Facts about funerals in the
state of Texas
Consumer Brochure Provided by
TEXAS FUNERAL SERVICE COMMISSION
Submitted by Debbie Tincher
Family Service Counselor
Hawthorn Funeral home Carthage, TX 75631
requirements when a death occurs
Contact local law enforcement official if the death was unattended.
A determination of death must be made by a coroner, Justice of the Peace, or
When a death occurs out of state or country it is recommended a funeral director
in your local area be contacted who will know the requirements that must be met
if a body is to be shipped to another location.
There are legal limitations regarding solicitation by a funeral director at or
near the time of death.
means any direct or indirect contact with the family, next of kin, or one who
has custody of a person who is deceased or near death for the purpose of
securing the right to provide funeral services or merchandise for the deceased
or person near death, What to do when a death occurs
Locate deceased's letter of direction, prepaid funeral contract, insurance
policy and/or will.
filing a death certificate, you will need the following information:
name of deceased
name (maiden name)
name, mother's maiden name
of burial or disposition
papers, if veteran
Steps to take to ease the burden
of funeral planning prior to death
Advise your family and loved ones of your wishes, by recording your wishes.
You may prearrange your service with your funeral director.
spouse, next of kin or legal representative generally can make arrangements for
disposition of the deceased.
Available methods of disposition
remains can be buried, entombed, cremated, or donated for scientific study.
A family can bury its own dead
without using a licensed funeral director
statement of death and a death certificate are legally required. Generally,
local ordinances or deed restrictions prohibit private burials within city
limits. Check with the
Health Department and local zoning authorities for applicable laws.
A body cannot be cremated
immediately following death without a waiver
law prohibits cremating any dead human body within 48 hours after death. The
County Medical Examiner or a Justice of the Peace may waive this time
Cremated remains may be disposed
of or kept in a number of ways:
in a cemetery
in a niche in a columbarium
by the family in their home
How to donate remains
of human bodies to medical facilities can be made either directly to the
facility, through a funeral establishment or by contacting the:
Board, State of Texas
is a set fee for donations, which is paid by the Anatomical Board. However, this
may not cover the cost of any additional services selected that are provided by
the funeral home.
can change your mind about donating your body or your organs
to death, a person can revoke his or her donation by destroying or canceling the
instructions or by alternate instructions to the next of kin or the person
Embalming and its purpose
is the use of chemicals, internally and externally, to disinfect and temporarily
preserve the body. Texas law does not require embalming. Most common carriers
will require a body to be embalmed prior to shipping. The laws of the
destination country or state will
Because of the rapid deterioration of a body after death, Texas law requires
that bodies held for over 24 hours or in transit must be embalmed, refrigerated,
or encased in a leak and odor proof container.
select a funeral director
you need a funeral director, the reference of a relative or friend who has been
served satisfactorily is one way to make a decision. The best way to know in
advance whom you would select is to visit the funeral home, examine the
facilities and ask about prices. Consider all alternatives and consult several
different firms/organizations to compare costs. Be prepared to ask questions
concerning all aspects of the funeral arrangements.
How to learn about funeral costs
establishments are required to give current retail price information by
telephone. By law, any consumer entering an establishment and making inquiries
must be presented a general price list, which the customer may keep, itemizing
the costs of funeral services and the merchandise for sale from a funeral
director. These retail prices, appearing on a printed or typewritten list must
specify at least the charges for the following items, provided they are
available for purchase through the establishment:
Forwarding or receiving remains, to or from another funeral home and a list of
services provided for the stated price
The price range for direct cremations
The price range for immediate burial
Other preparation of the body
Use of facilities and staff for viewing, funeral ceremony, memorial service,
and/or graveside service
Outer burial containers, such as vaults, grave liners, and boxes. Such outer
enclosures are not required by law, but may be required by the cemetery
Additionally, the general price
list must include the following:
Name, address and phone number of the establishment.
The effective date of the price list.
Notice stating: "You may choose only the items you desire. If you are
charged for items that you did not specifically request, we will explain the
reason for the charges on the written memorandum. Please note that there may be
charges for items such as cemetery fees, flowers and newspaper notices."
completing all funeral arrangements, you must be given a written funeral
purchase agreement, signed by the funeral director who assisted you, which lists
the items you selected from the general price list and the cost of each item.
price of each casket must be stated and varies depending on the type. Caskets aŁe
not required by law, however, there may be cemetery or mausoleum restrictions
regarding caskets and outer burial containers or vaults. The law does not
require a casket for cremation but some type of container such as a cardboard
box or canvas pouch is usually required by the crematory.
are constructed from various materials including steel, copper, bronze, and
wood. There is no direct relationship between the protective features of the
casket and the preservation of the body.
regarding advertising by funeral directors
protection statutes require all advertising to be factual and clear in content.
