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. Some funeral homes will not allow a visitation or wake for a body that has not been embalmed.

Who Can Authorize Embalming?

Who has the right to control the disposition of human remains, which includes authorization to embalm, is determined by a person's relationship to the deceased as follows:

  • Funeral agent named in the Will of the deceased person
  • Surviving spouse, New Jersey licensed civil union or registered domestic partner
  • Surviving children over the age of 18 (majority needed)
  • Surviving parent(s)
  • Surviving siblings, if there are no children or parents (majority needed)
  • Other next-of-kin according to bloodline