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When someone dies in Texas

In the state of Texas, determination of death, no matter the circumstances, must be made by a coroner, Justice of the Peace or attending physician. In the case of an unattended death, local law enforcement must be contacted immediately after the body is discovered.

Texas allows several options for disposing of a body. Families can bury their own dead without using a licensed funeral director, but a statement of death and death certificate are legally required.

Local ordinances and deed restrictions can prohibit private burial within city limits. Check the Texas Health Department and local zoning authorities for laws and ordinances in each specific area.

Cremation cannot occur within 48 hours of death unless a county medical examiner or justice of the peace waives this requirement. The states allows for four different ways to dispose of cremated remains:

1. Scattering them privately

2. Burial in a cemetery

3. Placed in a columbarium

4. Kept at home by family

Bodies may also be donated to medical facilities by contacting the Anatomical Board at 301 University Blvd. in Galveston. Call 409-772-1293 for more information.

Embalming is another option, but Texas law does not require it. Bodies held over 24 hours must either be embalmed, refrigerated or encased in a leak and odor proof container. Any body being transported over state lines must be embalmed.

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