Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 28. Funeral Services
11/29/2022

Article 1. Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

§ 54.1-2800. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Advertisement" means any information disseminated or placed before the public.

"At-need" means at the time of death or while death is imminent.

"Board" means the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

"Cremate" means to reduce a dead human body to ashes and bone fragments by the action of fire.

"Cremator" means a person or establishment that owns or operates a crematory or crematorium or cremates dead human bodies.

"Crematory" or "crematorium" means a facility containing a furnace for cremation of dead human bodies.

"Embalmer" means any person engaged in the practice of embalming.

"Embalming" means the process of chemically treating the dead human body by arterial injection and cavity treatment or, when necessary, hypodermic tissue injection to reduce the presence and growth of microorganisms to temporarily retard organic decomposition.

"Funeral directing" means the for-profit profession of directing or supervising funerals, preparing human dead for burial by means other than embalming, or making arrangements for funeral services or the financing of funeral services.

"Funeral director" means any person engaged in the practice of funeral directing.

"Funeral service establishment" means any main establishment, branch, or chapel that is permanently affixed to the real estate and for which a certificate of occupancy has been issued by the local building official where any part of the profession of funeral directing, the practice of funeral services, or the act of embalming is performed.

"Funeral service intern" means a person who is preparing to be licensed for the practice of funeral services under the direct supervision of a practitioner licensed by the Board.

"Funeral service licensee" means a person who is licensed in the practice of funeral services.

"In-person communication" means face-to-face communication and telephonic communication.

"Next of kin" means any of the following persons, regardless of the relationship to the decedent: any person designated to make arrangements for the disposition of the decedent's remains upon his death pursuant to § 54.1-2825, the legal spouse, child aged 18 years or older, parent of a decedent aged 18 years or older, custodial parent or noncustodial parent of a decedent younger than 18 years of age, siblings over 18 years of age, guardian of minor child, guardian of minor siblings, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, maternal siblings over 18 years of age and paternal siblings over 18 years of age, or any other relative in the descending order of blood relationship.

"Practice of funeral services" means engaging in the care and disposition of the human dead, the preparation of the human dead for the funeral service, burial or cremation, the making of arrangements for the funeral service or for the financing of the funeral service and the selling or making of financial arrangements for the sale of funeral supplies to the public.

"Preneed" means at any time other than at-need.

"Preneed funeral contract" means any agreement where payment is made by the consumer prior to the receipt of services or supplies contracted for, which evidences arrangements prior to death for (i) the providing of funeral services or (ii) the sale of funeral supplies.

"Preneed funeral planning" means the making of arrangements prior to death for (i) the providing of funeral services or (ii) the sale of funeral supplies.

"Solicitation" means initiating contact with consumers with the intent of influencing their selection of a funeral plan or funeral service provider.

Code 1950, § 54-260.1; 1956, c. 220; 1972, c. 797, § 54-260.67; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 684; 1991, c. 539; 1997, c. 116; 1998, cc. 718, 867; 2003, c. 505; 2006, c. 56; 2015, cc. 534, 670.

§ 54.1-2801. Exemptions.

A. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any officer of local or state institutions or to the burial of the bodies of inmates of state institutions when buried at the expense of the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions.

B. Any person holding a license as a funeral director or embalmer or an equivalent in another state, having substantially similar requirements as the Board, may apply to the Board for courtesy card privileges to remove bodies from and to arrange funerals or embalm bodies in this Commonwealth. However, these privileges shall not include the right to establish or engage generally in the business of funeral directing and embalming in Virginia.

Code 1950, §§ 54-260.1, 54-260.22 through 54-260.30, 54-260.32; 1956, c. 220; 1966, c. 284, § 54-260.70; 1972, c. 797, § 54-260.67; 1973, c. 296; 1974, c. 686; 1978, c. 849; 1986, c. 43; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-2802. Board; appointment; terms; vacancies; meetings; quorum.

The Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers shall consist of nine members as follows: seven funeral service licensees of the Board with at least five consecutive years of funeral service practice in the Commonwealth immediately prior to appointment and two nonlegislative citizen members. The terms of office shall be for four years from July 1. Appointments shall be made annually on or before June 30 as the terms of the members respectively expire. Appointments to the Board should generally represent the geographical areas of the Commonwealth. The Board shall annually elect a president, a vice-president, and a secretary-treasurer.

