Definition: “Indigent” means that the remains of the deceased are claimed by next of kin, but those relatives are in need of assistance financially to complete the disposition. There are numerous Wyoming Statutes that govern indigence, with specific statutes regarding both veterans, and non-veterans. While the law allows the County to assist financially in both unclaimed and some indigent cases, there are specific requirements and policies in place in that regard.

Copy of the Fremont County Indigent and Unclaimed Burial Policy: Indigent Policy

Please Note: A significant specific Statute states that as per W.S. § 42-2-103(c) the State of Wyoming Department of Family Services is responsible for burial or cremation of those indigent persons receiving aid under POWER (Person Opportunities With Employment Responsibilities) program, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or Medicaid at the time of death. Fremont County cannot assist in funding disposition in these cases by law, and assistance from Wyoming DFS must be applied for by the family involved. Contact the local DFS office for information.

In cases of indigence where the County can assist, it is the responsibility of next of kin to certify and submit an affidavit attesting to that indigence when making application to the Fremont County Commission for financial assistance. To assist in explaining and directing to all sources of income that must be considered, we have prepared an information handout: Indigent Resources

The Application to the Commission must be filled out, signed and notarized: Indigent Application

The application is submitted to the Fremont County Commission, and you may be asked to appear before the Commission to discuss the application and financial need. Funeral Homes are permitted to act and make submissions on the family’s behalf, using the same application. Please note that by policy, the maximum amount of assistance from the County is capped at $1500.00 in order to pay for basic disposition, not additional funeral services, markers or locations.

Definition: “Unclaimed” is when the body of the deceased is not claimed for disposition by friends or relatives, or a deceased is unidentifiable, unknown, or no next of kin can be found after due diligence by the coroner’s office. The Wyoming Statute that governs such remains is as follows –

7-4-207. Disposition of body and effects of deceased. When the coroner investigates the death of a person whose body is not claimed by a friend or relative within five (5) days of the date of discovery and whose death does not require further investigation, he shall cause the body to be decently buried. The expense of the burial shall be paid from any property found with the body. If no property is found, the expense of the burial shall be paid by the county in which the investigation occurs.

“Unclaimed” remains become the responsibility and possession of the County, with disposition at the discretion and choice of the County. If relatives or friends choose not to claim remains, they are not subject to any financial responsibility for the disposition, but also forfeit all rights to any say or choice in that disposition. If unclaimed, our office will release that information and name to the public as part of our efforts to seek a claimant. Also, per the above Statute, the Coroner’s Office will see to the disposition as expeditiously as possible on all remains not claimed after five days. Once disposition and interment occurs, and should friends or family choose to reclaim the remains at a later date after the process is completed, those persons are responsible for reimbursing the County and cemetery for all costs of disposition, disinterment, or transport; and must acquire on their own all appropriate permitting for moving the remains.

Veterans: As is their due, a different set of Wyoming Statutes are in place to ensure that veterans receive disposition and burial with appropriate respect, if honorably discharged after their term of service. State law requires that all unclaimed veterans are buried in the closest veteran’s cemetery, which for this area would be the Oregon Trail State Veteran’s Cemetery near Casper, WY. The Coroner’s Office has procedures in place to make sure this is accomplished as soon as possible after the conclusion of the case.

Indigent cases may also take advantage of this opportunity as interment in the veterans cemetery is at no charge. Our office can provide information and assist in getting this accomplished.

Additional Notes: Due to the limited storage capacity of county facilities, storage fees may start to accrue 48 hours after the investigation is completed and a body has been officially released by our office, per policy approved by the County Commission, if no disposition process has been started.  RESOLUTION.fees

Ethics and Responsibility: As is appropriate, the law provides that society will see to the disposition and burial of all citizens without friends or family to take care of them after death. Society also expects that those with the responsibility for next of kin also take care of them after death if there are assets to do so. If our office notes any unethical avoidance of that responsibility by taking advantage of the social system when there are adequate assets involved, those cases will be referred to the Fremont County Attorney for investigation.