Dead Bodies Law and Legal Definition

A person who has the duty of properly burying a dead body also has rights, including the right to the possession of the body for burial, the right to maintain the burial place and protect the body therein, and the right to initiate legal proceedings for disturbances to such burial place.

The express desires of a person as to the disposition of his or her body after death are subject to the discretion of the courts. The extent to which such preferences will prevail against contrary wishes of a surviving spouse or next of kin depend on the particular facts, including the relationship between the decedent and spouse or next of kin at the time of death, and how recently and strongly decedent expressed his or her desires. Verbal preferences of the decedent, with proper proof, are generally given the same weight as if they were written.

The death of a person may be established by a certificate of death, or a certified copy of such death certificate maintained in an official registry of death. Under certain circumstances, entries made in a church registry or in family records may be used as proof of death.