2013 ORS § 97.170¹
Disposition of unclaimed body of deceased person
  • rules

(1) As used in this section, indigent person means a deceased person who does not have a death or final expense benefit or insurance policy that pays for disposition of the deceased persons body or other means to pay for disposition of the deceased persons body and who has no relative or other person with the legal right to direct and the means to pay for disposition of the deceased persons body.

(2)(a) The Oregon Health and Science University shall appoint a Demonstrator of Anatomy from the staff of the university.

(b) The Demonstrator of Anatomy shall maintain a list of institutions that may accept or process bodies for education or research purposes.

(3) A medical examiner as defined in ORS 146.003 (Definitions for ORS 146.003 to 146.189 and 146.710 to 146.992) or a health care facility as defined in ORS 442.015 (Definitions) that has charge of an unclaimed body of a deceased person shall promptly attempt to locate and notify the relatives of the deceased person or other persons who have an interest in the deceased person and shall arrange with any person who will pay the expenses to make disposition of the body. If the medical examiner or health care facility cannot locate a person who will pay the expenses of disposition of the body, the medical examiner or health care facility may transfer the body to a licensed funeral service practitioner.

(4)(a) A licensed funeral service practitioner who takes custody of the unclaimed body of a deceased person shall promptly verify that a medical examiner or health care facility attempted to locate relatives and interested persons as provided in subsection (3) of this section.

(b) If a medical examiner or health care facility has not attempted to locate relatives and interested persons as provided in subsection (3) of this section, the funeral service practitioner shall, within five days after taking custody of the body, attempt to locate and notify relatives and interested persons and shall arrange with any person who will pay the expenses to make disposition of the body.

(c) If no one claims the body within five days after the funeral service practitioner takes custody of the body, or if the persons notified acquiesce, the funeral service practitioner may transfer the body to an institution approved by the Demonstrator of Anatomy under subsection (2) of this section that desires the body for education or research purposes. The funeral service practitioner shall arrange with an institution that desires the body to pay for care, preparation and transportation of the body to the institution.

(d) If no relative, interested person or institution claims the body as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection, the funeral service practitioner may cremate or bury the body without the consent of persons listed in ORS 97.130 (Right to control disposition of remains) and is indemnified from any liability arising from having made such disposition. The method of disposition must be in the least costly and most environmentally sound manner that complies with law, and that does not conflict with known wishes of the deceased. If the deceased person is an indigent person, the Department of Human Services shall reimburse the funeral service practitioner for the costs of disposition under subsection (6) of this section.

(5) When the deceased person is a child over whom the department held guardianship at the time of death, the department shall promptly attempt to locate and notify the relatives of the deceased child or any other person who has an interest in the deceased child and shall arrange with any person who will pay the expenses to make disposition of the body. If no relatives or interested persons claim the body, the department may transfer the body to an institution that is on the list maintained by the Demonstrator of Anatomy under subsection (2) of this section that desires the body for education or research purposes, or may authorize burial or cremation of the body. The department shall pay expenses related to burial or cremation authorized by the department under this subsection.

(6) Upon receipt of an itemized statement of expenses and proof as required by the department by rule that the deceased person is an indigent person, the department shall reimburse a funeral service practitioner the reasonable costs for disposition of the body of any unclaimed deceased indigent person. The method of disposition must be in the least costly and most environmentally sound manner that complies with law. The department may adopt rules establishing the process for reimbursement and setting the maximum amount that may be reimbursed to a funeral service practitioner under this subsection. [Amended by 1973 c.842 §1; 1985 c.704 §1; 1993 c.345 §4; 1995 c.162 §62; 2009 c.709 §8]