The Board shall hold at least two meetings each year. In addition, the Board may meet as often as its duties require. Five members shall constitute a quorum.

1988, cc. 42, 765; 2000, c. 773; 2015, c. 534.

§ 54.1-2803. Specific powers and duties of Board.

In addition to the general powers and duties conferred in this subtitle, the Board shall have the following specific powers and duties to:

1. Establish standards of service and practice for the funeral service profession in the Commonwealth.

2. Regulate and inspect funeral service establishments, their operation and licenses.

3. Require licensees and funeral service interns to submit all information relevant to their practice or business.

4. Enforce the relevant regulations of the Board of Health.

5. Enforce local ordinances relating to funeral service establishments.

6. Advise the Department of Health Professions of any training appropriate for inspectors serving as the Board's agents.

7. Establish, supervise, regulate and control, in accordance with the law, programs for funeral service interns.

8. Establish standards for and approve schools of mortuary science or funeral service.

9. Regulate preneed funeral contracts and preneed funeral trust accounts as prescribed by this chapter, including, but not limited to, the authority to prescribe preneed contract forms, disclosure requirements and disclosure forms and to require reasonable bonds to insure performance of preneed contracts.

10. Inspect crematories and their operations.

Code 1950, §§ 54-260.3, 54-260.4, 54-260.6, 54-260.7, 54-260.11 through 54-260.14, 54-260.16 through 54-260.18, 54-260.20, 54-260.21, 54-260.45 through 54-260.49; 1956, c. 220; 1960, c. 61, § 54-260.69; 1966, c. 283, § 54-260.65; 1970, c. 385; 1972, c. 797, §§ 54-260.64, 54-260.68; 1978, c. 849; 1979, c. 650; 1980, c. 728; 1984, cc. 627, 704; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 684; 2000, c. 773; 2003, c. 505; 2006, c. 56.

§ 54.1-2804. Licensing authority.

The Board is authorized to determine the qualifications to enable any person to engage in the practice of funeral service, preneed funeral planning, funeral directing, embalming and the operation of a funeral service establishment. The Board shall promulgate regulations that establish the requirements of licensure for funeral directors and embalmers.

Code 1950, § 54-260.70; Code 1950, §§ 54-260.22 through 54-260.30, 54-260.32; 1956, c. 220; 1966, c. 284, § 54-260.70; 1972, c. 797; 1973, c. 296; 1974, c. 686; 1978, c. 849; 1986, c. 43; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 684; 2020, c. 943.

§ 54.1-2805. Engaging in the practice of funeral services or the business of preneed funeral planning or acting as a funeral director or embalmer without a license.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in or hold himself out as engaging in the practice of funeral services or the business of preneed funeral planning, to operate a funeral service establishment, or to act as a funeral director or embalmer or hold himself out as such unless he is licensed by the Board. Engaging in the practice of funeral services, preneed funeral planning, operating a funeral service establishment, or acting as a funeral director or embalmer shall be recognized as that of a health profession.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, a person who is duly enrolled in a mortuary education program in the Commonwealth may assist in embalming while under the immediate supervision of a funeral service licensee or embalmer with an active, unrestricted license issued by the Board, provided that such embalming occurs in a funeral service establishment licensed by the Board and in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board.

1974, c. 257, § 54-260.73:1; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 684; 2000, c. 773; 2018, c. 186.

§ 54.1-2806. Refusal, suspension, or revocation of license, registration, or courtesy card.

