Cremation in Texas: Comprehensive Review 2021
Cremation is on the increase across the United States, including the state of Texas.
Texas was “the state with the highest cremation rate between 2006 and 2011”, courtesy of the Cremation Association of North America. The rate of cremation in Texas is currently over 38%, and it is expected to increase beyond 40% in 2021.
Nationally, the cremation rate grew by 32 percent in 2005 compared to 61 percent for funeral burials. It is expected to grow to about 55 percent in 2021 and will surpass traditional burial at around 38 percent.
The increase is due to cost-benefits, eco-friendly benefits, personalization, and flexibility in the choice of cremation services and timing.
1. Cremation in Texas Laws
In Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 716, Crematories; “Cremation” refers to an irreversible process where human remains are reduced to bone fragments over a direct flame with extreme heat and evaporation.
Cremation may also include pulverization, which refers to identifying, reducing, and processing human bone fragments into granulated particles using mechanical or manual means.
Cremation in Texas is governed by Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC). The commission may establish consistent rules with Chapter 716 and Chapter 651 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
These cremation rules may include:
- Location of the crematory.
- Acceptance of a deceased or decedent human remains
- Waiting period before cremation is carried out
- Procedures for establishing a crematory
- Cremation authorization requirements of a crematory establishment.
- Delegation of authority for cremation authorization
- Exceptions (underwritten directions) upon which cremation authorization may not be required
- Identification and receipt of human remains
- Receipt that acknowledges the acceptance of human remains
- Identification responsibilities of a crematory
- Identification responsibilities of a funeral director
- Cremation procedures
- Cremation process
- Simultaneous cremation
- Cremation of human remains containing pacemakers or other potentially dangerous implants
- The use of an urn or temporary container.
- Release of human remains
- Disputes and liability of authorizing agent, funeral establishment, crematory establishment, cemetery, funeral director, or other persons.
- Immunity from civil and criminal liability
- Maintenance records by the crematory establishment
- Disposition of the cremated remains.
- Commingling of the cremated remains
- Scattering of the cremated remains in a designated area.
- Penalty for offenses on cremation
You must understand the meaning of certain terms used in cremation in Texas laws, as explained below.
- Authorizing agent –
A person who is authorized or approved to dispose the remains of a decedent.
A Cemetery refers to a place which is expected to be utilized for the interment of a deceased human body, and it includes a graveyard, mausoleum, or other areas with one or several graves.
- Cremated remains:
Cremated remains refer to the human remains recovered after a cremation process is completed.
Cremated remains may consist of the residue(s) of all non-human matter or elements cremated alongside the deceased, including the casket material, eyeglasses, bridgework, or other materials.
A crematory is a structure that contains a cremation chamber that is used or expected to be put into use for the cremation of mortal or human remains.
- Cremation chamber:
A cremation chamber refers to a retort enclosed exclusively used for the cremation of the deceased human body.
Cremation container refers to any container or casket designed to convey a deceased body, as well as, to place it in the cremation chamber throughout cremation.
- Crematory establishment:
A crematory establishment refers to a business licensed to operate a crematory.
- Funeral director:
A funeral director refers to a licensed individual or representative of a person that engages in the preparation (except embalming) of a deceased body for disposition or burial.
- Funeral establishment:
A funeral establishment refers to a business place used in preparing for the transportation or burial of a deceased human body OR any place that a person or representative of a person engages in the funeral directing business embalming.
- Human remains:
Human remains refer to the body of a decedent.
Remains refer to either human remains or cremated remains.
- Scattering area:
Scattering area refers to an area or territory marked for scattering remains cremated.
It includes specific cemetery property upon which remains cremated could be placed over the ground cover, soil, or blended and then buried inside a receptacle underground.
- Temporary container:
A Temporary container refers to a receptacle consisting of plastic, cardboard, or similar items designed for temporarily storing cremated remains till the cremated remains are deposited in another permanent container or an urn.
An Urn refers to a container created or designed for permanently storing cremated remains.
Cremation costs in Texas
With greater reasons, more Texans are relying on the internet for comparing the costs of cremation in Texas.
Traditional funeral services, which are the most popular and preferable, are expensive compared to cremation. The costs of cremation in Texas vary and depend on various factors.
Family members searching for an affordable cremation should discuss the available options that suit their budget prior to making decisions.
However, on average, generally, the costs of cremation services in Texas are estimated to be between $945 and $3,000.
What factors affect the total cost of cremation in Texas?
