Death, Burial, and Texas Law
Because most of us do not like to talk about death, people often die leaving their loved ones uncertain about their responsibilities and the wishes of the recently deceased. In an effort to make things easier, here are some frequently asked questions about death burial and Texas law.
Who Is Required to Bury Me if I Die?
That depends. Generally, your immediate family is responsible for seeing that you are buried. The order of responsibility among your family members is:
- Your spouse first.
- Followed by your adult children.
- Your parents.
- Your siblings.
- And then finally your heirs.
If you want to relieve your family members of this responsibility, you can sign a directive telling what you want to be done after you die. This directive may be part of a prepaid funeral plan, or it may be included in your will. If you leave specific instructions about how you want to be buried, the funeral home will carry them out.
If you die without any family, your county of residence will usually see that you are buried. Although if you are indigent the county must be notified of your death within 24 hours or it can refuse to handle your burial.
Who Has to Pay for My Burial?
The general rule is that your family is responsible for the cost of your burial. However, you may purchase a prepaid funeral plan or funeral insurance to cover the cost.
What if I Want to Be Cremated?
As is the case with burial wishes generally, you may specify that you want to be cremated, either in your will or in a prepaid funeral contract. Alternatively, the Health and Safety Code has a simple form allowing you to appoint a particular person as your agent to see that you are cremated after you die.
How Can I Donate My Organs?
Texas law provides two ways to donate your organs after you die. The easiest way is for you to make arrangements before your death. All adults (and children who have their parents’ consent) may make an anatomical gift and may even specify who is to receive the organs after death. This decision to donate one’s organs after death may be stated in a will, in a separate document, and even on a driver’s license. If a person dies without making an anatomical gift. Then the deceased person’s family generally has the right to determine whether or not to donate his or her organs.
What Is a Prepaid Burial Plan?
Most funeral homes allow you to make arrangements for your burial in advance. Because you are making decisions about your own burial, you relieve your family and friends of the need to make these arrangements. After all, it’s sure to be a stressful time, and you can make sure that your wishes are carefully followed. A prepaid burial plan requires that you pay for the services you purchase in advance. However, many plans allow you to pay the bill out of the eventual proceeds of a life insurance policy. State law requires a funeral home to disclose the costs. Costs of any plans you are considering must be disclosed before you sign the contract to purchase it.