What Happens with an Unclaimed Body?

by J-Stacknik

The average age of death of homeless persons is about 50 years.

When we see a homeless person on the street the majority of us tend to ignore them and hope they go away. We don’t want to think of a person living like that and we certainly don’t want to think about what happens to them when they become sick and die. Many of these people have no identification and so when they do die there is no one there to claim their body. Of course laws vary from country to country as far as what is done with an unclaimed body, but in North America there is a 72 hour period of time where every attempt is made to locate family members or friends. If attempts fail then the body is the responsibility or the county, state, or province.

Some funeral homes donate services for these individuals so that they can have a respectful decent burial. Many of the unclaimed are then buried in a Potter’s field which are plots of land for unclaimed and unidentifiable bodies. In some cases the cadaver is donated for medical science. There is a process involved in this however, first the teaching institution must officially apply, and each body must be accompanied by a burial permit. Each donated body must be properly registered by a licensed mortician prior to usage. The teaching school is responsible for all costs of transporting, registering and preparing the body for educational purpose.

In some cases, in the U.S., where the body is claimed but the claimants are unable to pay for transporting and burial the state will pay the cost of cremation and will ship the remains to the claimant at no cost to them.

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