Frequent Questions


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Click on the questions below to reveal each respective answer.

When a death occurs the executor or Power of Attorney usually is the one that steps forward to make arrangements for the funeral arrangements.  However, Power of Attorney stops at the time of death and the Executor isn't appointed until weeks later when the Will has been filed with the county. 

Currently in the Ohio Revised Code there is a priority list of who may authorize cremation, burials or other dispositions. The list, which is spelled out in Section 2108.81 of the Revised Code, establishes the following order of priority:

(1)The representative appointed by the decedent to have the right of disposition.

(2)The decedent's surviving spouse. 

(3)The decedent's surviving child or children. 

(4)The decedent's surviving parent or parents.

(5)The decedent's surviving sibling or siblings.

(6)The decedent's surviving grandparent or grandparents.

(7)The lineal descendants of the decedent's grandparents as spelled out in Section 2105.06 of the Revised Code.

(8)The decedent's personal guardian at the time of death.

(9)Any person willing to assume the right of disposition, including the personal representative of the estate or the licensed funeral director with custody of the body, after attesting in writing and good faith that they could not locate any of the persons in the above priority list.

In the event that several individuals of the same class cannot agree on funeral or disposition arrangements, the law permits the majority to control. Additionally, if an individual cannot be located, the majority of those who are available will control. For example, if a widow dies with five adult children, two of whom want cremation, one of whom wants burial and two of whom cannot be located, the children who opted for cremation would prevail.

If there is not a majority present to resolve a dispute, any party, including the funeral director, may petition the probate court to decide the issue. The probate court is given five factors in the statute to consider when rendering a decision as to who will control the disposition.

Loss of Right of Disposition. In order to exercise the right of disposition, an individual must be 18 years or older and mentally competent. Persons who have been appointed as a representative or who hold the right of disposition because of their relationship with the decedent will lose that right in the following situations:

*The person dies or is declared mentally incompetent by the probate court.

*The person resigns or declines to exercise the right of disposition.

*The person refuses to exercise the right within two days after notification of the decedent's death.

*The person cannot be located with reasonable effort.

*The person is charged with the murder, aggravated murder or voluntary manslaughter of the decedent.

*The person is charged with an act of domestic violence and it is alleged that the violence resulted or contributed to the decedent's death.

*The person is the spouse of the decedent and a petition for divorce has been filed and has not been dismissed at the time of death.

*The person is the spouse of the decedent and the probate court determines that the decedent and the spouse were "estranged" at the time of death.

Protections for Funeral Home. Primarily through the efforts of OFDA, HB 426 provides an extensive array of protections for funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories against lawsuits and claims by disgruntled family members. As long as employees of funeral homes, cemeteries or crematories are acting in good faith, they may rely upon statements made to them by persons claiming to have the right of disposition. Moreover, the statute provides immunity against lawsuits in the event that reliance was misplaced. For example, if a person misrepresents that they have the right of disposition, the funeral home will not be responsible for relying upon that misrepresentation unless it can be shown that the funeral director had reason to know that the misrepresentation was false.

The law also provides that a funeral director who is aware of a dispute regarding the right of disposition may refuse to accept the remains or to complete the funeral or disposition until the funeral director receives a court order or a written authorization from the person or persons who have the right of disposition. During a dispute, the statute authorizes the funeral director to embalm or refrigerate the remains in order to preserve them and to add those costs to the funeral bill. Moreover, if the funeral home must seek the intervention of the probate court, the funeral home may add its legal fees and court costs to the funeral bill.

In order to avail themselves of the protections afforded by HB 426, it is important that funeral homes document the claims of a person who represents themselves as the holder of the right of disposition. The most effective way to do this is to have the person arranging the funeral sign a Claim of Authority to Carry Out Disposition form which is available through OFDA. The new form tracks the wording of HB 426 and will help to demonstrate that funeral homes have acted in good faith in relying upon claims made by family members.

Funeral Costs. Another important lobbying victory for OFDA resulted in two important changes to Ohio law regarding funeral costs. First, HB 426 now establishes that a person who holds the right of disposition and purchases goods and services in exercising that right will be responsible for those costs. This means that a person who holds the right of disposition, but is unwilling or unable to pay the costs of the funeral and disposition, loses that right. As a result, funeral homes will not be required to take directions from relatives unless they are willing and able to pay for the funeral.

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FEMA Funeral reimbursement Frequently Asked Questions. 



