“28. Temple Ordinances for Ancestors,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“28. Temple Ordinances for Ancestors,” General Handbook.
A bishop should consult with his stake president if he has questions about temples and temple work that are not answered in this chapter or in 38.5. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
Stake presidents and bishops help members prepare to have positive experiences performing ordinances for their deceased ancestors. They do this by teaching the doctrinal basis of temple work and ensuring members understand waiting periods and other policies related to temple work.
Generally, members may perform temple ordinances for deceased persons no sooner than one year after the date of death. If the deceased was born within the last 110 years and the person desiring to perform the ordinances is not a close relative (undivorced spouse, adult child, parent, sibling), he or she should request permission from a close relative before reserving temple ordinances.
Ordinances that are performed for the dead are effective only if the deceased person chooses to accept them and becomes qualified to receive them (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:19, 32–34).
For sealing policies, see 38.5.
Organized groups, such as families, wards, and stakes, who desire to participate in ordinances in the baptistry normally make arrangements with the temple in advance. One or more adults should accompany organized groups, making sure that there are a reasonable number of leaders representing each gender in the group. These adults should have valid temple recommends.
Brethren and sisters who assist in the baptistry do not need to be set apart as temple ordinance workers. Endowed brethren, unendowed Melchizedek Priesthood holders, and priests in the Aaronic Priesthood may perform baptisms.
Only endowed brethren may officiate in confirmations and serve as the recorder at the font or in the confirmation room.
Any member who holds a current temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend, may serve as a witness to a proxy baptism. These adults and youth may also help with baptistry assignments such as assisting patrons, distributing clothing and towels, and, where possible, recording baptism and confirmation ordinances in the computer system.
The one-year waiting period for proxy temple ordinances does not apply to deceased worthy members who would have gone to a temple but were prevented from doing so in life for reasons beyond their control. This may include children ages 8 and older and youth who were worthy at the time of death but had not received their endowment because they had not reached an appropriate age (see also 28.3.4). Such children and youth are not buried in temple clothing.
To have the ordinance performed, family members must have either the deceased person’s temple recommend that was valid at the time of death or a letter from the deceased person’s bishop certifying the person’s worthiness. The temple recommend or the letter should be presented at the temple before the ordinance is performed.
If a worthy member dies within the year after being baptized and confirmed, temple ordinances may be completed when one year has passed from the date he or she was confirmed (see 28.3.1).
Temple ordinances are not performed for stillborn children, but no loss of eternal blessings or family unity is implied. The family may record the name of a stillborn child in FamilySearch and indicate that the child was stillborn. Requests for help with recording a stillborn child in FamilySearch may be directed to a ward temple and family history consultant. For more information about stillborn children, see 38.7.11.
No baptism or endowment is performed for a child who died before age 8. Only sealings to parents are performed for such children. If the child was sealed to parents while he or she was living or if the child was born in the covenant, no vicarious ordinances are performed.
Temple ordinances for deceased persons who had intellectual disabilities and whose mental age and accountability are unknown are performed the same as for other deceased persons.
If it is known that a deceased person had intellectual disabilities and did not have a mental age of 8 or older, even if their chronological age was greater than 8, only the sealing-to-parents ordinance is performed for him or her. Additional proxy temple ordinances are not performed for people who were not accountable in life. (See Moroni 8:11–12; Doctrine and Covenants 137:10.)
Temple ordinances may be performed for a person who is presumed dead after 10 years have passed since the time of the presumed or declared death. This policy applies to (1) persons who are missing in action, are lost at sea, or have been declared legally dead; and (2) persons who disappeared under circumstances where death is apparent but no body has been recovered.
In all other cases of missing persons, temple ordinances may not be performed until 110 years have passed from the time of the person’s birth.
Persons who have taken their own lives may have temple ordinances performed for them one year or more after the date of death.
First Presidency approval is required to perform temple ordinances for deceased persons who, at the time of their death, had their Church membership withdrawn or had resigned membership. A family member should write a letter to the Office of the First Presidency. No form is required. The bishop or stake president may assist with this request as needed.
Sometimes a deceased person’s baptism and confirmation that were performed while he or she was living cannot be verified after a diligent search. If a person received the endowment by proxy but the baptism and confirmation they received while living cannot be verified, the person must be baptized and confirmed by proxy. It is not necessary to perform the endowment and sealings again after the proxy baptism and confirmation.
Endowed persons whose Church membership was withdrawn or who resigned membership and were later readmitted by baptism and confirmation can receive their priesthood and temple blessings only through the ordinance of restoration of blessings. Such persons are not ordained to any priesthood office or endowed again, since these blessings are restored through this ordinance. For information about performing this ordinance for the living, see 32.17.2.
First Presidency approval is required to perform this ordinance for the dead. Family members of the deceased person may request a restoration of priesthood and temple blessings for the deceased family member by writing a letter to the Office of the First Presidency. The bishop or stake president may assist with this request as needed.
Some persons were not endowed but were born in the covenant or sealed to parents before their membership was withdrawn or before they resigned membership. These persons do not need to be sealed again after being readmitted by baptism and confirmation.