Title 23
Health and Safety

Chapter 4
Office of State Medical Examiners

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-4-10

§ 23-4-10. Disposition of deceased bodies.

(a) The office of state medical examiners shall, after any postmortem examination or any autopsy, promptly release the deceased body to the relatives, representatives or domestic partners of the deceased. The cost of transporting the deceased body to a mortuary within the state of the relatives’ or domestic partner’s choice shall be borne by the state if the autopsy was required to be performed as provided in this chapter. If there are no known relatives, representatives or domestic partners, the office of state medical examiners, after reasonable public notices, shall cause the body of the deceased person to be buried. The general treasurer of the state shall have first priority in recovering the expenses of burial from the estate of the deceased person.

(b) For the purpose of this chapter, “domestic partner” shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent’s death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

(1) Both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to contract;

(2) Neither partner is married to anyone else;

(3) Partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the state of Rhode Island;

(4) Partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of death; and

(5) Partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the following:

(i) Domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

(ii) Joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

(iii) Two (2) of the following:

(A) Joint ownership of motor vehicle;

(B) Joint checking account;

(C) Joint credit account;

(D) Joint lease; and/or

(iv) The domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent’s will, retirement contract or life insurance.

History of Section.
P.L. 1973, ch. 169, § 1; P.L. 1980, ch. 306, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 369, § 2; P.L. 2009, ch. 385, § 2.