Several factors may affect the estimated costs of cremation which include:
- Crematory establishment:
To a large extent, this is among the major factors that affect the costs of cremation in Texas.
Ensure you understand precisely what is included in the contract document of the crematory establishment and what constitutes additional costs.
Check for reviews on the cemetery establishment. This may help influence your decision.
- Transporting the deceased human body:
A fee is charged for transporting or conveying the dead human body to the crematory.
The fees vary with the distance between where the deceased human body is losing in a state to where it is to be cremated. It is recommended you choose a local crematory establishment that is closer to you.
- Preparing the deceased human body:
A dead human body is prepared and stored before cremation. Texas law on cremation prohibits the cremation of a human body within 48 hours after the body is confirmed dead.
A delay in the cremation process increases the number of days the body is stored in the morgue, mortuary, or funeral home; therefore, in addition to the cost of preparing the deceased body, the estimated costs of cremation increase.
- Cremation process:
Cremation starts immediately after the deceased human body is available for cremation. The costs of cremation vary with the type of cremation-cremation with a traditional funeral service, cremation with a memorial service, and cremation without a ceremony (direct cremation).
Direct cremation is cheaper and cost-effective as there is no funeral service. Memorial cremation saves you money on caskets and embalming, but it also costs you some money to host your family and friends and execute.
Cremation with a traditional service is more expensive than direct and memorial cremation as the deceased human body is present at the wake, visitation, and funeral service.
With the dead human body present at the visitation, the body is embalmed to preserve it for family and friends to view and pay their last respect.
A casket instead of a run or cremation is also purchased for the visitations and funeral. All these increase the average cost of cremation.
Disposition of Human Remains
After the body has been cremated, there are different options on what should be done with the cremated remains or ashes.
These options come with different tags. For example, scattering the ashes in a scattering area will be less costly than buying an urn.
Below are pictorial and graphical representations of the cost of cremation in various cities in Texas:
Cremation Authorization Form Texas.
A cremation authorization form is an important form (legal document) required before the deceased body is cremated and must be signed by either the individuals before their death or by the legally recognized next of kin after death.
The form can either be Self-Authorization for Cremation (prearranged and signed by the individuals before their death) or Authorization for Cremation and Disposition (signed by the legal next of kin). Here is an example of a cremation authorization form from Central Texas Crematory, San Marcos, Texas.
According to Texas laws on cremation (Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 716, Subsection 051 and 052, “a deceased human body may not be cremated (except stated otherwise) by any crematory establishment unless it receives a/an:
- authorization form for cremation signed and confirmed by the authorizing agent
- death certificate that indicates the deceased body can be cremated.”
“(a) an authorization form required for cremation shall:
- identify who the dead person is, alongside the date and time of death;
- contain the address and name of a funeral director or any person contracted as a representative to perform the cremation;
- identify who the individual authorized as an authorizing agent is, including the relationship that exist between that individual and the dead person;
- contain a statement from the individual authorized as an authorizing agent such that:
(A) An authorizing agent possesses the power to permit the dead person’s cremation and has no knowledge of any individual or person who have an equal superior right or priority; or
(B) If any person that possesses an equal superior right or priority to permit the cremation, that as an authorizing agent:
(i) Reasonable efforts have been made to contact the person but to no avail and believes that person wouldn’t disallow the cremation; as well as
(ii) Accept to indemnify the crematory or funeral establishment for whatsoever liability that may arise from carrying out the cremation devoid of the person’s permission;
(5) permit the cremation of the deceased by any crematory establishment;
(6) Declare that the deceased doesn’t have an implant, pacemaker or other materials that may be potentially dangerous or damaging to the chamber used for cremation or any person carrying out the cremation;
(7) Specify by name, any person or funeral establishment permitted to accept the cremated body from the crematory company or establishment.
(8) State the way to permanently dispose the cremated body or remains, as far as is known;
(9) Specify all valuable items received by the crematory in addition to the deceased body and state the instructions on how the items should be handled;
(10) Specify if the representative who is an authorizing agent made arrangement for the viewing or showing of the human remains or service in the presence of the human remains before cremating and the time and date of the service or viewing; and
(11) Add the representative’s signature who is referred to as an authorizing agent to confirm the correctness of all the representations that are contained in the authorization from for cremation.
