Who Has the Right to Approve Cremation in Texas?
Under Texas law, cremation is technically defined as the irreversible process of reducing human remains to bone fragments through extreme heat and evaporation, which may include the processing or the pulverization of bone fragments. Sounds pleasant, doesn't it?
Despite its legal description in Texas, cremation is growing in popularity across the United States. In the last fifty years, reports indicate the number of Americans choosing cremation has grown tenfold – from about 4 percent in 1958 to 40 percent today.
Nonetheless, many people hold strong opinions about cremation. Some of us have no problem with the idea of our remains being cremated or definitely prefer it for its lower impact on our environment. Others, however, are strongly against it, whether for themselves or a loved one.
The question, then, is who gets to decide if a person will be cremated after death? There are essentially three methods to identify the decision-maker.
Adults of sound mind can make the decision prior to death
Texas law allows individuals to leave directions for the disposition of remains, including cremation, in a valid will, prepaid funeral contract or a written instrument we have signed and acknowledged according to law. Considering what you would want for funeral arrangements and the disposition of your remains are part of a comprehensive estate plan.
You can appoint an agent to make final arrangements for you
There are those who are not ready to think about their final arrangements and yet others who really don't care and are happy to leave the decisions to someone else. Either way, you can go ahead and designate a person to have authority to make your final arrangements in your will or in a separate document known as an appointment of agent to control disposition of remains.
What if you don't leave directions or designate an agent before death?
If you don't leave directions in a valid document or designate an agent to make your final arrangements, the right and responsibility to do so on your behalf will go to the following people after your death, in this order:
- Your surviving spouse, if any
- Any one of your adult children
- Either of your parents
- Any one of your adult siblings, or
- Any adult next of kin, in order according Texas laws of estate distribution when there is no will
Whether you are in favor of or against of cremation, make sure your family knows your preferences as part of your comprehensive estate plan. An experienced estate planning attorney can explain your options, discuss your situation and guide you to make the right decision for you.
Update your will or designate an agent today
Our experienced Bryan-College Station, Texas estate planning attorneys provide a broad range of estate planning and probate litigation services to make sure your wishes and those of your loved ones are carried out. Call Peterson Law Group at 979-703-7014 to make an appointment, or fill out our online contact form to request a consultation.