A June 5 article examining area regulations on home funerals contained a spelling error in the Virginia section that changed the meaning. It should have said, "The medical examiner provides a permit for cremation," not "creation." (Published 7/7/2005)

There are no statutes outlawing home funerals in the District, Maryland or Virginia, but each jurisdiction spells out criteria that must be met.

District

A death certificate, stating the cause of death, must be signed by the family doctor or medical examiner within 48 hours and filed with the local registrar within five days. The body must be buried or cremated within one week; the next of kin signs the authorization. If death was caused by a contagious or infectious disease, a licensed funeral director must handle disposition. Home burial is generally not feasible.

Maryland

When death takes place at a hospital or nursing home, the institution supplies the death certificate. In other cases, the next of kin must obtain a blank certificate from the Division of Vital Records, get it signed within 24 hours by an attending doctor or medical examiner, and file it with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene within 72 hours. Consult the attending doctor for deaths caused by a contagious disease. No schedule for final disposition is specified. The county health departments and zoning boards oversee home burials.

Virginia

A death certificate must be signed by the family doctor or medical examiner within 24 hours, then filed with the local registrar within three days -- and before final disposition. Consult the attending doctor for deaths caused by a contagious disease. No time schedule for final disposition is specified. The medical examiner provides a permit for creation, usually for $50. No separate permit is required for burial.

Source: Lisa Carlson's "Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love" (Upper Access, 1997).