What are the West Virginia burial requirements for burying someone on my own?

F.mullins asked...

what are the bare minimum legal requirements for burial for West Virginia? I have heard that as long as there is a death certificate and funeral director to confirm burial was done properly that a family can take charge of the body at home, or other location such as a church, and if the body is buried within 24 hours, there is no need even for embalming.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The law in West Virginia, like the law in most states, does allow you to act completely on your own in handling these matters. And there is no set time limit on burying a body without embalming it, first. Embalming is generally only required if a body will be transported out of state or is infected with a contagious or communicable disease and embalming the body would eliminate the risk of spreading it, which is rare.

But if you want to handle burying a body, you must make the effort to learn about the specifics of related legal controls. For example, West Virginia law requires you to keep particular records about where and when bodies are disposed of, and it also allows municipalities to impose some additional restrictions.

If you are interested in proceeding on your own, you can find a synopsis of state law requirements at the Funeral Consumers Alliance. In addition, the book Caring for Your Own Dead: Your Final Act of Love by Lisa Carlson (Upper Access Publishers) details what permits are required in each state and how to find and file them, along with providing practical information about how to proceed.