[Skip to Content]
National Memorial Planning - Homepage

How Long Can You Delay a Funeral?

When a death occurs, especially if it is an unexpected death, it can take time to make the necessary funeral arrangements, gather the funds for funeral expenses, or wait for family members, relatives and friends to reach from different cities or countries. There could be multiple reasons why you may not be able to conduct a funeral soon after death, and in such cases, just how long can you delay the funeral for?

In the U.S., funerals are usually held three to seven days after the death of the person. Sometimes, it may take even two weeks to have a funeral. It depends on your personal situation such as availability of funds, your religious beliefs, the final wishes of the deceased, etc.

No laws on when funeral should be held

If you need to delay a funeral, for how long can you delay it? In the U.S., there is no law that states the minimum or maximum number of days you have after someone’s death to hold a funeral. This means that you can delay a funeral for as long as you need to.

However, as soon as someone dies, their body starts to decompose, which is why holding a funeral ceremony is usually time-sensitive. But thanks to modern preservation processes like embalming and refrigeration, families of the deceased have more time to make funeral arrangements. If you have a freezer or a refrigeration unit to preserve the body, it is even possible to delay the funeral indefinitely.

Personal beliefs and religious considerations

Some religions require the body to be buried within just a day or two. If the deceased belonged to such a religion or if their personal beliefs are in alignment with this, it is best to make arrangements that honor their last wishes.


Thanks for reading,