Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1953 NO. 85 >

1. State institutions have no authority to embalm, bury, cremate or otherwise dispose of unclaimed bodies of deceased inmates. 2. The jurisdiction of unclaimed bodies of deceased inmates is vested in the coroner of the county in which the inmates died. 3. The primary responsibility for the payment of the funeral costs rests with the relatives of the decedent or his estate.  If they are not financially able the county must provide for the disposition of the remains, ultimately, the department of public assistance must pay the cost of burial of indigent persons irrespective of whether or not they have been recipients of public assistance. 4. A state institution must obtain authorization from the county coroner before the institutional medical staff can perform an autopsy on the unclaimed body of a deceased inmate.

AGO 1956 NO. 269 >

Physicians and/or surgeons cannot legally remove the eyes of deceased welfare recipients for the purpose of transplanting the corneas of the eyes into the eyes of living persons unless the particular decedent is some manner directs or provides in his will that this be done.