Embalming and the Preservation of Remains

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Embalming is a process used to temporarily preserve the body for a viewing. Natural fluids are removed from the body and replaced with synthetic liquid to delay the natural decay process. Embalming is not intended to preserve the body indefinitely.

Embalming is not required in the state of New Jersey, but some funeral homes may require it for a public viewing. New Jersey’s health laws do require that bodies be buried, cremated, embalmed or refrigerated within 48 hours after death.

When Is Embalming Required?

New Jersey law requires embalming when there are no plans to bury, cremate, or refrigerate a body within 48 hours of death. 

The person(s) with the right to control the disposition of human remains also can authorize embalming, and is determined by a person’s relationship to the decedent as follows:

  1. Funeral agent named in the decedent’s will, codicil to a will or in a form approved by the New Jersey Cemetery Board previously executed by the decedent.
  2. Surviving spouse, New Jersey licensed civil union or registered domestic partner 
  3. Surviving children over the age of 18 (majority needed)
  4. Surviving parent(s)
  5. Surviving siblings, if there are no children or parents (majority needed) 
  6. Other next-of-kin according to bloodline