requirements when a death occurs.
do when a death occurs.
you need before filing a death certificate.
take to ease the burden of funeral planning prior to death.
methods of disposition and other information.
and its purpose.
select a funeral director.
learn about funeral costs.
regarding advertising by funeral directors.
regarding prepaid funeral contracts.
Funeral Service Commission
General of Texas, Consumer Protection Division
- Cremation and The
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- Texas Department of
Criminal Justice - General Information Guide for Families of Offenders
Legal requirements when a death
Contact a local law enforcement official if the
death was unattended.
A determination of death must be made by a
coroner, Justice of the Peace, or attending physician.
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.
Solicitation 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.
Things you need before filing a
Full name of deceased
Date of birth
Place of birth
Social Security number
Spouse's name (maiden name)
Father's name, mother's maiden name
Place of burial or disposition
Discharge 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
A spouse, next of kin or legal representative
generally can make arrangements for disposition of the deceased.
Available methods of disposition
and other information
Human remains can be buried, entombed, cremated,
or donated for scientific study.
A family can bury its own dead without using
a licensed funeral director
A body cannot be cremated immediately following
death without a waiver.
Cremated remains may be disposed of or kept in a
number of ways:
How to donate remains
Donation of human bodies to medical facilities
can be made either directly to the facility, through a funeral
establishment or by contacting the:
Anatomical Board, State of Texas
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, Texas 77555-1301
There is a set fee for donations, which is paid
be the Anatomical Board. However, this may not cover the cost of any
additional services selected that are provided by the funeral home.
You can change your mind about donating you body
or your organs
Prior 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 designated in the written
Embalming and its purpose
Embalming 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 apply. 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.
How to select a funeral director
If 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
Funeral 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.
The 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 state
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
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 notice."
After completing all funeral arrangements, you must
be given a written funeral purchase agreement, signed by the funeral
director who assisted you selected from the general price list and the
cost of each item.
The price of each casket must be
stated and varies depending on the type. Caskets are 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.
Caskets 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.
establishments offer a fiberboard box which is sometimes covered in
cloth as an alternative to purchasing a metal casket. Not all funeral
establishments offer this "casket" and the price for the same item will
differ from establishment to establishment. State law requires that all
funeral establishments display the least expensive casket offered for
sale by the establishment in the same manner as the other caskets are
Funeral establishments must prominently display
the consumer brochure FACTS ABOUT FUNERALS.
advertising by funeral directors
Consumer protection statutes require all
advertising to be factual and clear in content. Any misrepresentations
should be reported to the Texas Funeral Service Commission, the
Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, or
your Better Business Bureau.
Information regarding prepaid
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.
Texas law requires that any other seller
of contracts for prepaid funeral arrangements must first apply and
obtain a permit from the Texas Department of Banking.
Do 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.
A 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 companies or for assistance in
interpreting policy language.
In 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 of 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 funeral. Depending on the type of
insurance policy or annuity contract used to fund the prepaid 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 Insurance.
Should 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
prepaid 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.
You 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 part
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 items that are not covered.
If 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 Guarantee 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 Guarantee Fund can not be used.
If you have additional questions regarding
prepaid funerals, please contact:
Texas Department of Banking, Special Audit
2601 North Lamar Blvd.,
Austin, TX 78705-4294
(519)475-1290 or 1-877-276-5554, ext. 1290
fax (512) 475-1288,
Texas Department of Insurance, Consumer Help
P.O. Box 149091
Austin, TX 78714-9091
(512) 463-6515 or 1-800-252-3439
You 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
Texas Funeral Service Commission
P.O. Box 12217
Austin, TX 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
First, 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:
The Texas Funeral Service Commission. This is
the licensing and regulatory agency for all funeral establishments,
funeral directors, and embalmers in the State of Texas. A complaint
should specify the exact nature and circumstances of the 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
complaintant is notified every (3) three months until the complaint is
resolved. Send complaints to Texas Funeral Service Commission.