A. As used in this section, "license" shall include any license, registration, or courtesy card issued by the Board.

B. The Board may refuse to admit a candidate to any examination, refuse to issue a license to any applicant and may suspend a license for a stated period or indefinitely, or revoke any license or censure or reprimand any licensee or place him on probation for such time as it may designate for any of the following causes:

1. Conviction of any felony or any crime involving moral turpitude;

2. Unprofessional conduct that is likely to defraud or to deceive the public or clients;

3. Misrepresentation or fraud in the conduct of the funeral service profession, or in obtaining or renewing a license;

4. False or misleading advertising or solicitation;

5. Solicitation at-need or any preneed solicitation using in-person communication by the licensee, his agents, assistants or employees; however, general advertising and preneed solicitation, other than in-person communication, shall be allowed;

6. Employment by the licensee of persons known as "cappers" or "steerers," or "solicitors," or other such persons to obtain the services of a holder of a license for the practice of funeral service;

7. Employment directly or indirectly of any agent, employee or other person, on part or full time, or on a commission, for the purpose of calling upon individuals or institutions by whose influence dead human bodies may be turned over to a particular funeral establishment;

8. Direct or indirect payment or offer of payment of a commission to others by the licensee, his agents, or employees for the purpose of securing business;

9. Use of alcohol or drugs to the extent that such use renders him unsafe to practice his licensed activity;

10. Aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to practice within the funeral service profession;

11. Using profane, indecent, or obscene language within the immediate hearing of the family or relatives of a deceased, whose body has not yet been interred or otherwise disposed of;

12. Solicitation or acceptance by a licensee of any commission or bonus or rebate in consideration of recommending or causing a dead human body to be disposed of in any crematory, mausoleum, or cemetery;

13. Violation of any statute, ordinance, or regulation affecting the handling, custody, care, or transportation of dead human bodies;

14. Refusing to surrender promptly the custody of a dead human body upon the express order of the person lawfully entitled to custody;

15. Knowingly making any false statement on a certificate of death;

16. Violation of any provisions of Chapter 7 (§ 32.1-249 et seq.) of Title 32.1;

17. Failure to comply with § 54.1-2812, and to keep on file an itemized statement of funeral expenses in accordance with Board regulations;

18. Knowingly disposing of parts of human remains, including viscera, that are received with the body by the funeral establishment, in a manner different from that used for final disposition of the body, unless the persons authorizing the method of final disposition give written permission that the body parts may be disposed of in a manner different from that used to dispose of the body;

19. Violating or failing to comply with Federal Trade Commission rules regulating funeral industry practices;

20. Violating or cooperating with others to violate any provision of Chapter 1 (§ 54.1-100 et seq.), Chapter 24 (§ 54.1-2400 et seq.), this chapter, or the regulations of the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers or the Board of Health;

21. Failure to comply with the reporting requirements as set forth in § 54.1-2817 for registered funeral service interns;

22. Failure to provide proper and adequate supervision and training instruction to registered funeral service interns as required by regulations of the Board;

23. Violating any statute or regulation of the Board regarding the confidentiality of information pertaining to the deceased or the family of the deceased or permitting access to the body in a manner that is contrary to the lawful instructions of the next-of-kin of the deceased;

24. Failure to include, as part of the general price list for funeral services, a disclosure statement notifying the next of kin that certain funeral services may be provided off-premises by other funeral service providers;

25. Disciplinary action against a license, certificate, or registration issued by another state, the District of Columbia, or territory or possession of the United States;

26. Failure to ensure that a dead human body is maintained in refrigeration at no more than approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit or embalmed if it is to be stored for more than 48 hours prior to disposition. A dead human body shall be maintained in refrigeration and shall not be embalmed in the absence of express permission by a next of kin of the deceased or a court order; and

27. Mental or physical incapacity to practice his profession with safety to the public.

Code 1950, §§ 54-260.50, 54-260.59; 1956, c. 220; 1972, c. 797, § 54-260.74; 1979, c. 720; 1981, c. 258; 1986, c. 91; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 684; 1990, c. 363; 1996, c. 142; 2003, c. 505; 2006, c. 56; 2010, c. 324; 2015, c. 534; 2020, c. 885.

§ 54.1-2807. Other prohibited activities.

A. A person licensed for the practice of funeral service shall not (i) remove or embalm a body when he has information indicating the death was such that an investigation by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is required pursuant to § 32.1-283 or 32.1-285.1 or (ii) cremate or bury at sea a body until he has obtained permission of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as required by § 32.1-309.3.