Any misrepresentations should be reported to the Texas Funeral Service
of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, or your local Better
Information regarding prepaid
funeral contracts are governed by Chapter 154 of the Texas Finance Code and are
under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Banking. Such contracts are
being marketed extensively and offer the opportunity to permit a person to fully
consider his or her needs and wishes and control the cost and nature of funeral
services desired. The contracts
vary in terms and coverage and should, like any other purchase involving a
substantial sum of money, be reviewed carefully before execution.
law requires that any seller of contracts for prepaid funeral arrangements must
first apply and obtain a permit from the Texas
Department of Banking.
not contract with any seller who does not have such a permit, and make certain
that the proposed contract meets the minimum Texas legal requirements, including
that a fund has been created for the proceeds from prepaid contracts through a
contract of insurance with an insurance company licensed in Texas, or that such
trust fund is established in a bank or savings and loan association operated
under the provisions of the Texas Trust Act.
deposit fund is established with a financial institution approved by the Texas
Department of Banking, or a fund is created by a life insurance or annuity
contract with an insurance company authorized to do business in the State of
Texas. If a life insurance or annuity contract is used, the Texas Department of
Insurance must license the person who sells you the policy and the insurance
company issuing the policy. In addition, you are entitled to receive a copy of
the policy and should be sure that you understand the benefits, limitations, and
exclusions. You can telephone the Texas Department of Insurance at
1-800-252-3439 or 512-463-6515 for license information on both agents and
assistance in interpreting policy language.
a deposit fund arrangement, the purchaser can cancel the contract prior to
maturity and receive a refund in accordance with the terms of the contract. If
you have a life insurance or annuity arrangement, you may receive only the cash
surrender value, if any, as indicated in the insurance policy or annuity and the
prepaid contract. Read and understand the
cancellation language in the policy or annuity and in the prepaid contract.
On a deposit arrangement any unpaid balance would become due at the time of the
on the type of insurance policy or annuity contract used to fund the prepaid
funeral contract, expenses may not be paid in full. If you are unsure, question
the seller and/or the Texas Department of Banking or the Texas Department of
you decide or need to change funeral homes and the prepaid funeral contract is
in a deposit fund you may have to cancel your contract and make other
arrangements. If the
contract is funded by a policy of insurance you may be able to transfer the
contract and keep the insurance policy allowing you to choose another funeral
establishment. Talk with the seller of your prepaid contract and the funeral
director of the funeral home you wish to use. Make sure all parties are in
agreement and be sure to get a copy of any such agreement in writing. and
contact the insurance company regarding the change.
are entitled to receive all items shown on the contract at no additional charge,
if the terms of the contract have been met. There may be additional charges for
items that are not
of the prepaid contract. These may include cemetery fees, such as lowering
equipment, opening and closing the grave, and burial vaults. You should discuss
with the seller
that are not covered.
a funeral home that sold trust funded prepaid funeral benefit contracts goes out
of business, or misappropriates prepaid funds, what happens would depend on
whether the funeral home was a licensed seller or not. If the funeral home held
a valid permit when the prepaid funeral contracts were sold, the Texas
Department of Banking would take over the contracts and find a subsequent
provider. Any shortages to the fund would be covered by the Prepaid Funeral
Guaranty Fund. However, if the funeral home was an unlicensed seller, the Texas
Department of Banking will take actions in coordination with the local District
Attorney to try to recover the prepaid funds through restitution. The purchaser
can suffer a financial loss in this situation because the Prepaid Funeral
Guaranty Fund can NOT be used.
you have additional questions regarding prepaid funerals, please contact:
Department of Banking, Special Audit Div., 2601 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas
78705-4294,(512) 475-1290 or 1-877-276-5554, fax (512) 475-1288. Website: www.banking.state.tx.us
Department of Insurance, Consumer Help Line, P.O. Box 149104, Austin, Texas,
78714-9104,(512) 463-6515 or 1-800-252-3439
may secure additional information regarding mortuary laws in the State of Texas
by requesting a complete copy of the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 651, and
the Commission Rules, by contacting the Texas Funeral Service Commission at P.
0. Box 12217, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas, 78711, (512)936-2474 or
1-888-667-4881, fax (512) 479-5064.
Who to contact if you have a
complaint against a funeral director or a funeral establishment
discuss your problem with the funeral director and/or management of the funeral
establishment. If you believe you were not treated fairly the funeral director
should be given the opportunity to rectify your complaint. If this is not
acceptable, you may provide the facts in writing to:
Texas Funeral Service Commission. This is the licensing and regulatory
agency for all funeral establishments, funeral directors, and embalmers in the
State of Texas. Complaints should specify the exact nature and circumstances of
the complaint. you will be notified of the receipt of your complaint.
Allegations are reviewed for a violation of Chapter 651, Texas Occupations Code.
If there is not a violation of the Code, you will be notified in writing. Once a
complaint is opened for investigation the complainant is notified every three
(3) months until the complaint is resolved.
Send complaints to the Texas fune4al Service Commission, P.O. Box 12217,
Capitol Station, Austin Texas 78711 Enclose
all copies of all documents, you may have received from the funeral