Enclose copies of all documents you may have received from the funeral
Attorney General of Texas, Consumer
Protection, PO Box 12548, Austin, TX 78711, (512) 463-2070
The local Better Business Bureau
The Federal Trade Commission, Dallas
Regional Office, 1999 Bryan Street, Suite 2150, Dallas, TX 75201, toll
Transporting the Deceased
options for carrying a crematory container with you on your flights:
- Carry-on: You are allowed to
carry-on a crematory container, but it must pass through the x-ray
machine. If the container is made of a material that prevents the
screener from clearly being able to see what is inside, then the
container will not be allowed through the security checkpoint.
- Checked Baggage: You may
transport the urn as checked baggage provided that it is successfully
screened. TSA will screen the urn for explosive materials/devices
using a variety of techniques; if cleared, it will be permitted as
checked baggage only.
note the following additional
- Out of respect for the
deceased, the screener may not open the container under any
- Crematory Container
containers are made from many different types of materials, all with
varying thickness. At present, TSA cannot state for certain
whether your particular crematory container can successfully pass
through an x-ray machine. However, TSA suggests that you purchase
a temporary or permanent crematory container made of a lighter weight
material such as wood or plastic that can be successfully x-rayed.
The TSA will continue to work with funeral home associations to
provide additional guidance in the future.
- Please check with your
air carrier about other restrictions that may apply.
Transportation of Deceased - Other
methods (e.g. coffins)
check with air
carrier to determine their policies and procedures
Information Guide for Families of Offenders
Non-Medical Emergency Absences
A non-medical emergency absence is a
privilege granted to an offender who demonstrates trustworthiness and
industriousness, and who is considered by TDCJ to be an acceptable
security risk for temporary release under escort for a particular
period allowed by law. Granting a request for a non-medical emergency
absence is a discretionary decision made by TDCJ with public safety
being the prime consideration. The offender absent on emergency leave
under escort is considered to be in the custody of TDCJ and the
offender must be under constant physical guard while absent.
Non-medical emergency absences may be
granted to approved offenders for attending the funeral of an immediate
family member, visiting a funeral home to view a deceased immediate
family member, or visiting a critically ill immediate family member. An
immediate family member is defined as the offender’s parents, spouse,
siblings, half-siblings, and children. Surrogate parents are included
if the relationship of the surrogate to the offender is verifiable from
established TDCJ files.
Offenders normally will not be approved for
a non-medical emergency absence unless they meet strict guidelines.
These guidelines include being at least Line Class 1 G3 custody with no
major disciplinary penalties during the last 6 months, no disciplinary
history of assaults on staff, within 12 months of parole eligibility,
in TDCJ custody for 6 months, and having no unresolved pending felony
or U.S. Immigration detainer. Additionally the offender must not have
been incarcerated in or sentenced to an adult correctional facility for
committing, soliciting, attempting, conspiring or aiding others to
commit, solicit, attempt, conspire to commit certain offenses to
Homicide (Capital Murder; Murder; Voluntary
Manslaughter; or any other homicide offense)
(Aggravated Kidnapping; Kidnapping; False Imprisonment; or any other
Sex Assault (Rape;
Sexual Assault; Sexual Abuse; Aggravated Rape; Aggravated Sexual Abuse;
or any other sexual assault offense to include Indecency with a Child)
Aggravated Robbery; or any other robbery offense)
Assault (Assault; Aggravated Assault; Injury to a Child,
Injury to an Elderly Person; or any other assault offense)
Escape (Any escape offense from
an adult correctional facility)
offense in which the offender used or exhibited a deadly weapon during
the commission of the offense or during the immediate flight therefrom
and where an affirmative finding on use of a deadly weapon was made by
the trial court or jury.
State Jail offenders must be at a minimum J2
custody. Offenders must have been in TDCJ custody for six months or for
one-third of their sentence, whichever comes first.
All emergency absences are granted under
TDCJ escort and must be completed within 24 hours of departing the
unit/facility. Emergency absences requiring an overnight stay may not
be granted and no out-of-state emergency absences will be granted. An
offender may be released on emergency absence 2 times during a 12-month
Emergency absence requests should be
directed by the attending physician or funeral home director to
Classification and Records via FAX at 936-437-8721.