The Memorial Society, Inc., 66 Marlboro Street, Boston, Mass. 617-859-7990

Caring For Your Own Procedures
Highlighting required forms, upon death in MA

Due to recent changes in Massachusetts regulations, we recommend visiting "Issues to Consider in Preparing for Disposition of Decedents" for most recent guidelines regarding death certificates. Our website is currently being revised to reflect these changes and will be updated shortly.

  1. Death certificate--(Need to be sure to specify that it is to be given to you as person responsible for the body, not to a funeral director)

    Obtained from the Certifier:

    1. Attending physician, if an expected death at home, (Nurse may sign a Nurse Pronouncement, but still need Death Certificate signed by physician.) Do not call 911 as they will then be required to attempt resuscitation which will be distressing if clear person is dead.
    2. attending physician if death in hospital,
    3. in the case of an unexpected death at home, call the family doctor if there is one. However, an unexpected death will probably trigger the Medical Examiner becoming involved who will then become the certifier.

    The Death Certificate needs to be filled out accurately (detailed instructions are available in a further section of this link). As it is critical that the form be filled out correctly it is suggested that before filling it out you make a copy and fill the copy in as accurately as possible. Then if you are not sure it is entirely accurate take your copy along with the original which has been signed by the Certifier to the Burial Agent, usually the Health officer, in the town where the death occurred and get their help.

    When complete but before actually filing it with the Burial Agent make several copies, one for the crematory and one for yourself. Certified copies, necessary for filing claims on behalf of the dead persons estate, can be obtained from the town or city clerk, but this may take several days.

  2. Disposition/Removal permit, formerly the Burial permit -- Obtained from local Burial Agent when Death Certificate is filed. This also serves as your transit permit, required for transporting a body from one town to another.

    For cremation you will also need:

  3. Cremation Order
    Obtained from the crematory and required by them for their legal protection:
    • Authorization from next of kin of the decedent for cremation.
    • Order of next of kin--spouse, or, if none, then children (all adult children must sign, and if sending in authorization by fax it must be notarized and the original sent by mail, if from another country consulate should verify the identity)
    • If decedent signed and notarized a Declaration of Intent Regarding Cremation during his/her lifetime this will be helpful in convincing family members, but is not sufficient for the crematory who will still require the above Cremation Authorization Order. The Declaration of Intent Regarding Cremation can be used to authorize one person to sign the next of kin Cremation Authorization Order.

  4. Medical Examiner - Cremation Fee Form-- Pick up the yellow copy of this form from the crematory at the time you pick up the cremains (cremated remains). Mail to State with check made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $100.

    Alternative caskets (of fiberboard) with a body pouch (to contain any possible leaking fluids) are available from crematories for approximately $60.

    Caskets for cremation must be made of combustible materials (no metal), not larger than 32” x 28”, and the name of the decedent must be put on the casket. The body must be transferred to the casket before entering cemetery grounds.

    Be sure to call ahead to the crematory to make arrangements for a time of delivery of the body, and also as some crematories are more accommodating of do-it-yourself cases than others.

For More Detailed Information...

Click to view FCAEM Caring For Your Own Guidance.

[last updated 2015-09-21]

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