Doña Ana County

Indigent Burials

Indigent Burials

Phone: (575) 525-5848
Fax: (575) 525-5922
Email: hhsprogramops@donaanacounty.org

Doña Ana County, Health and Human Services Department administers the Unclaimed/Indigent Cremation Program for deceased persons who have passed away within the geographical boundaries of Doña Ana County. The mission is to provide lawful and proper burial with dignity for those decedent residents who are indigent or go unclaimed upon death. Doña Ana County respects each individual in the community and will treat all with maximum regard and respect. 

Click here for a list of indigent/unclaimed persons in Doña Ana County. (updated 01-12-2016)

The below local funeral home is under contract with Doña Ana County to provide direct cremation only.

Baca’s Funeral Chapels and Sunset Crematory
300 E. Boutz Road
P.O. Box 6
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005
(575) 527-2222

PLEASE NOTE: This program does not assist with funeral expenses, viewing at the funeral home or any other service at the funeral home or a place of worship, neither before nor after cremation.

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY

Eligibility for the Unclaimed/Indigent Cremation Program is based on the deceased person who must meet all three of the requirements listed below per New Mexico State Statute upon death:

  1. Indigent Status

Deceased persons shall be considered to be an indigent if his/her estate is insufficient to cover the cost of burial or cremation (NMSA 1978 §24-13-2).

  1. Doña Ana County Resident

A resident is defined as someone who has lived in Doña Ana County for a minimum of six months prior to the time of passing. If the deceased person is declared indigent, cremation expenses shall become the responsibility of the county of residence of the deceased person (NMSA 1978 §24-13-3).

  1. If the decedent is not a resident of Doña Ana County at the time of death, Doña Ana County cannot proceed any further and will send/direct to the appropriate county of residence.
  2. In the event that the decedent’s primary residence is out of the state of New Mexico, but he or she passes away in Doña Ana County, the occurrence will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
  1. Property/Assets Ownership

For the purposes of NMSA 1978 §24-13-2, decedents are deemed indigent when they do not own property/assets of sufficient value to cover the cost of burial or cremation. If the decedent is unclaimed (no known next of kin) and had known assets or property of sufficient value to defray the expenses of cremation or burial, per NMSA 1978 §24-13-3, invoices for the expenses shall be forwarded to such person or official authorized by law to be appointed administrator of the estate of the deceased to pay expenses from the estate. Doña Ana County shall not accept personal belongings and/or items accompanied with indigent burial decedents, therefore Doña Ana County is not responsible for such items.  

SERVICES PROVIDED

The responsibility of Doña Ana County, under state statute, is to provide direct cremation only. This is defined as the disposition of a dead human body as quickly as possible, without a funeral, graveside services, committal services or memorial service, whether public or private, and without embalming of the body unless embalming is required by the place of disposition (NMSA 1978 §61-32-3(I.)). The county shall ensure that the body is cremated no later than 30 days, after a determination has been made that the body has not been claimed, but no less than two weeks after death (NMSA 1978 §24-13-1).

If the decedent has known legal next of kin, in accordance with state statute, he or she must acknowledge and adhere to the county program’s policies and procedures of disposition, and have no further say in the proceedings. At that time, in adherence with the program’s procedures and policies of disposition, Doña Ana County will then assume the responsibility for proper disposition (NMSA §24-12A-2).

RELEASING OF CREMATED REMAINS

The cremated remains may be released, provided the cost of cremation has been reimbursed, in full, to Doña Ana County, no earlier than ninety days following the date of death and no later than a period of two years from the time of cremation; cremains will be held by the current contracted funeral home during this time. If the decedent is a veteran, the reimbursement date may be expedited, pending verification from the Office of Veteran Affairs.

Please note: If the veteran decedent qualifies for burial in the Santa Fe National Cemetery, the burial of cremated remains may occur when the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services claims them, which may be prior to two years after the date of death, and/or prior to any other party interested in reimbursement for releasing.