, not in place of, itemized pricing.  The package should list individually each of the goods and services included in the package and state the package price.   

At the conclusion of the arrangement conference you must be given a written Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.  It lists the items you selected and the cost of each item. 

The Board does not have the authority to regulate the amount a funeral home charges for their services and merchandise.   

What about other funeral costs?

In addition to the funeral homes charges for service and merchandise the funeral director may help in coordinating items provided by a third party as a convenience to their clients.

These  may include such things as cemetery or crematory services, permits, transportation, honorariums, flowers, obituary notices, certified death certificates etc.  

You may have to pay these other parties directly prior to the funeral or final disposition of the body. 

Choosing a casket and outside enclosure 

Caskets and outside enclosures are not required by law.  A casket or alternative container (such as a cardboard box or unfinished wood box) is a practical necessity for transporting the body for burial or cremation.  
There is no direct relationship between the protective features of the casket and the preservation of the body.

 Outside enclosures are designed to enclose the casket and support the weight of the grave and are required by most cemeteries.  Some may provide additional features as well.  

Is there a law that prohibits funeral directors from advertising?

No, but consumer protection statutes require all advertising to be truthful, factual and clear in content.

Should I consider a prearranged funeral?

Some individuals like the peace of mind in knowing their preferences for funeral arrangements will be followed after their death.  It is a good idea to let your family know of your wishes, and to write those instructions down.  Keep them in a handy place, other than a safe deposit box, as it may be inaccessible on weekends or holidays.  Some individuals may even desire to prepay their own funeral. 

What should I know about prepaid funerals? 

Prepaid contracts are governed by 36 O.S. §6121, and are under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Insurance Department.  The contracts vary in terms and coverage and should be reviewed carefully before signing.

Where can I secure additional information regarding funeral laws in  Oklahoma?  Click here for a complete listing of the statutes and rules. 

If I have a complaint against a funeral director, embalmer, or a funeral establishment who should I contact?

First, discuss your problem with the funeral director and/or management of the funeral establishment.  If you feel you were not treated fairly, the funeral director should be given the opportunity to correct the matter.  

If this is not acceptable, you may provide the facts in writing to State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. Complaints must be filed in writing, signed by the complainant, and specify the exact nature and circumstances of the problem, as well as how the problem may be corrected.  Send complaints to the address printed on the front of this brochure.  Enclose copies of all pertinent documents you may have received from the funeral  establishment.   
After receiving the complaint, the complaint will be acknowledged in writing, and respondent given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.  The Board’s executive committee will review the complaint and response to determine whether an investigation is warranted.  If warranted, an investigation will be made and a summary of the complaint sent to Board members. 
If there are reasonable grounds for belief that a violation may have occurred the matter will be forwarded to the State Attorney General.  It may be set for a hearing before the Board.  

There is a possibility that the person who filed the complaint and other parties will need to appear at the hearing, but this is not always the case.  You will be given ample notice should your presence at the hearing be required.

This process may take up to three months or longer in certain situations.   

The Board will make findings of fact and conclusions of law based on the evidence presented at the hearing and will enter a order.  The maximum penalty the Board may impose is a $10,000 fine and revocation of license.   

The Board does not have the authority to award damages, settle contractual disputes, or offer legal advise. Contact  a private attorney regarding these matters.

If I have a complaint against a cemetery, monument company, vault company or grave digger who should I contact? 

Consumer Protection Division, Attorney General of Oklahoma 
State Capitol, Room 112 
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-4274.

The State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors does not have jurisdiction over cemeteries, monument companies, vault companies, or grave diggers in Oklahoma.   

If I have a complaint regarding a prepaid funeral who should I contact?

Oklahoma Insurance Department

Oklahoma City Office Location:
Five Corporate Plaza
3625 NW 56th, STE 100
Oklahoma City, OK 73112

Local: (405) 521-2828
Toll Free: (800) 522-0071
Fax: (405) 521-6635http://www.ok.gov/oid/ 
Tulsa Office Location:
4157 S. Harvard, Suite. 121
Tulsa, OK 74135
Local:  (918) 747-7700
Toll Free: (800) 728-2906
Fax: (918) 747-7720

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma Insurance Department
P.O. Box 53408
Oklahoma City, OK 73152-3408

If I have a question regarding death certificates or disinterment who should I contact?

Oklahoma Health Department
Vital Statistics
1000 N.E. 10th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73117
(405) 271-5600

This has been developed  as a informational guide and public service by the Oklahoma Funeral Board.  The information contained herein is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed.  Please refer to the Oklahoma Statutes and the Oklahoma Administrative Code for complete statutes and rules.   

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