Is it legal for a mortician to withhold a death certificate because he hasn’t been paid for body storage?

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Is it legal for a mortician to withhold a death certificate because he hasn’t been paid for body storage?

The mortician won’t release the death certificate to the family or insurance company because he has not been paid yet. The family is waiting for the insurance money to pay him but can not because he is withholding the certificate

Asked on September 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Kentucky

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Check section 213.076 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. I believe the Funeral Director has 10 days to get you a completed death certificate and essentially not to cause undue delay. You may wish to contact the state registrar's office and find out if you can get some sort of provisional death certificate to take custody of the body. Inform your insurance company and contact the state attorney general. Get the media involved if you have to in order to push this person to understand that his payment cannot occur without the insurance proceeds and that the insurance proceeds cannot be obtained without the death certificate. Holding a body can be a criminal violation and so the quicker you get the authorities involved, the better.


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