The information in this post is general information only and is not legal advice for your particular legal problem. Please seek legal counsel from a trusted legal professional in your area.
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful, devastating experiences anyone can go through. It gets even more complicated when you have to incur the burden of burial arrangements and all the costs that come attached. It can seem like a nightmare when you’re dealing with a funeral home that refuses to release the body of your loved one until full payment is made. So can a funeral home hold a body for non-payment? Let’s discuss this further.
Everyone needs a hand, especially in such trying times, which is why Best Funeral Homes Houston has made it a priority to help families give their lost loved ones a proper, dignified send-off.
We don’t just offer planning services, and we make it our business to connect our customers with quality on all levels, providing a path to service providers who provide top-class services at pocket-friendly rates.
That said, it is important for Texans to know their rights and to have essential information on principles of funeral laws and practices. This article seeks to educate and enlighten our customers on what is proper when planning a funeral, the documentation you require, and the rules you need to follow. We also want to ensure you know your rights to a point where ill-practices are avoidable.
Let’s look at some crucial points you need to know when planning a funeral in Houston.
Can a funeral home hold a body for non-payment?
Funeral processions can be costly, and although Texas law requires funeral homes to offer and price each service separately, there is a common practice of some to provide and charge for unnecessary services. In several of these cases, they slap grieving families with very high fees, rendering them unable to pay.
Now the most frequently asked question is whether a funeral home can hold the body of a loved one if one is incapable of paying. Most funeral homes do not consider holding bodies as standard practice, but we should point out that a funeral home is a business, and it has to look after its own interests.
The short answer is, yes, funeral homes can hold on to the deceased body as an insurance policy, just until the family can clear their debt. Note that nothing in Texas law prevents a funeral director from holding onto a body if the home has rendered services are you are incapable of paying for these services, then he is well within his right to do so.
First and keep in mind that funeral homes are independent businesses, not charities. So as much as they are there to help you give your loved one a respectful and deserving send-off, they still have a quota to meet and a business to run. Test the services and ensure you stay within your budget.
Funeral homes do not make it a habit of holding bodies, but, by law, you are under obligation to compensate providers for any service rendered fully.
Note also, that by Texan law, funeral homes shouldn’t offer services as a package. Each service should be provided and billed individually. This prevents you from paying for services you don’t need or being tricked into purchasing services that you can not afford. This legislation will work great for you, as it will enable you to work within your means, so you don’t end up with more problems after laying your loved one to rest.
Don’t plan funeral processions in a hurry. It doesn’t matter if it’s a DIY process or if you intend to seek the services of a funeral director. Mistakes are common when you don’t plan things efficiently. Find a competent, qualified industry expert such as Best Funeral homes Houston to help you properly plan, and see the process through.
There are religious considerations, yes, and some religions, like Islam, require quick proceedings. This advice still applies, funeral directors are planners, and they will be a useful resource if you have time constraints.
Have a clear view of your finances before you seek any services. If you have any budgetary constraints, ensure you look for pocket-friendly service providers who will work within your budget and ensure you get the best value for your money. It is also essential, if the funeral is a family affair, to ensure you have a roster of who will pay for what. The basis of this ought to be on what individual people are willing and able to contribute.
The organization is key here. Most people end up being unable to pay for services rendered because they cannot organize accurately. Prioritize legal documentation you require, plan for transportation, and, if possible, pay for everything in advance to avoid any hitches. Being adequately organized prevents you and your family from getting blindsided by extra costs that may affect the process.
Last, also note that they require funeral homes, by law, to give you a breakdown of their fees. It also requires them to tell you how much you will have to pay for various services beforehand. This will help you plan better and, hopefully, prevent any confrontation.
What you Need To Know
Embalming in Texas only becomes necessary if no one, a family member or otherwise, comes to claim the body past the 24-hour threshold.
What is embalming?
A process that involves draining blood from the body and replacing it with chemicals that preserve the body and delay the decomposition process.
There are exceptions, however. If you are planning to transport the body past state lines, then some funeral directors will insist on it. The law only stipulates the need for embalming if the body is in transit, or if it hasn’t been claimed after 24 hours.
Having a funeral director is not mandatory in Texas. You can carry out all the arrangements on your own. You do however require filing for some relevant documentation, like a
Report of Death from the proper authority. If you are to move the body, it also requires you to file for the death certificate, among other related legal documents.
Note that funeral services may not be an obligation, but they are a necessity. The final planning process can be complicated, especially if you haven’t lost a loved one before, and having an industry specialist who knows what to do can save you a lot of money and time. Budgetary constraints shouldn’t concern you, as there are practical funeral homes that are pocket-friendly.
Family Cemeteries have a clause in Texas legislation but under certain conditions. Although most burials in Houston are in established public cemeteries, the law provides for burial on private property. This is on condition that you consult with the town clerk to ensure you’re not breaking any zoning laws.
They also require you to draw a map of the specific boundaries of your family cemetery and file it as a public record to ensure future owners know exactly where it is.
If you are a spouse, an immediate family member, or if you have any legal document that ties you to the deceased, then you are entitled to a copy of a death certificate. Texas law also shows that for this to be a legitimate request, the death must have happened within 25 years.
If the deceased also had a life insurance policy naming you as a beneficiary, either sole or otherwise, then you are also entitled to a copy.
Know Your Rights
Many people get duped into submission mainly because they don’t have a clue as to the rights they have when planning a funeral for a loved one. There are specific fundamental rights provided by law that you should know when planning a funeral, and they allow you to file a complaint against anyone who infringes on those rights.
Here are some that you need to know of;
First, a funeral home is not allowed to hold the body for payment if you have settled all your debts. In case they try to bring in costs that you were not aware of in the previous agreement, you are allowed to file a complaint. It is important you understand all of the funeral costs that could add up.
Texas law allows family and friends to plan and execute funeral arrangements on their own. They are even allowed to shift responsibility to a third party in case a relative doesn’t conform to the wishes of the family.
A general rule by the Federal Trade Commission is that they allow you to purchase what you can afford. No more. Any service you find as unnecessary in the funeral service roster, they allow you to forego.
Last, no law requires you to have a casket for either burial or cremation, but rules differ depending on the crematory or funeral home. Some may have specific rules on what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Best Funeral Homes Houston seeks to provide you with the knowledge you need to ensure your loved ones are l to rest with the utmost dignity. If you are looking for a resource that cares and will walk with you all the way, then you’re in the right place.