Who can apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

You may qualify if:

You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who paid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020, and

The funeral expenses were for an individual whose death in the United States, territories or the District of Columbia, may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19.

A minor child cannot apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance on behalf of an adult who is not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

How do I apply?

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FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.

We are working to set up a dedicated toll-free phone number that can be used to apply for funeral assistance. You will be able to call this number to get an application completed with help from FEMA's representatives.

No online applications will be accepted.

Multilingual services and a TTY number will be available.

Once an applicant has applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and is provided an application number, they may provide supporting documentation to FEMA a few ways:

Upload to their DisasterAssistance.gov account

Fax documents

Mail documents

What funeral expenses are covered?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation. Any receipts received for expenses that are not related to funeral services will not be determined eligible expenses. Expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation typically include, but are not limited to:

Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual

Transfer of remains

Casket or urn

Burial plot or cremation niche

Marker or headstone

Clergy or officiant services

Arrangement of the funeral ceremony

Use of funeral home equipment or staff

Cremation or interment costs

Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates

Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances

I was responsible for funeral expenses for more than one person whose death was attributed to COVID-19. Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for more than one death? Is there a limit?

Yes, applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple deceased individuals.

Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application per state, territory, or the District of Columbia.

Someone else helped me pay for funeral expenses. Can they apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

FEMA will generally only provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance to one applicant per deceased individual.

To be approved for reimbursement of funeral expenses due to a COVID-19 fatality, you must have incurred funeral expenses for the deceased individual and have documentation (receipts, funeral home contracts, etc.) showing your name as the responsible party.

We recognize that multiple individuals may have contributed to funeral expenses for one deceased individual. FEMA will work with applicants in these situations and those who submit multiple receipts for funeral expenses when their name does not appear on the receipt.

If more than one individual contributed toward funeral expenses, they must register with FEMA under the same application as the applicant and co-applicant, or the first applicant that submits all required documentation will be awarded COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for the deceased individual. No more than one co-applicant can be included on an application.

If a minor child directly incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death and the documentation supports that payment, the minor child’s application could be reviewed for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even though I’ve already applied for a recent disaster event?

Yes. Applicants who recently applied for FEMA assistance for home and/or personal property damage from a disaster and also had funeral expenses for a death attributed to COVID-19 after January 20, 2020, may apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. A separate application will be required.

What is the deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA will communicate a specific deadline once established.

Documentation Needed

What information do I need to provide when I register?

The applicant responsible for COVID-19 funeral expenses will need to provide the following information below when they call FEMA to register for assistance. We recommend gathering this information now as we prepare to open the application process.

Social Security number for the applicant and the deceased individual

Date of birth for the applicant and the deceased individual

Current mailing address for the applicant

Current telephone number for the applicant

Location or address where the deceased individual passed away

Information about burial or funeral insurance policies

Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations

CARES Act grants and assistance from voluntary organizations

Routing and account number of the applicant’s checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if requested)

What documentation do I need?

You must provide a copy of the death certificate, proof of funeral expenses incurred, and proof of assistance received from any other source.

The death certificate must indicate the death was caused by, “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.

The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is not available for the funeral expenses of U.S. citizens who died outside the United States.

Documentation for expenses (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant’s name as the person responsible for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.

The applicant must also provide FEMA with proof of funds received from other sources specifically used for funeral costs. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance or financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government programs or agencies, or other sources. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance the applicant received for the same expenses.

Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of Funeral Assistance benefits.

The death certificate doesn’t attribute the death to COVID-19. How do I get a death certificate amended?

It is possible to change or amend a death certificate. This process starts with contacting the person who certified the death. This may be a treating doctor, a coroner or a medical examiner, and their name and address is on the death certificate. Applicants may present evidence to them to support the claim the death was attributable to COVID-19.

Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families.

Call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 for immediate help and support.

The American Red Cross is operating a Virtual Family Assistance Center to provide comfort, support, information and resource referrals for families that have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

All support will be provided virtually and is completely confidential. Call 833-492-0094 or visit the Virtual Family Assistance Center website.

Beware of Scams

Will FEMA contact me to ask for personal information to register?

FEMA’s Funeral Assistance Program has controls in place to mitigate fraudulent activity. FEMA will not contact anyone until they have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date or social security number of any deceased family member to any unsolicited telephone calls or e-mails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA.

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If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.

Last updated March 29, 2021

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