B. Except as provided in § 32.1-301 and Chapter 8.1 (§ 32.1-309.1 et seq.) of Title 32.1, funeral service establishments shall not accept a dead human body from any public officer, except the Chief Medical Examiner, an Assistant Chief Medical Examiner, or a medical examiner appointed pursuant to § 32.1-282, or from any public or private facility or person having a professional relationship with the decedent without having first inquired about the desires of the next of kin and the persons liable for the funeral expenses of the decedent. The authority and directions of any next of kin shall govern the disposal of the body, subject to the provisions of § 54.1-2807.01 or 54.1-2825.

Any funeral service establishment violating this subsection shall not charge for any service delivered without the directions of the next of kin. However, in cases of accidental or violent death, the funeral service establishment may charge and be reimbursed for the removal of bodies and rendering necessary professional services until the next of kin or the persons liable for the funeral expenses have been notified.

C. No company, corporation, or association engaged in the business of paying or providing for the payment of the expenses for the care of the remains of deceased certificate holders or members or engaged in providing life insurance when the contract might or could give rise to an obligation to care for the remains of the insured shall contract to pay or pay any benefits to any licensee of the Board or other individual in a manner which could restrict the freedom of choice of the representative or next of kin of a decedent in procuring necessary and proper services and supplies for the care of the remains of the decedent.

D. No person licensed for the practice of funeral service or preneed funeral planning or any of his agents shall interfere with the freedom of choice of the general public in the choice of persons or establishments for the care of human remains or of preneed funeral planning or preneed funeral contracts.

E. This section shall not be construed to apply to the authority of any administrator, executor, trustee, or other person having a fiduciary relationship with the decedent.

Code 1950, §§ 54-260.50, 54-260.59; 1956, c. 220; 1972, c. 797, § 54-260.74; 1979, c. 720; 1981, c. 258; 1986, c. 91; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 684; 1993, c. 965; 2005, c. 905; 2010, c. 383; 2014, cc. 228, 583.

§ 54.1-2807.01. When next of kin disagree.

A. In the absence of a designation under § 54.1-2825, when there is a disagreement among a decedent's next of kin concerning the arrangements for his funeral or the disposition of his remains, any of the next of kin may petition the circuit court where the decedent resided at the time of his death to determine which of the next of kin shall have the authority to make arrangements for the decedent's funeral or the disposition of his remains. The court may require notice to and the convening of such of the next of kin as it deems proper.

B. In determining the matter before it, the court shall consider the expressed wishes, if any, of the decedent, the legal and factual relationship between or among the disputing next of kin and between each of the disputing next of kin and the decedent, and any other factor the court considers relevant to determine who should be authorized to make the arrangements for the decedent's funeral or the disposition of his remains.

2010, c. 383.

§ 54.1-2807.02. Absence of next of kin.

In the absence of a next of kin, a person designated to make arrangements for the decedent's burial or the disposition of his remains pursuant to § 54.1-2825, an agent named in an advance directive pursuant to § 54.1-2984, or any guardian appointed pursuant to Chapter 20 (§ 64.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 64.2 who may exercise the powers conferred in the order of appointment or by § 64.2-2019, or upon the failure or refusal of such next of kin, designated person, agent, or guardian to accept responsibility for the disposition of the decedent, then any other person 18 years of age or older who is able to provide positive identification of the deceased and is willing to pay for the costs associated with the disposition of the decedent's remains shall be authorized to make arrangements for such disposition of the decedent's remains. If a funeral service establishment or funeral service licensee makes arrangements with a person other than a next of kin, designated person, agent, or guardian in accordance with this section, then the funeral service licensee or funeral service establishment shall be immune from civil liability unless such act, decision, or omission resulted from bad faith or malicious intent.

2014, c. 355.

§ 54.1-2807.1. Confidentiality of information on infectious diseases.

All information received by any person practicing funeral services or his agent regarding the fact that any dead body which they have received harbors an infectious disease shall be confidential, and disclosure of such information shall be grounds for disciplinary action against the funeral service licensee pursuant to § 54.1-2806.

Notification that a dead body harbors an infectious disease will not constitute grounds for any funeral director's refusal to accept the body.

1988, c. 836, § 54-260.74:2.

§ 54.1-2808. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1998, c. 867.

§ 54.1-2808.1. Disposition of cremains.

