When Death Occurs

1. What should one do when a death occurs?
 
2. What are the available methods of disposition?
 
3. What is embalming and its purpose?
 
4. Does the law require that a dead human body be embalmed?
 
5. How are remains donated?
 
6. Can I donate my organs without donating my entire body?
 
7. Can I change my mind about donating my body or organs after I commit myself?
 
8. What is meant by immediate disposition?
 
9. Can a body be cremated immediately following death?
 
10. What is done with cremated remains?
 
11. Can a family bury its own dead without using a licensed funeral director?
 
12. How do people select a funeral director?
 
13. How may I learn about funeral costs?
 
14. Is there a law that prohibits funeral directors from advertising?
 
15. Is there a law that prohibits funeral directors from solicitation at or near the time of death?
 
16. Do I have to buy a casket? How do I choose?
 

Question #1What should one do when a death occurs?
Answer:Arrangements for disposition of the deceased generally can be made by a spouse, next of kin or legal representative. Call your funeral director.

The normal sequence of events for handling a death is as follows:

Contact law enforcement officials if the death was unattended.
Death must be pronounced by a coroner, medical examiner or attending physician.
Contact relatives.
Locate deceased's letter of direction, prepaid funeral contract, insurance policy or will.
Contact a funeral director.
When a death occurs out of state or country it is advisable that you immediately contact a funeral director in your local area who will know the requirements that must be met, as well as help prevent duplications of service costs.

Question #2What are the available methods of disposition?
Answer:Human remains can be buried, entombed, cremated or donated for scientific study.

Question #3What is embalming and its purpose?
Answer:Embalming is the use of chemicals, internally and externally, to disinfect and temporarily preserve the body for open casket viewing and/or for the transfer of the body to distant destinations.

Question #4Does the law require that a dead human body be embalmed?
Answer:No. Texas law does not require embalming at any time. Most common carriers will require that a body be embalmed prior to shipping and the laws of the destination state will apply. Because of the rapid deterioration of a body after death, Texas Health Services Rules require that bodies held for over 24 hours or in transit must be embalmed, refrigerated, or encased in a leak and odor proof container.

Question #5How are remains donated?
Answer:Donation of human bodies to medical facilities can be made either directly to the facility, through a funeral establishment or by contacting:

Anatomical Board, State of Texas
UT Medical Branch H43
Galveston, Texas 77550
409-772-1293

There 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 which are provided by the funeral home.

Question #6Can I donate my organs without donating my entire body?
Answer:Yes. You may leave written or oral instructions regarding your wishes.

Question #7Can I change my mind about donating my body or organs after I commit myself?
Answer:Yes. 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 by written instrument.

Question #8What is meant by immediate disposition?
Answer:Immediate disposition is the interment, entombment or cremation of the remains without ceremonies. Immediate disposition usually includes transfer of the remains to the funeral home, preparation and filing of the necessary documents and transportation to the cemetery or transportation to and from the crematory.

Question #9Can a body be cremated immediately following death?
Answer:Texas law prohibits cremating any dead body within 48 hours after death. This time requirement may be waived in writing by the County Medical Examiner or a Justice of the Peace in counties without Medical Examiners.

Question #10What is done with cremated remains?
Answer:Cremated remains may be disposed of in a number of ways: privately scattered, scattered at sea, scattered by airplane in unpopulated areas, interred in a cemetery, placed in a niche in a columbarium, or kept by the family in their home.

Question #11Can a family bury its own dead without using a licensed funeral director?
Answer:A statement of death and a death certificate are legally required. Generally, local ordinances or deed restrictions prohibit burials within city limits. Check with the State Health Department and local zoning authorities for applicable laws.

Question #12How do people select a funeral director?
Answer:Almost always by reputation or availability. The way a funeral director serves families is readily known in most communities. If you need a funeral director and for some reason do not know one, the reference of a relative or friend who has been served satisfactorily is one wise way to make a decision. The best way is to know in advance whom you would select and then visit the funeral home, examine the facilities, meet the staff and understand the ways in which your needs will be served. After determining where to call, be prepared to ask questions concerning all aspects of funeral arrangements.

Prior to making funeral arrangements, you will need the following information:

Full name of deceased
Occupation
Date of birth
Place of birth
Social Security Number
Residence address
Spouse's name (maiden name)
Father's name, mother's maiden name
Place of burial or disposition
Discharge papers, if veteran

Question #13How may I learn about funeral costs?
Answer:Funeral establishments are required to give current retail price information.

Obtaining information:

Any consumer entering an establishment and making inquiries is entitled to the retail price list. By law, you must be presented a retail price list 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 which the customer may keep, 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, including separate prices for cremations with alternative containers, cremations with a purchaser supplied container, and a description of the services and container included in each price.
The price range for immediate burials, including separate prices for immediate burials with alternative container or caskets, immediate burials with a purchaser supplied container, and description of the services and container or casket included in each price.
Transfer of remains to funeral home
Embalming
Other preparation of the body
Use of facilities and staff for viewing, funeral ceremony, memorial service, and/or graveside service
Hearses
Limousines
Caskets
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

The retail price list must include the name, address and phone number of the establishment, the effective date of the price list and a notice stating: "You may choose only the items you desire. If you are charged for items you did not specifically request, we will explain the reason for the charges on a written memorandum. Please note that there may be charges for items such as cemetery fees, flowers and newspaper notices." After 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.

Question #14Is there a law that prohibits funeral directors from advertising?
Answer:No, but 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 Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division and your local Better Business Bureau.

Question #15Is there a law that prohibits funeral directors from solicitation at or near the time of death?
Answer:Yes. 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 person or the person near death.

Question #16Do I have to buy a casket? How do I choose?
Answer: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. The only warranties, express or implied, granted in connection with casket products are the express written warranties, if any, extended by the manufacturers.

Wade Family Funeral Home • 4140 West Pioneer Parkway • Arlington, TX 76013 • (817) 274-9233