Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Explaining the 110 Year Rule

Note: The links in this post may only work for those who have an LDS Access account to

The 110 Year Rule for doing Temple ordinances for deceased ancestors is stated as follows:
To do ordinances for a deceased person who was born in the last 110 years, the following requirements must be met.
  1. The person must have been deceased for at least one year.
  1. You must either be one of the closest living relatives, or you must obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives. If you are not a spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased, please obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives before doing the ordinances. The closest living relatives are an undivorced spouse (the spouse to whom the individual was married when he or she died), an adult child, a parent, or a brother or sister.
Verbal approval is acceptable. Family members should work together to determine when the ordinances will be done and who will do them.
Another statement on the subject in contained in the Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work (2012) pp. 29-36. Here is an excerpt:
Before you perform ordinances for a deceased person born within the last 110 years, obtain permission from the closest living relative. Relatives may not want the ordinances performed or may want to perform the ordinances themselves. The closest living relatives are, in this order: a spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings.
One very serious complaint I frequently hear from family historians is the fact that their near relatives, fathers, mothers, grandparents etc., have their Temple ordinances done by people who they do not know and in some cases, cannot identify. Some people have had their own deceased children's ordinances done by non-family members. This can be an extremely traumatic occurrence for those who are just beginning to have an interest in family history. They go on the FamilySearch Family Tree program for the first time to try an do the ordinances for a parent, sibling or child and find that the ordinance were already done, sometimes within days of the date of the person's death. Violation of this rule is not just an inconvenience. It is a serious issue with the families who suffer the consequences of other's violation of the 110 Year Rule.

If a person desiring to do the ordinances asks the family member for permission and is denied, it is not excusable to "shop around" and try and find another family member who is willing to give permission. This is true even if the family members are not members of the Church. Just because the closest family members are not members of the Church does not relax or excuse the Rule. Here is a quote from the Brigham Young University, Religious Education course, Religion 261, Lesson 6:
  • You may perform temple ordinances for deceased persons one year or more after the date of death without regard to the person’s worthiness or cause of death if you have permission from the closest living relative.
  • 110 Year Rule: if a person was born within the last 110 years, you must receive permission to do the ordinances. You must receive permission from (in this order) a spouse, adult children, parents, and siblings. You cannot circumvent a family member if they have withheld permission. If none of these relatives are living, you still must wait until the individual was born more than 110 years ago in order to do their ordinances.
  • Do not perform ordinances for people to whom you are not related (famous people, holocaust victims, and names from unauthorized extraction programs)
This Rule is fair to all concerned. It gives those who are seeking to do Temple ordinances for their immediate family members a chance and the opportunity to do those ordinances themselves.


  1. It seems like every time a celebrity dies, the 110-year rule is broken. Sometimes within days of the death. Elvis Presley's work has been done several times. I very much doubt that Lisa Marie has joined the Church, or was asked for her consent.

    1. Many of these celebrities are being "locked" so no changes or work can be done. FamilySearch is also cracking down of those who violate the 110 year rule by locking them out of FamilySearch. So this won't go on so much in the future.

  2. I recently messaged FamilySearch through their Help Center about the 110 year rule. This was my questions and their response.

    My questions:
    When an individual was born within the last 110 years and all their closest living relatives are also deceased, what is the policy? The person's spouse is deceased, adult children deceased, parents deceased and all siblings deceased. Can the temple work be requested by the direct descendant now, or do they need to wait until 110 years have past since the individuals birth?

    Thank you for contacting Family Search about permissions under the 110 year rule.
    If the spouse, siblings and children are deceased then the permission is sort from the oldest grandchild. If there are no grand children then you would get permission from a living niece or nephew and so on down the line.

    James, I am interested in how BYU ( came up with the info on the 110-year rule - "If none of these relatives are living, you still must wait until the individual was born more than 110 years ago in order to do their ordinances."

    I cannot find this in the official Religion 261 manual - which temple work is lesson 7:

    Nor is it found in the Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work (student nor instructor). Nor is it listed in the official Church Policy as found in the Temple Submission process in FamilySearch.

    I am trying to seek clarification for those whom I teach. Any insight would be helpful. Thanks!

    1. The rule doesn't provide exceptions — it's all spelled out carefully when you click to reserve ordinances — and it really shouldn't because everyone already thinks they're the exception to the rule.

      Just the other night I heard a woman whose family converted to the Church puzzle over the fact that some unknown person had claimed her father's temple work and was busy doing it, and there's no chance that this person got permission from a family member. In order to reserve those ordinances, someone had to lie, and why lie about temple work? I really don't understand that.

      In terms of deceased friends and distant relatives not getting their temple work done, it will happen eventually. We have a big "out" designed into our understanding of the doctrine of temple work: the millennium, when all unfinished work will be done, so although I understand the importance of doing the work, both for ourselves and for our dead, I don't understand why people feel the need to lie and subvert the directions of the First Presidency in order to do it.

      The President of the Church holds the keys to the sealing power, but the ordinances must be done under his direction and attended by the Holy Ghost to be valid, so isn't it important to make sure that everything is done correctly, honestly, and in accordance with the directions about who is eligible to do which work?

      Why is doing the temple work for Holocaust victims — or the person you mention with no close living relatives — more important that respecting the keys of the sealing power? The thought makes reason stare.

  3. 'This rule is fair to all'. I disagree, and my guess is that there are those beyond the veil who are having to wait out the 110 year rule because we didn't want to risk offending a relative. This rule hurts the deceased than anyone else.

    1. There are many reasons for the 110 year rule and your comment ignores most of them.

  4. Do we need permission to submit work for any family members who were born more then 110 years ago?