2015 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:

(a) Who does not have a relative or other person with the legal right to direct and the means to pay for disposition of the deceased persons body;

(b) Whose relative, or other person, with the legal right to direct the disposition of the deceased persons body does not pay or arrange to pay for, or refuses to direct, the disposition of the deceased persons body within 10 days of being notified of the death; or

(c) For whom no person other than a person described in paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection wishes to direct and pay for the disposition of the deceased persons body.

(2) The State Mortuary and Cemetery Board shall maintain a list of institutions that may accept or process bodies for education or research purposes.

(3)(a) A funeral establishment licensed under ORS 692.146 (Application for funeral establishment or immediate disposition company license) that takes custody of the unclaimed body of a deceased person shall, within five days after taking custody of the body:

(A) Submit a report of death under ORS 432.133 (Mandatory submission and registration of reports of death);

(B) Obtain all contact information known to the medical examiner, a health care facility or law enforcement regarding persons listed in ORS 97.130 (Right to control disposition of remains);

(C) Attempt to locate and notify the persons listed in ORS 97.130 (Right to control disposition of remains);

(D) Arrange with any person listed in ORS 97.130 (Right to control disposition of remains) who will pay the expenses to make disposition of the body;

(E) If no person listed in ORS 97.130 (Right to control disposition of remains) can be located to pay the expenses to make disposition of the body, arrange with a person or institution not listed in ORS 97.130 (Right to control disposition of remains) that will pay the expenses to make disposition of the body;

(F) Determine whether the Department of State Lands or other person is appointed as the personal representative of the deceased person pursuant to ORS 113.085 (Preference in appointing personal representative); and

(G) Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine whether the decedent is eligible for any state or federal benefits.

(b) If no one claims the body within 10 days after the funeral establishment takes custody of the body, or if the persons notified acquiesce, or if the decedent is not eligible for any benefits described in paragraph (a)(G) of this subsection, the funeral establishment may transfer the body to an institution on the list of institutions described in subsection (2) of this section that desires the body for education or research purposes.

(c) If no person or institution claims the body as provided in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection, the funeral establishment 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 board shall reimburse the funeral establishment for the costs of disposition under subsection (5) of this section.

(4) If the deceased person is a child over whom the Department of Human Services 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 board 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.

(5) Upon receipt of a qualifying statement as required by the board by rule that the deceased person is an indigent person, the board shall reimburse a funeral establishment 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 board shall adopt rules establishing the requirements and process for reimbursement and setting the amount that may be reimbursed to a funeral establishment 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; 2015 c.651 §1]