When choosing cremation as the final form of disposition, the individual(s) with the right to control may be asked to identify the deceased. This can be done through a physical inspection or via a photograph.
If identification proves to be too difficult a task for family members, a person can be appointed to do this for you. Be sure to inform the funeral director in writing of your intention including the name of this individual and their relationship to the deceased.
If you refuse to identify the body or appoint a representative you may be asked to sign a waiver.
Ways of Identification
There are a few ways for you to identify the deceased.
Physical Identification. The body may be in a casket or container. It may not have been embalmed, dressed in normal attire or clean-shaven. If there was a post-mortem examination, the funeral director probably will warn you about visual manifestations of trauma or disfigurement.
Photo Identification. The funeral director may ask for your written permission to take a photo of the deceased to show you for identification purposes. Or, the funeral director may ask you to bring in a current photo of the deceased that can be kept at the funeral home. In either case, you may be asked to sign the back of the photo, attesting to the identification of the deceased.
Alternatives to Visual Identification. If the body is badly decomposed or mutilated the funeral director may show you photos of scars, tattoos or physical deformities for identification purposes. In some cases, dental records are used to identify the person. When there is advanced decomposition or a violent death the medical examiner or another agency often will establish the identity of the remains.
Following the identification, you or your representative probably will be asked to sign an identification form. The form will outline the identification scenario and may include questions like the ones below:
[ ] The undersigned, having been provided the opportunity to physically view the body, do positively identify same as that of the (person named above).
Identification occurred: Date _________ Time _______ Place ________
[ ] Identification is not required as decedent died at his/her residence or with family in attendance at the time decedent was transferred by our staff to our funeral home.
[ ] Identification was made by photograph of the decedent by request of and/or with permission of the next of kin, with said photograph being made a permanent part of the decedent’s funeral home file.
[ ] Identification was made through the Medical Examiners Office, using DNA, dental records and/or fingerprints.
The form will most likely require your signature and the date of the identification.