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Clay County Indigent Cremation Program

Clay County Indigent Cremation Policy
Revised February 2021

The Indigent Cremation Program is managed by the Clay County Public Administrator on behalf of the Clay County Commission. This is a program of last resort, and the policy will only be utilized in the most extreme cases of poverty, lack of family connections, and/or abandonment. According to the laws of the State of Missouri, next-of-kin have the responsibility of the right of sepulcher for a deceased person, so the indigent cremation policy can only be utilized in the most extreme cases.

194.119. Right of sepulcher, the right to choose and control final disposition of a dead human body. — 1. As used in this section, the term "right of sepulcher" means the right to choose and control the burial, cremation, or other final disposition of a dead human body.

2. For purposes of this chapter and chapters 193, 333, and 436, and in all cases relating to the custody, control, and disposition of deceased human remains, including the common law right of sepulcher, where not otherwise defined, the term "next-of-kin" means the following persons in the priority listed if such person is eighteen years of age or older, is mentally competent, and is willing to assume responsibility for the costs of disposition:

(1) An attorney in fact designated in a durable power of attorney wherein the deceased specifically granted the right of sepulcher over his or her body to such attorney in fact;

(2) For a decedent who was on active duty in the United States military at the time of death, the person designated by such decedent in the written instrument known as the United States Department of Defense Form 93, Record of Emergency Data, in accordance with P.L. 109-163, Section 564, 10 U.S.C. Section 1482;

(3) The surviving spouse;

(4) Any surviving child of the deceased. If a surviving child is less than eighteen years of age and has a legal or natural guardian, such child shall not be disqualified on the basis of the child's age and such child's legal or natural guardian, if any, shall be entitled to serve in the place of the child unless such child's legal or natural guardian was subject to an action in dissolution from the deceased. In such event the person or persons who may serve as nextof-kin shall serve in the order provided in subdivisions (5) to (9) of this subsection;

(5)  (a) Any surviving parent of the deceased; or

(b) If the deceased is a minor, a surviving parent who has custody of the minor; or

(c) If the deceased is a minor and the deceased's parents have joint custody, the parent whose residence is the minor child's residence for purposes of mailing and education;

(6) Any surviving sibling of the deceased;

(7) The next nearest surviving relative of the deceased by consanguinity or affinity;

(8) Any person or friend who assumes financial responsibility for the disposition of the deceased's remains if no next-of-kin assumes such responsibility;

(9) The county coroner or medical examiner; provided however that such assumption of responsibility shall not make the coroner, medical examiner, the county, or the state financially responsible for the cost of disposition.

Clay County will pay for the disposition of a deceased person’s remains at the funeral home of the County’s choice. Payments will be made to the funeral home and/or provider for cremation services only. No payments will be made to a third party. The body must already be located in the Kansas City area. Clay County will not incur costs of transportation. The Clay County Public Administrator must approve all applications.

  • The deceased must not have combined assets totaling at or over $1,000.00
  • The deceased must not own any taxable personal property or real property.
  • The deceased must meet qualifications to receive public assistance, even if the deceased was not receiving assistance at the time of their death. The Missouri Department of Social Services will confirm eligibility.


The deceased must be a resident of Clay County, Missouri.

The following will be considered to determine residence qualifications:
  • Where the deceased resided on a daily basis, including but not limited to if they had a lease, paid room and board or rent.
  • Where the deceased paid taxes.
  • Where the deceased listed their residence for official purposes such as on a State of Missouri official identification or for correspondence with a federal agency.
  • Where the deceased’s non-taxable personal property is located.
  • Whether a criminal or probate court in a county of the state of Missouri or Kansas has previously or currently assumed jurisdiction over the deceased.
  • Where the deceased died.

Other considerations:
  • Any and all assets of the deceased must be turned over to the Clay County Public Administrator and these assets will be utilized to reimburse Clay County, Missouri for the expenses related to the cremation of the deceased and internment of their remains.
  • Remains will be released pursuant to Missouri Revised Statute 194.119.
  • If no one collects the remains, then one year after the date of cremation (or at the earliest convenient date after one year after cremation), Clay County will arrange for the final disposition of the cremated remains. The disposition can include but is not limited to being scattered at a scatter garden or pond, being interred, or being placed in a crypt, and the disposition could occur on public or private property.

This document constitutes the policy of the Clay County Indigent Cremation Program. However, it is not intended to be controlling and dispositive for each and every circumstance, and the Public Administrator’s office reserves the right to exercise its discretion upon investigation and interpretation of the totality of the facts and circumstances when administering the Indigent Cremation Program.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Andrea Pilgrim with the Clay County Public Administrator’s Office at 816-407-3250.

- For applications or inquiries, contact Andrea Pilgrim by phone at 816-407-3253 or contact us via email form.

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There are approximately 350 people in Clay County, Missouri under guardianship and conservatorship with the Public Administrator's Office.


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