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Home Funerals In Arkansas


Home Funerals in Arkansas

Published: December 6, 2018

Please Note: The following article is published for information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. 

Let me say at the offset that everything I am about to write here is my opinion. I am not an attorney, and I do not intend to provide legal advice on the matter of home funerals in Arkansas. The thoughts that I share here will be written from the perspective of an Arkansas licensed funeral director, whom at the time of this article has worked in and around the funeral business in some fashion for twenty years. 

I believe that the home funeral, and caring for your own loved one after death, can be a beautiful, healing, and therapeutic experience. Home funerals can also provide a sense of community and comfort that you may not feel at the local funeral home.  I personally try to be a funeral director that will do everything possible to assist any family with whatever wishes they want to carry out. If you want to have a home funeral, or assist with the care of your loved one, I will do everything I possibly can to accommodate your wishes.

As far as I am aware, there is no law in Arkansas that requires you to hire the services of a funeral director or use a local funeral home to prepare the body of your loved one. It is true that embalming is not required by law in Arkansas. You can also build or design your own casket, in fact, there is no law that requires you to purchase a casket or vault to bury a loved one. There is no law in Arkansas that says you can't bathe, dress, shroud or casket your loved one. There is no law that I am aware of that requires you to hire a funeral director to transport your loved one from the place of death to the cemetery. It is true, you do not have to hire a funeral director to do many of these things. You can do a home funeral on your own.

You can also designate private property in Arkansas as a private family cemetery. To do this, you should contact your local health department. They will provide all the rules and regulations as well as the steps you need to take to establish a private cemetery in Arkansas. 

Recently, I had a discussion with our local funeral board about home funerals in Arkansas, and if they were legal or not. The legal counsel for the Arkansas State Board of funeral service informed me that as long as a person is not holding themselves out to the public they can care for their own dead family members in Arkansas without hiring a funeral director to help them. 

However, many families wishing to do a home funeral in Arkansas still need a funeral director to do some things that they don't know how to do or does not have the equipment to do, and this is where things can get a little confusing  for those wanting to have a home funeral in Arkansas. While there are currently no laws that I am aware of in Arkansas mandating how you personally care for your loved one in your own home, when you hire a funeral director, there are Arkansas laws and mandates that the funeral director must follow. I will share one with you here, but you can read all of the rules in their entirety at the Arkansas Funeral Service Board website.

Here a Few Things You Are Probably Going To Need A Funeral Director To Do

  • You will probably need a funeral director to assist you with the filing of the death certificate. Most death certificates in Arkansas are now completed and processed through an electronic system.
  • You will probably need a funeral director to assist you with transporting the body from the place of death. As I stated earlier, there is no law that I am aware of that mandates you have to hire a funeral director to transport a loved one from the place of death, but let's think about it this for a minute. If your loved one dies in a hospital, a nursing home is at the coroner's office, or medical examiners office it may be difficult to get them to release the body into your personal care. Secondly, will you have the proper equipment and vehicle to properly transport your loved one?
  • If you do not want to choose to embalm, you may need a funeral director to hold the body in "cold storage". Arkansas law requires an unembalmed body to be refrigerated after 24 hours if the body is going to be buried, and within 48 hours if the body is going to be cremated.


if You Hire An Arkansas Funeral Director They Must Abide By This Single Rule

Every funeral conducted within the State of Arkansas must be under the personal supervision, direction, and charge of a funeral director who holds a valid license from this Board. To conduct a funeral shall require the direct personal supervision of a licensed funeral director until final disposition is completed. In the case of earth interment and above ground entombment, the licensee shall be onsite supervising all matters until completion of the earth interment or above ground entombment except when the authorizing agent has contracted with the cemetery either private, commercial, or governmental to carry out these procedures. In those cases, the licensee shall be on site supervising all matters until the conclusion of the funeral service only.  -- Rule II.1 Of The Funeral Board Of Funeral Service 

  • It is our understanding that If you want to have a home funeral in the State of Arkansas and feel like you must hire a licensed funeral director to assist you with any part of the process, at the point you hire their services, the Arkansas funeral director is obligated, by the regulatory board in Arkansas that governs funeral directors, to personally supervise the funeral until final disposition is completed, or until the end of the funeral ceremony if being buried in a private cemetery.
  • It is our understanding that supervising all matters would include the supervision of transporting the body from the place of death, bathing, dressing, and preparing the body for burial.


How Can I Have A Home Funeral And Work With My Local Funeral Director?

  • Notify your funeral director of your plans for a home funeral with the family involved in the burial process.  Due to the nature of home burials, It is best to preplan these arrangements.
  • At the time of death, your funeral director can transport your loved one from the place of death to your residence. The funeral director will stay on-site and assist you, or supervise as you prepare your loved one for burial. 
  • Within 24 hours after death, our funeral directors will supervise as you transport your loved one by private vehicle (if necessary) to the burial site.
  • You will do what you are comfortable doing, and your funeral director will be present throughout the process to assist in whatever manner necessary.
  • Another option is to have the body transported to the funeral home, you can bathe, dress, and casket your loved one at the funeral home facilities, and have the funeral director transport the deceased on the day of the services to the home for the visitation or funeral ceremony.


Vilonia Funeral Home and Cremation in Vilonia, Arkansas is an affordable funeral home and cremation service offering each family personal, respectful, and dignified service. Vilonia Funeral Home is a local funeral home that is family owned and operated by the Matos Family. For more information about how Vilonia Funeral Home and Cremation can save your family thousands on funeral and cremation costs, give us a call 24 hours a day at 501-796-2275 or come by the office at 1134 Main Street Vilonia, AR. 72173.  
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