(b) The cremation authorization document or form must contain a written notification to the person who is referred to as an authorizing agent stating that:
(1) As an authorizing agent, the person assumes the responsibility for disposing the cremated body; also
(2) A crematory establishment might:
(A) Deliver to the agent, the cremated body or remains;
(B) transport the cremated body or remains by ship to the agent in cases where the agent approves and provide an address for shipping on the form, authorizes shipment and provides a shipping address on the authorization form; or
(C) Dispose the remains of the cremated body in line with the law as outlined herein not sooner than 121 days after the deceased body is cremated, if the remains of the cremated body haven’t been collected by the agent.
(c) Any representative of the funeral establishment or its funeral director should sign the form authorizing the cremation of the deceased body.
(d) The crematory establishment must make available on request a cremation form authorizing the cremation of the deceased body to the authorizing agent.
Cremation process in Texas
Texas law disallows cremating any deceased human body in less than 48 hours after the death of the deceased.
A human body can’t be cremated immediately after death unless a waiver is obtained from either the County Medical Examiner or a Justice of the Peace.
The Cremation process can proceed after 48 hours and a cremation authorization form signed by the legal NOK (Next of Kin), and a cremation permit granted.
Chapter 716.512 of Texas cremation laws stipulates the cremation process as follows:
- a) Crematory establishments are not required or obliged to receive cremation containers with proof of fluids of human body leakage.
(b) Any person except crematory establishment employees, an authorizing agent, or a representative chosen as stated by Section 716, Subsection 053 and authorized by a crematory establishment might not be allowed into the crematory section during the:
(1) Cremation of the deceased; or
(2) Taking away of the cremated remains from a cremation chamber.
(c) Prior to placing the deceased body in the cremation chamber, the crematory establishment employee(s) should verify, as well as, take off the tag used for identification of the deceased body from the container, then place the tag close to the chamber control board or panel pending when the process of cremation is completed.
(d) Where possible, crematory establishments should take away every remains from a cremation chamber after cremation and grind or crush all bone fragments to particles of less than 0.13 inch. Crematory establishments should take away and dispose any available material alongside the residue.
In furtherance to the above stipulated Texas laws on cremation, a cremation process involves the below steps:
Identification of the deceased human body
A member of the deceased family identifies and confirms the dead body. A metal tag is attached to the body after the identification process is complete. The tag remains attached to the body over the cremation process and afterward.
Authorization of the cremation process
A crematory establishment cannot proceed with cremation in Texas without the permission of an authorizing agent. In Texas laws on cremation, the following people have the right and responsibility to make decisions as an authorizing agent:
- A person identified in a document written by the deceased prior to death.
- A surviving spouse
- A child of the deceased that is an adult
- A Parent
- An adult sibling
- An executor or administrator of the deceased estate
- A next of kin that is an adult
In addition, an authorizing agent may also decide the type of cremation-flame or water cremation-to be done, the type of container to be used for the cremated remains and the person to be responsible for collecting the cremated remains as local cremation prices varies.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cremation
The rate Cremation in Texas has increased significantly over the past decade. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of cremation over the traditional funerals.
- Cremation is less expensive than traditional funerals.
- It is believed to be more eco-friendly.
- Memorial service can be conducted after cremation. This gives the family of the deceased enough time for proper arrangements during the period of grief.
- Cemeteries are increasingly overcrowded with funerals.
- The ashes of the deceased can be kept or displayed.
- Cremation is easier and faster to organize.
- The cremated remains can be shared with other members of the family. With other family members.
- Jewelry and various memorial objects can be made alongside with the ashes for you to always have a visual memory of who you love daily.
- Cremation is permanent. The deceased body can’t be exhumed after cremation unlike burial.
- Cremation may be promoted if it is against your religion
- The ashes may be misplaced or spilled
Is a casket required for cremation in Texas?
In Subchapter D, Cremation Procedures, Section 716.151, Subsection C, subsection 1 & 2 of Texas Health and Safety Code:
“(c) Except as provided by this section, a crematory establishment may not:
(1) Require that the deceased human remains be placed in a casket before cremation or that the remains be cremated in a casket; or
(2) Refuse to accept for cremation deceased human remains that has not been placed in a casket.”
Therefore, there is no law in Texas that requires a casket for cremation. However, Section 716.151, Cremation Containers of Texas Health and Safety Code states as follows:
(a) All Human remains shall be placed inside cremation containers such that they:
(1) Are made from combustible materials that are suitable for the purpose of cremation;
(2) Provide complete covering for the deceased body;
(3) are resistant to spillages or leakages;
(4) are rigid for ease of handling;
(5) Protect the safety and health of all crematory personnel.
