Part 5. Disposition of Unclaimed Bodies.

130A-415. Unclaimed bodies; bodies claimed by the Lifeguardianship Council of the Association for Retarded Citizens of North Carolina; disposition.

(a) Any person, including officers, employees and agents of the State or of any unit of local government in the State, undertakers doing business within the State, hospitals, nursing homes or other institutions, having physical possession of a dead body shall make reasonable efforts to contact relatives of the deceased or other persons who may wish to claim the body for final disposition. If the body remains unclaimed for final disposition for 10 days, the person having possession shall notify the Commission of Anatomy. Upon request of the Commission of Anatomy, the person having possession shall deliver the dead body to the Commission of Anatomy at a time and place specified by the Commission of Anatomy or shall permit the Commission of Anatomy to take and remove the body.

(b) All dead bodies not claimed for final disposition within 10 days of the decedent's death may be received and delivered by the Commission of Anatomy pursuant to the authority contained in G.S. 130A-33.30 and this Part and in accordance with the rules of the Commission of Anatomy. Upon receipt of a body by the Commission of Anatomy all interests in and rights to the unclaimed dead body shall vest in the Commission of Anatomy. The recipient to which the Commission of Anatomy delivers the body shall pay all expenses for the embalming and delivery of the body, and for the reasonable expenses arising from efforts to notify relatives or others.

(b1) The 10-day period referenced in subsections (a) and (b) of this section may be shortened by the county director of social services upon determination that a dead body will not be claimed for final disposition within the 10-day period.

(c) Should the Commission of Anatomy decline to receive a dead body, the person with possession shall inform the director of social services of the county in which the body is located. The director of social services of that county shall arrange for prompt final disposition of the body, either by cremation or burial. Reasonable costs of disposition and of efforts made to notify relatives and others shall be considered funeral expenses and shall be paid in accordance with G.S. 28A-19-6 and G.S. 28A-19-8. If those expenses cannot be satisfied from the decedent's estate, they shall be borne by the decedent's county of residence. If the deceased is not a resident of this State, or if the county of residence is unknown, those expenses shall be borne by the county in which the death occurred.

(d) No autopsy shall be performed on an unclaimed body without the written consent of the Commission of Anatomy except that written consent is not required for an autopsy performed pursuant to Part 2 of this Article.

(e) Due caution shall be taken to shield the unclaimed body from public view.

(f) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, an unclaimed body shall not mean a dead body for which the deceased has made a gift pursuant to Part 3A of this Article.

(g) Nothing in this Part shall require the officers, employees or agents of a county to notify the Commission of Anatomy regarding the bodies of minors who were in the custody of the county at the time of death and whose final disposition will be arranged by the county. In the absence of notification, the expenses of the final disposition shall be a charge upon the county having custody.

(h) The provisions of this Part shall not apply to bodies within the jurisdiction of the medical examiner under G.S. 130A-383 or 130A-384.

(i) In addition to the other duties of the Commission of Anatomy, when the Commission of Anatomy is notified by the Lifeguardianship Council of the Association of Retarded Citizens of North Carolina, Inc., that the Council intends to claim a body, the Commission shall release the body to the Council. The Lifeguardianship Council shall notify the Commission of Anatomy within 24 hours after death of its intent to claim a body for burial or other humane and caring disposition. (1975, c. 694, s. 3; 1977, c. 458; 1983, c. 891, s. 2; 1987, c. 470; 1989, c. 222; c. 770, s. 75; 2008-153, s. 7.)