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Indigent Burial

As of 2014:


The law designates each county’s Public Administrator as the place of last resort for body disposition. Usually the Coroner or the Sheriff’s Department can give instructions. Each county will have its own procedure. California State law requires relatives of the deceased to provide for the disposition of the remains (Health and Safety Code sections 7100 and 7103). Failure to act in a timely manner is a criminal misdemeanor violation and result in the next of kin being required to pay up to three times the cost of the disposition. 


The general order of priority for the duty of disposition of remains and the liability for reasonable costs is:

1. Agent under durable power of attorney 

2. Spouse

3. Adult children

4. Parent

5. Adult siblings

6. Public Administrator


If the deceased and next of kin are both unable to pay for the disposition, the county will bury or cremate per its procedure. Usually they will verify via paychecks, income taxes, or a credit check. No service or viewing is allowed, and remains will not be returned to the family. If buried, the burial site will be marked with a reference number only. Veterans are usually interred in a military cemetery plot.

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