It is our mission to provide a deserved, lawful, proper, and dignified manner of disposition for those decedent residents who are indigent or go unclaimed upon death. Otero County respects each individual in the community and will treat all with maximum regard and dignity.
Unclaimed or indigent deceased persons are the responsibility of the county of the deceased's residency. Indigent and Unclaimed deaths occurring in Otero County are governed by NMSA 1978 Chapter 24 Article 12 and 13, and Otero County Ordinance §140-13-M.
The responsibility of Otero County is to ensure the disposition of the deceased as quickly as possible, without a funeral, graveside services, committal services, or memorial services, whether public or private, and without embalming of the body unless embalming is required by the place of disposition. (NMSA 1978 §61-32-3(1)). Otero County provides for direct cremation only, except on a case-by-case basis.
The county shall ensure that the body is buried or cremated no later than thirty days after a determination has been made that the body has not been claimed, but no less than two weeks after death. If the body is cremated, the county shall ensure that the cremated remains are retained and stored for no less than two years in a manner that allows for identification of the remains. After the expiration of two years, the cremated remains may be disposed of, provided the county retains a record of the place and manner of disposition for not less than five years after such disposition. (NMSA 1978 §24-13-1).