Where to Start

A family may take care of all aspects of disposition from death to interment, inurnment, entombment or transporting out of state without the assistance of a funeral director of a funeral establishment.

What to do when a death occurs

  • Contact local law enforcement official if the death was unattended.
  • A coroner, Justice of the Peace, or attending physician must make a determination of death.
  • Locate the decedent’s letter of direction, prepaid funeral contract, insurance policy and or will.
  • If no direction for disposition exists, the next of kin must be established. If you are unsure of next of kin, we can help you determine who may legally control the disposition.
  • A Report of Death and a Death Certificate are legally required upon death. Heart of Texas Cremations assists with obtaining death certificates as part of our services.


Written directions state by who and how a person wishes to be disposed after death. The Texas Funeral Service Commission website has a guide and form for direction, or you may call us for assistance with directives.


Human remains can be buried, entombed, cremated, or donated for scientific study.


The law requires a cremation container that is rigid for easy handling and made of combustible materials to be used for all cremations. Embalming and a casket are not required for cremation.

Cremated remains may be disposed of or kept as follows:

  • Scattered on private property of consenting land owner.
  • Interred in a cemetery, niche, or columbarium.
  • Kept by the family or others in home.
  • Scattered upon public lands or waterways.


If the decedent left no written direction for disposition, the following person, in the order listed, has the right to control disposition and is liable for the cost of interment:

  • The person designated by the decedent.
  • The decedent’s surviving spouse. Texas recognizes common-law spouses.
  • Any one of the decedent’s surviving adult children.
  • Either one of the decedent’s surviving parents.
  • Any one of the decedent’s surviving adult siblings.
  • Any adult person in the next degree of kinship in the order named by law to inherit the estate of the decedent.

If the person with the right to control the disposition fails to make final arrangements within six days after receiving notice of the death, whichever is earliest, the person is presumed to be unable/unwilling to control disposition and the person’s right to control disposition is terminated and the right is passed to the next person on the priority list.


By law, a report of death must be made within 24 hours of death and a death certificate must be filed with the state within 10 days of death and contain the following:

  1. Full Name (Maiden if Applicable)
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Place of Birth
  4. Social Security Number
  5. Residence Address
  6. Spouse’s Name (Maiden if Applicable)
  7. Father’s Name and Mother’s Birth Name
  8. Place of Burial of Disposition
  9. Highest Level of Education