(b) Crematory establishments might not take away human remains present in the cremation container, also, human remains must be cremated alongside the cremation containers
What are Texas Cremation Laws?
Texas Law on cremation describes cremation as an “irreversible process that involves the reduction of human remains into bone fragments using direct flame, high temperature, and evaporation.”
Although cremation was an ultimate choice of disposing a deceased body for about 7% human deaths in 1989 in Texas, this rate has risen to over 35% in 2021.
In several cities in Texas, including Houston, Dallas, and Forth Worth, a lot of families are opting for cremation over funeral burials for several reasons including:
- Rising interest in Eco-friendly options
- Relocation trends
- Changing attitudes due to religious tolerance
- Personalization of service to meet the family needs.
Texas cremation laws have made opting for cremation relatively easy. Texas cremation law states:
- When cremation can occur:
By the law of Texas, cremation can’t occur until after 48 hours of the death of a love one; except waived by a medical examiner, an order from court, or the county’s medical examiner.
- Authorization requirements:
Texas law requires the completion of an authorization form by the authorizing agent alongside a statement or notification of death and death certificate presented to the crematory or funeral establishment.
The authorization form must contain the deceased’s identification, with the time and date of death, address and name of the person contracted to offer the cremation service, the relationship and identification of the authorizing agent, including a statement that expresses the legal right of the authorizing agent to affirm to the cremation of the deceased.
The authorization form must contain also a verification signifying the human remains don’t contain any type of implant or a pacemaker that can be harmful to the Safety or health of a crematory personnel and others
- Cremation process requirements:
The law of Texas stipulates that every crematory should be near a funeral establishment or cemetery and that it should be operated or owned by either a cemetery operator or funeral establishment.
Although embalming and caskets are not required under Texas law, every decedent transported or held for over 24 hours should be refrigerated, embalmed, or kept in a leak-proof or an odor-proof container; and human remains must be incombustible containers, completely cover the deceased body and must not allow leakage of fluids from the deceased body.
A crematory may not receive an unidentified human remain except through a County, acting under an order from a court situated in Texas County or the Commissioners’ Court. The crematory personnel are expected to attach any permanent identification tag to the container of the cremains to avoid any confusion.
- Final disposition of the deceased body:
After cremation, the deceased family may decide to keep the cremations at home, bury it in a crypt, grave, or a columbarium. Texas law also allow the cremations to be scattered on private property or unoccupied waterways or public lands with written permission from the property owner.
How long does it take to cremate a body in Texas?
The State of Texas makes it mandatory for any person to wait for 48 hours after the death of a loved one before commencing the cremation process. This is because cremation process is the ultimate to the disposition and destruction of every DNA in human body.
Hence strict laws are enacted o govern how human remains should be cremated. A form approving the cremation of the deceased body referred to as ‘‘Cremation Authorization Form’’ shall be signed and authorized by an authorizing agent as listed in Texas Health and Safety Code (See section 8 below in this Guide) before a permit for cremation can be granted by the local county coroner.
After the 48-hour period of waiting, the time it takes to cremate the body will depend on how long it takes the authorizing agent to sign the ‘‘Cremation Authorization Form’’ and the coroner to grant the permit for cremation to take place.
Who has legal rights to cremation in Texas?
The list of person(s) with legal rights (also known as an authorizing agent) to cremation in Texas can be seen in Section 711, Subsection 2, Disposition of The Remains; Duty/Responsibility to Inter of the Texas Health and Safety Code as follows:
“(a) Except as stated in Subsection (l), otherwise a dead person has provided in writing prior to his death, instructions on how his cremated remains should be disposed as outlined by Subsection (g), these persons, listed below in order of precedence, have the legal right to determine the disposition, in addition to cremation, of a dead person’s remains, shall bury or inter the cremated remains, and pursuant to Subsection (a-1), these persons or individuals are responsible for the interment costs:
(1) The individual or person named in writing and confirmed by signature by the deceased;
(2) The deceased surviving spouse or partner;
(3) Any surviving adult offspring or children of the deceased;
(4) Any of the surviving parents of the deceased;
(5) Any surviving or living adult siblings;
(6) At least one of either of the suitably qualified administrators or executors of the deceased estate; or
(7) Either one of the adult persons in the highest class of kinship and should be in sequence as specified by the law to receive the deceased estate.
