The disposition of remains in Texas is an important matter. Still, without the necessary legal planning that an experienced Texas estate planning attorney can offer, it can be challenging to ensure that your preferences will prevail.
Many people have particular desires regarding the final disposition of their remains –or how they will be buried or cremated, as the case may be. Still, others have basic preferences that they would like to be carried out, and there are specific legal guidelines that can help ensure that you or your loved one’s wishes are handled appropriately. To learn more about the final disposition of remains in Texas, contact the compassionate, understanding, and dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC at 512-505-2753 today.
Option 1: Make Your Own Choices
In the State of Texas, the instructions you leave regarding your remains do matter, and they are controlled by written documents as outlined below (in the following order):
- Your legal and binding Last Will and Testament (will)
- Your prepaid funeral contract
- Any relevant written document that you had notarized
Barring any of these forms of written instruction, the disposition of your remains will be determined by your agent for disposition of remains in Texas, which refers to the following (in this order):
- Your surviving spouse
- Any one or more of your surviving adult children
- Either (or both) of your surviving parents
- Any one or more of your surviving siblings
- Any one or more of the executors or administrators of your estate
- Any adult who is your next of kin according to the order delineated by the state’s law to inherit
Unless your preferences and specific instructions are in writing (as described), the person left in charge of the disposition of your remains can ignore your preferences and instructions. In other words, your wife is not legally obligated to follow through with the careful instructions you laid out for her verbally.
Option 2: Skip the Funeral Director
In Texas –just like in every other state –it is legal to keep a loved one’s body at home after his or her death. You need not involve a licensed funeral director in making and carrying out the person’s final arrangements. The State of Texas does, however, require that anyone who takes custody of a body file a Report of Death form –within 24 hours of gaining custody of said body –with the local registrar of vital statistics. If final disposition will not occur within 24 hours of death, the body must be either embalmed, refrigerated, or sealed within a container. If there is no next of kin to make arrangements for the disposition of remains in Texas, the body must be embalmed within 24 hours. Other considerations to keep in mind include:
- If the deceased died of a contagious disease, you should consult with a doctor.
- If you plan to transport the body on a common carrier, such as a train or plane, it must be embalmed or be contained in an airtight metal casket that has a strong outside shipping case or is contained in a sound casket, encased in an airtight shipping case that is either metal or metal-lined.
It is important to point out that people rarely go to these lengths when it comes to the disposition of remains in Texas, and the vast majority of people use the services of licensed funeral homes.
Option 3: You May Be Able to Bury Your Loved One at Home
As mentioned, Texas has no laws that directly prohibit you from burying your loved one at home, but your local government may have specific rules in place regarding such burials. If your goal is to establish a family cemetery on your property, it may be an option, but you must check the zoning laws in the town or county where you reside. You are far more likely to be allowed a home burial if you live in a state’s rural area.
Option 4: Cremation
An increasingly popular option for the disposition of remains in Texas is cremation. There are a variety of important reasons why people are consistently turning to cremation, including:
- Many families have become so widespread throughout the country that it is less common for loved ones to live in the same part of the United States, which makes burying family members in the same cemetery more complicated.
- Our national culture has become far more accepting of cremation, and some religions that once prohibited cremation have altered their stances on the subject.
- Cremation is far more eco-conscious than burial, which appeals to many, many people.
- As a culture, we have come to embrace a more individualized approach to memorializing the passing of our loved ones, which has taken the focus off of traditional graveside services.
- Cremation is considerably less expensive than burial and is more easily arranged.
It is not difficult to understand why more and more people choose cremation as part of their final arrangements.
Remember, If You Have Specific Preferences, Make Them Known
If, for example, cremation is important to you, it is imperative to leave this preference in writing (as discussed above). The fact is that the person who ultimately makes your final decisions for you (if you have not memorialized your preferences in writing) may believe he or she knows better and can proceed according to his or her preferences. Instead, let us say that you would like a traditional burial with bagpipes, a beloved song, and/or anything important to you. If this is the case, leaving your preferences in writing remains your best option.
Turn to an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney Regarding the Disposition of Your Remains
Your preferences regarding the disposition of your remains are essential–whether they are as basic as simply requesting cremation or are highly specific –and the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is by including them in your will. At Ibekwe Law, PLLC, the dedicated estate planning attorneys understand the sensitive nature of the disposition of remains in Texas. We are well prepared to help ensure that your preferences prevail. For more information about how we can help, please do not wait to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.