funeral care and home births
Home funeral care
majority of people choose to use the services of a mortician when someone dies,
but some people want to perform the funeral care process on their own, at home.
Home funeral care may be undertaken by the decedent’s family and friends, regardless
of where the death occurs. It is important to distinguish between a ‘home
funeral’ and a death occurring at home.
of Vital Records (OVR) receives a number of calls and inquiries about home
funerals and answers questions about the regulations and requirements related
to the activities involved in the final disposition of a dead human body. Staff
in OVR inform people that they have options. Each year, Minnesota experiences
about 42,000 deaths but only a handful of home funerals occur. In the last five
years, there have been a total of 25 documented home funerals; five home
funerals occurred in 2015.
that occur in Minnesota must be registered. The fact that someone died must be
registered with the state within five days of the death or before burial,
entombment or cremation, whichever comes first. To register a death, two things
- The mortician, funeral
director or other person in charge of disposition of the body must
complete the documentation of death, including demographic information
about the decedent, according to Minnesota Rules, part 4601.1500.
- A physician, coroner or
medical examiner must provide the cause of death according to Minnesota
Rules, part 4601.1800.
and funeral establishment staff use the Minnesota Registration &
Certification (MR&C) system to record information electronically and to
register the fact of the death in real-time. Physicians (or their designees)
also use MR&C to enter the cause and manner of death.
family chooses a home funeral, OVR directs the family to the documentation of
death worksheets on the Minnesota Department of Health Death Registration Information website.
OVR assists the family in completing the fact of death worksheet. The family
identifies the physician who will provide the medical information. OVR staff
then create the death record in MR&C. The family must request the physician
to complete and submit a paper cause and manner of death worksheet to OVR,
or, the physician may file the cause and manner of death in MR&C.
record is filed, OVR assists those choosing home funeral care with printing the
necessary permits and authorizations for final disposition.
funerals may include public or private visitations. If the body is not buried or entombed in a
legally recognized cemetery or cremated within 72 hours of the time the body is
released from the place of death, the body may require preservation with dry
burial is desired on private property, advance preparation is needed. A private
cemetery must be established on private land; this requires surveying, mapping
or charting the land and registering it with the county or city. Local zoning
officials may need to be consulted. Cremations require the services of a
licensed crematory. Some crematories accept human remains directly from the family;
other crematories work with a licensed funeral establishment.
funerals may involve transportation of the body, reporting the death to the
medical examiner or coroner, and other required documentation. Costs may be
incurred for transportation of the body, disposition, and other items such as a
marker, casket, or urn.
about home funerals and the requirements and regulations for the disposition in
Minnesota is available online in the MDH Mortuary Science publication, Choices.
Births: a small and important population in Minnesota
Each year in Minnesota, a few more mothers are choosing to have
a home birth. In 2015, 818 (just over one percent) of the 69,038 live
births in Minnesota was a planned home birth. The majority of births at home
are planned, and attended by midwives, partners or family members.
Regardless of where they occur, all births must be registered in
Minnesota. Statutes require registration within five days of the birth. For
most births this means that a hospital registrar or other staff person collects
data from the mother and the mother’s and newborn’s medical record. The
hospital birth registrar enters (registers) the birth information into the
state web-based vital records system, Minnesota Registration &
Certification (MR&C). For home births, the required birth information is
collected on Office of Vital Records (OVR) worksheets by the certified nurse
midwife present at the time of birth, or the parents of the child, submitted to
OVR to be validated, and then registered in MR&C. Sometimes, home births
take longer to register because documentation is required to support the facts
of the birth.
When a home birth record is filed before the child’s first
birthday, proof is required to show that the mother was pregnant, that the
mother was present in Minnesota at the time of the birth, and that the child
was born alive. In addition to completed and signed OVR worksheets and
attendant affidavits, other documents needed may include prenatal and pediatric
clinic records. If the mother did not have prenatal care and the infant has no
well-checks, immunizations, or pediatric visits, providing documentary evidence
can be challenging.
If a birth, home or otherwise, is not recorded within the first
year of life, OVR considers the registration ‘delayed’. Delayed birth
registrations require more extensive documentation and a $40 fee. Different
documents may be requested depending on the age of the subject and the age of
the documentation being used as evidence. Collection of proper documentation and
authentication of the documentation may be time consuming.
When processing a delayed birth registration, OVR makes sure
that no birth record is already registered for the individual and reviews the
documents submitted. The documents submitted may include: an official
transcript or certified school or pre-school record; a valid United States
passport; a hospital or clinic record; a United States census record; a
certified copy of a marriage certificate issued by the office where the
application for marriage was made; or a tribal enrollment card or record. The
birth will be registered if the documentation meets the requirements of
Birth records establish identities so fraud prevention is a high
priority for OVR. Professionals such as hospital staff are key in protecting
the integrity of the vital records system. Users of the system are trusted to record
vital events accurately and promptly in MR&C. When a birth occurs at home
or when a registration is delayed, OVR must authenticate and validate the documentation.
If OVR is unable to determine with confidence that a birth occurred in
Minnesota, the application to file a home birth may be rejected. If OVR refuses
to file a record, the person presenting the home birth or delayed registration
may petition the court.
staff provide technical support and instruction to hospital staff statewide for
efficient registration in MR&C. When home births occur, OVR staff work
closely with the midwives and with the families to verify the authenticity of
documentation received and to ensure the prompt registration of the home birth
New collection items
for registering birth and death records in MR&C
Birth records have long had fields to capture the mother’s name
before first marriage. Now, both parents’ names before first marriage can be
collected in MR&C. The Office of Vital Records (OVR) added the ‘names
before first marriage’ fields to the Father's Demographic Information page to offer
better service to all parents. The fields for the father/parent two are
optional. The mother’s last name before first marriage is required by national vital
record standards. If provided, the second parent’s ‘name before first marriage’
will print on the birth certificate and the birth transcript in the
father/parent two areas. MR&C has the data fields available now. OVR
will be updating all worksheets soon. Watch the Minnesota Department of Health
Birth Registration website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/birthreg/refdocs.html.
Death records now include the current legal name of a
decedent's spouse to help surviving spouses settle estate matters. The new
field is available in MR&C now. The spouse’s current legal name and name
before first marriage will both print on the death certificate. The Documentation
of Death worksheet is being updated to reflect the new data element.