Chapter 2.15


2.15.010    Definitions.

2.15.020    Acceptance of responsibility.

2.15.030    Notification.

2.15.040    Provision of cremation at county expense.

2.15.050    Procedures.

2.15.060    Special account created.

2.15.070    Reimbursement of cost.

2.15.080    Recoupment of cost.

2.15.010 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “Final disposition” means the disposition of remains by earth burial in a recognized cemetery or cremation in accordance with the conditions set forth in the county’s contractual agreement with funeral establishments.

(2) “Funeral establishment” means a funeral establishment licensed under Chapter 18.39 RCW or a cemetery authority with a permit or endorsement issued under Chapter 68.05 RCW.

(3) “Indigent” means without assets sufficient to pay for the cost of burial as provided by this chapter.

(4) “Unclaimed” means family, friends or a church organization, are not claiming responsibility for final disposition of an indigent decedent, and the decedent is not survived by any of the following:

(a) A spouse;

(b) Adult children;

(c) Parents;

(d) Siblings;

(e) A person acting as the decedent’s representative under a signed authorization of the decedent. [Ord. 5-00 § 1]

2.15.020 Acceptance of responsibility.

(1) The county coroner, as provided in RCW 68.50.010, shall have the responsibility for accepting jurisdiction for the remains of a person that is unclaimed, if seven business days after the death of an indigent person, no person, relative or responsible officer of a church organization with which the deceased was affiliated (RCW 68.50.070) claims responsibility for the disposition of the decedents remains.

(2) Whenever friends, a church organization or appropriate relatives, who have legal responsibility for disposing of the remains, as identified in RCW 68.50.160, claim the body, Jefferson County will not accept jurisdiction or financial responsibility for disposition. [Ord. 5-00 § 2]

2.15.030 Notification.

The county coroner, with assistance from the county sheriff’s department and/or other law enforcement agencies, shall attempt to notify relatives, friends, or religious organizations that may desire to claim responsibility for the disposition of an indigent decedents remains. If no friends, relatives or church organizations can be found to accept responsibility for the disposition of the remains, the county coroner shall accept jurisdiction. [Ord. 5-00 § 3]

2.15.040 Provision of cremation at county expense.

The county coroner, after accepting jurisdiction for the disposition of indigent unclaimed human remains, shall arrange for the transportation and final disposition of such remains at county expense. [Ord. 5-00 § 4]

2.15.050 Procedures.

(1) The county administrator or his/her designee shall review and, after appropriate inquiry, grant or deny applications for the reimbursement of the cost of final disposition of the remains of any indigent person who dies within the county and whose body is unclaimed. Application shall be made in the form specified and provided by the county administrator. The person making the application shall certify that the application is for the payment of the cost of final disposition of a person who: (a) died within the county, (b) is indigent, and (c) whose body is unclaimed, and that the information contained therein is true under penalty of perjury.

(2) In determining whether an unclaimed decedent for whom application is made is indigent, the following shall be considered:

(a) The decedent’s estate and resources, including, but not limited to, real estate, personal property, cash, bank accounts, contents of safety deposit boxes, nursing home trust accounts, veterans death benefits, workmen’s compensation, Social Security death benefits, life insurance or burial insurance;

(b) Any person on public assistance at the time of his/her death is presumed to be indigent. [Ord. 5-00 § 5]

2.15.060 Special account created.

A special account to be known as the Jefferson County indigent remains account shall be created for the purpose of paying all or any part of the cost of burial of the remains of any indigent person who dies within the county and whose body is unclaimed. [Ord. 5-00 § 6]

2.15.070 Reimbursement of cost.

Upon approval of an application for reimbursement for the cost of disposal of the unclaimed remains of an indigent person, the county shall pay a sum in accordance with the county’s agreement with the funeral establishments. [Ord. 5-00 § 7]

2.15.080 Recoupment of cost.

It is the intent of this chapter to provide for disposal of the unclaimed remains at county expense only in those cases where there are no available funds belonging to the deceased, the deceased’s estate or held in trust for the deceased by any person or entity. In the event such resources are discovered after the county has paid for disposal of the remains, the prosecuting attorney is authorized to pursue recoupment of any amount expended by the county where such effort appears to be cost effective. [Ord. 5-00 § 8]