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Dealing With Death

The following resources are designed to provide information regarding your options when a death occurs.  We recommend you obtain private legal counsel regarding decisions about estate planning and distribution. 

Department of Health
Death Certificate Ordering Information
     Center for Health Statistics     
     P.O. Box 9709
     Olympia, WA 98507-9709
     (360) 236-4313

Federal Trade Commission  
Free, electronic publications regarding your rights as a consumer
     Funerals: a Consumer Guide (electronic publication)
     Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods and Services (electronic publication)

The FTC is interested in receiving written complaints about problems with purchasing funeral goods and services 
     https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Department of Licensing
The department licenses funeral homes and cemeteries in Washington state. On their website you can:

  • Find out if a funeral director, embalmer, cemetery, or funeral establishment has a valid license;
  • Learn how to file a complaint against a funeral director, embalmer, cemetery, or funeral establishment; or
  • See a list of funeral and cemetery licensees who have been disciplines for licensing violations.

LifeCenter Northwest Organ Donor Program
Facilitating the recovery and receipt of organ donations; also offers family support services and online organ donor registration
     Toll-free 1-877-275-5269

Washington State Bar Association
Pamphlet program offers pamphlets on wills, trusts and probate. To obtain a free copy, send a self-addressed stamped envelope for each title to:
Washington State Bar Association
1325 Fourth Ave., Ste. 600
Seattle, WA 98101-2539
(206) 727-8200

Washington State Funeral Directors Association
Industry association provides online consumer information including things to think do when a death occurs and a directory of funeral homes

Relevant State Laws and Rules
The following links are provided for those that wish to research applicable Washington State laws and rules.  These pages are written in legal language which has specific legal meanings. It is always wise to check with professional legal or financial counsel. 

The Funeral Industry Practices Trade Regulation Rule (or Funeral Rule) is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.  The Washington State Attorney General's Office enforces applicable areas of the Washington State Consumer Protection Act.  Although neither the Federal Trade Commission nor the Washington State Attorney General's Office can represent individual constituents, they do occasionally take action against funeral service providers for violations of the above mentioned acts.  If you believe that you have been a victim of an unfair or deceptive act or practice, you are welcome to file a complaint. 

For all other questions regarding the information contained in the provided links, please contact a private attorney. 

Revised Codes of Washington:
Available in your local library, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) may be referred to when one has specific questions regarding Washington State laws. Here is a listing of some of the RCWs that relate to Dealing with Death:

     RCW 18.39.215 - Embalming
     RCW 11.12.260 - Gift by List
     RCW 70.122 - Living Will
     RCW 11.62 - Affidavit of Successor, small estates
     RCW 18.39.250 - Prearrangement Funeral Service Contracts
     RCW 18.39 - State Funeral Directors
     RCW 68.46 - Regulations for Cemetery Operations
     RCW 11.20 - Probate
     RCW 83.100 - Estate Tax

Washington Administrative Code:
The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) also contains rules which pertain to this booklet. You can search the Washington State Legislature Search Page for:

     WAC 246-500 - Handling of Human Remains (includes refrigeration, cremation and transportation of human remains)

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