“(a-1) Where the person or individual who has the legal right to determine how the cremated remains of the deceased should be disposed fails to make proper arrangements or choose another individual or person to make proper arrangements to dispose the cremated remains six (6) days after the person was notified of the deceased death or ten (10) days after the deceased was confirmed dead, the person or individual is assumed as unwilling or incapable of controlling the disposition of the cremated body, in addition:
(1) The individual or person’s legal right to determine how the cremated remains should be disposed is transferred to these persons’ in order of precedence stated below:
(A) Any of the persons in Subsection (a) same as the individual or person whose legal right was discontinued; or
(B) an individual or person in another priority class, with reference to Subsection (a)”.
“(g) An individual or person might provide written instructions on how the disposition should be done, in addition to the cremation, in a paid funeral contract, will, or written document signed and confirmed by that person.
How Long Does Cremation Take In Texas?
Cremation in Texas can take between three to fifteen days from start to finish, inclusive of the statutory waiting period of forty-eight hours, which can be waived by a Justice of Peace or Medical examiner.
However, the cremation process is dependent on Texas law on cremation.
Why Cremation Takes So Long in Texas
Cremation takes so long because the cremation of a deceased body is irreversible.
Human remains buried could be exhumed, especially in cases of investigation or where there is need for a loved one’s grave to be relocated. However, cremation is permanent and irreparable.
Due to this reason, several states as well as Texas, make legal provisions, laws, and regulations that must be adhered to before cremation is done.
Cremation process is stipulated in Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 716, Crematories, Subchapter A, General Provisions.
By Texas law on cremation, cremation can begin after 48 hours, nevertheless the process of cremation requires total adherence to Texas laws on cremation and other reasons stated below, the process of cremation takes so long.
- Doctors not promptly certifying the deceased death: Doctors in Texas are required to medically certify the death of the deceased in 5 days immediately they receive it. The process of cremation cannot proceed without a doctor’s medical certification. This frequently causes delays.
- Doctors not taking part in Texas’ online death certification system to medically certify the death of a deceased: Several doctors are yet to start to electronically certify deaths even though they are required by the state of Texas to do so.
In such cases documents are printed and signed by the medical doctor and sent to the crematory establishment or funeral home. This is forwarded by hand to the County/State.
Where there is error in the completed documents, the documents are returned by the County/State to the doctor, and the process is repeated.
- The NOK (Next of Kin) delays in signing the authorization form and other required documents
How much does it cost to bury cremated ashes in Texas?
The costs of burying cremated ashes in Texas in burial plots from brokers and private sales are estimated to be $3,625.
This is not inclusive of the 15-20% fee charged by most brokers nor the fees charged by cemeteries for writing, processing, or transferring deeds and contracts.
12. Frequently Asked Questions:
Is casket required for cremation in Texas?
No Texas law requires the use of casket for the process of cremation. However, a container that comprises of a combustible material can be used.
Where in Texas can ashes be stored or scattered after cremation?
Ashes can be kept in a grave, crypt, or at home in a container. You can also scatter the ashes over unoccupied public land, private property with the owner’s consent, or sea according to Texas law
What does Texas law says about embalming?
Except the disposition of the deceased body occurs within 24 hours after death, the body should be embalmed.
What is Texas law on cremation?
Texas law prohibits the cremation of a deceased body within a 48-hour period after the person body is certified dead
Can a deceased body be cremated within 49 hours after death?
Yes, provided there is a waiver issued by a county court, Justice of Peace, or a Medical examiner
Which cremation service is affordable?
Direct cremation service without a memorial is less expensive. In Texas, it may cost less than a $1,000 on average.
What is Texas law on water cremation?
Presently, Texas law does not support water cremation. Water cremation turns the human body into bones and liquid through alkaline hydrolysis.
- Is cremation service an alternative or substitute for funeral service?
Cremation is more of an alternative and not a substitute for funeral service
Is the rate of cremation increasing?
Yes, the eye of cremation is increasing in the United States and its States compared to traditional burial.
- What is the cost of cremation in Texas?
In Texas, the costs of cremation can vary from $945 to $3,000 on average. You can
Although death is not a frequently discussed topic in the society today, a lot of people are suddenly encounter this issue and discussion of death with no plan for it. This can be very challenging when considering what you should do at first.
In case you are currently bereaved and living in Texas and you are considering cremating your loved one, his Ultimate Guide on Cremation in Texas will be of significant importance to you, as the rate of in cremation in Texas and other States in United States, is in the increase.
Familiarize yourself with Texas laws on cremation, the costs of cremation in Texas, and the cremation process to give the remains of your loved one a befitting final disposition using this Guide.