In Massachusetts, as in all states, it is entirely legal to take care of your loved one in your home after they die. Most home funeral families have a vigil for one to three days. In Massachusetts there is a law that a person cannot be cremated until 48 hours after death. Rather than pay to have your loved one at a funeral home or crematory, this is the perfect time to have a vigil in the home.
MA and 40 other states allow families to do the paperwork and transport their loved one to final disposition, that is, to a crematory or cemetery. In nine "restrictive" states -- CT, IL, IA, IN, LA, NY, MI, NE, NJ -- laws have been enacted that prohibit families from carrying out these tasks. For more information, see this white paper on the National Home Funeral Alliance site:
Since this old tradition is, in modern days, still fairly new, most state, city, and town officials and institutions (hospitals, nursing homes) have yet to experience a family wanting to hold a home funeral. Their lack of knowledge sometimes requires families and advocates to educate those with whom they need to work.
It is vital that, when possible, a family member or advocate inform any officials (hospice, hospital, primary care doctor, etc.) before the death about the family's plans to hold a home funeral.