Except as otherwise provided in § 54.1-2808.2, a funeral director may dispose of the cremains of an individual by interment, entombment, inurnment, or by scattering of the cremains, if after 120 days from the date of cremation, the contracting agent has not claimed the cremains or instructed the funeral director as to final disposition. The funeral director shall keep a permanent record of all cremains which identifies the method and site of final disposition. The costs and all reasonable expenses incurred in disposing of the cremains shall be borne by the contracting agent. Upon the disposition of the cremains, the funeral director shall not be liable for the cremains or for the method of final disposition. Except as otherwise provided in § 54.1-2808.2, any funeral director in possession of unclaimed cremains prior to July 1, 1993, may dispose of such cremains in accordance with the provisions of this section. However, no funeral director shall, without written permission of the contracting agent, dispose of cremains in a manner or a location in which the cremains of the deceased are commingled, except in the scattering of cremains at sea, by air, or in an area used exclusively for such purpose, or place, temporarily, the cremains of persons in the same container or urn.

For the purposes of this section and § 54.1-2808.2, "contracting agent" means any person, organization, association, institution, or group of persons who contracts with a funeral director or funeral establishment for funeral services.

1993, c. 531; 2012, cc. 24, 120; 2015, c. 138.

§ 54.1-2808.2. Identification of unclaimed cremains of veterans and eligible dependents.

A. For the purposes of this section:

"Eligible dependent" means a veteran's spouse, a veteran's unmarried child younger than 21 years of age, or veteran's unmarried adult child who before the age of 21 became permanently incapable of self-support because of physical or mental disability.

"Veterans service organization" means an association or other entity organized for the benefit of veterans that has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or chartered by Congress and any employee or representative of such association or entity.

B. If the contracting agent has not claimed the cremains or instructed the funeral director as to final disposition within 90 days from the date of cremation, the funeral director shall provide names and any other identifying information of the unclaimed cremains to the Department of Veterans Services or a veterans service organization in order for the Department or organization to determine if the unclaimed cremains are those of a veteran or eligible dependent. The names and any personal identifying information submitted by a funeral director to the Department of Veterans Services or veterans service organization in compliance with this section shall be exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

C. The Department of Veterans Services or veterans service organization shall notify the funeral director within 45 days of receipt of the information required by subsection B if the cremains are those of a veteran or eligible dependent and, if so, whether such veteran or eligible dependent is eligible for burial in a veterans cemetery in order to permit the transfer of the unclaimed cremains to a veterans cemetery. If the cremains are those of an eligible veteran or eligible dependent, a funeral director may transfer the cremains to the Department of Veterans Services or a veterans service organization for the purpose of disposition of such cremains.

D. No disposal of the unclaimed cremains of an eligible veteran or eligible dependent shall be made until the funeral director has notified the Department of Veterans Services or a veterans service organization and has received a determination as to whether the cremains are those of an eligible veteran or eligible dependent. Absent bad faith or malicious intent, no funeral director who transfers the cremains of a veteran or eligible dependent to the Department of Veterans Services or a veterans service organization for purposes of disposition or a veterans service organization that receives cremains for the purposes of disposition as provided in this section shall be liable for civil negligence.

2012, cc. 24, 120; 2015, c. 138.

§ 54.1-2808.3. Acceptance of third-party-provided caskets.

A. When arrangements for funeral services have been made with a licensed funeral service establishment, funeral service licensees shall accept caskets provided by third parties in accordance with 16 C.F.R. Part 453, Funeral Industry Practices, Federal Trade Commission.

B. No funeral service establishment or funeral service licensee shall be required to store a casket provided by a third party when preneed arrangements for funeral services have been made.

C. Any person selling or providing preneed caskets shall be subject to the same preneed requirements as set forth in 16 C.F.R. Part 453, Funeral Industry Practices, Federal Trade Commission, and § 54.1-2820.

2018, c. 378; 2019, cc. 93, 603; 2020, c. 97.

§ 54.1-2809. Penalties.

Any person, partnership, corporation, association, or its agents or employees who violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 54-260.61; 1956, c. 220; 1972, c. 797, § 54-260.75; 1988, c. 765.