H. B. 2132
(By Delegate Perry)
[Introduced January 12, 2011; referred to the
Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §9-5-18 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to funeral expenses for indigent persons; and authorizing cremation.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §9-5-18 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS.
§9-5-18. Funeral and cremation expenses for indigent persons; filing of affidavits to certify indigency and notice to next of kin; penalties for false swearing; payment by division.
(a) The Department of Health and Human Resources shall pay for reasonable funeral service expenses for indigent persons, in an amount not to exceed $1,250.
(b) For purposes of this section, the indigency of a deceased person is determined by the filing of an affidavit with the department, in a form provided by and determined in accordance with the income guidelines as set forth by the department: (1) Signed by the heir or heirs-at-law which states that the estate of the deceased person is pecuniarily unable to pay the costs associated with a funeral; or (2) signed by the county coroner or the county health officer, the attending physician or other person signing the death certificate or the state medical examiner stating that the deceased person has no heirs or that heirs have not been located after a reasonable search and that the deceased person had no estate or the estate is pecuniarily unable to pay the costs associated with a funeral.
(c) Payment shall be made by the department to the person or persons who have furnished the services and supplies for the indigent person’s funeral expenses or to the persons who have advanced payment for same, as the department may determine, pursuant to appropriations for expenditures made by the Legislature for such purpose.
(d) For purposes of this section, "reasonable funeral service expenses" means expenses for services provided by a funeral director for the disposition of human remains.
(e) A funeral director providing for the disposition of human remains under the provisions of this section is permitted to decide the type of services that will be rendered for the amount paid by the department, including cremation. If the funeral director elects to provide for the disposition of the human remains by cremation, a reasonable effort must be made by the funeral director to give notice to the next of kin, if any are known. If the next of kin object to the cremation, the funeral director may proceed with the cremation only if the next of kin are unwilling or unable to pay the difference between the cost of cremation and the cost of the type of service the next of kin desire.
The funeral director shall execute an affidavit setting forth the efforts made to notify the next of kin the intent to cremate the remains of an individual. In no event may a cremation take place sooner than twenty-four hours after the funeral director receives the body.
(e) (f) Any person who knowingly swears falsely in an affidavit required by this section shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or confined in the county or regional jail for a period of not more than six months, or both fined and confined.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize cremation of indigent persons by funeral directors and the payment of this service by the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.