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April 16, 2024 Clear | 45°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide forthwith for the cremation of certain unclaimed bodies, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 43M of chapter 114 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:- 

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary and for the purposes of this section, a board of health may serve as the duly authorized representative for the purpose of requesting cremation of unclaimed remains by signing a cremation form under the following circumstances: (i) the unclaimed remains shall be in a location that is within the jurisdiction of the board of health; (ii) the board of health has received notice from a licensed funeral director that either no person has come forward to claim the remains or that no person may legally claim the remains; provided, however, that the board of health shall wait 30 days after such notification under this clause prior to signing the cremation form. The unclaimed remains shall then be viewed by a medical examiner or forensic investigator designated by the chief medical examiner pursuant to section 14 of chapter 38, who shall authorize such cremation only when no further examination or judicial inquiry concerning the death is necessary. The office of the chief medical examiner may waive the fee set forth in said section 14 of said chapter 38 for cremation authorizations pursuant to this section. There shall be no liability for a board of health or an employee, agent, or licensee thereof that authorizes the disposal of unclaimed remains in accordance with this section. Nothing in this section shall supersede the obligations of the office of the chief medical examiner as set forth in this chapter and chapter 38.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect as of July 1, 2018.

Approved, August 9, 2018.