1. Is there an organization where I can file a complaint against a funeral home or cemetery? You can file a complaint with the Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC). You can find the complaint forms online at their site here. While the TFSC may claim that it does not have jurisdiction of such a problem, they may take the position that they can help you. Whatever they do, such complaints will eventually get to the Texas Legislature and can be used to show why families need better cemetery regulation in Texas. The link to the TFSC complaint procedure and form:www.tfsc.state.tx.us/complaints
2.My parent has a preneed contract in another state. She/he now lives in Texas. What do we do now? The ability to use the contract depends largely on four things: (1) What does the contract say about its transferability or revocability? (2) What are the laws of the state in which it was written concerning transferability or revocability? (3) Was it insurance-funded or trust-funded? (4) Was it purchased by a funeral conglomerate that owns funeral homes in many states? If the contract terms allow the contract to be transferred, then transferring it to a nearby funeral home may be the best option. If the contract allows it to be revoked, this should be considered taking into account how much of the money paid will be returned. Sometimes, enough money can be recovered and put aside in a special account to pay for funeral services offered in the local area through a memorial society or a funeral consumers alliance that has negotiated discount prices for its members. The law of the state where the contract was entered may allow either transferability or revocation of the contract. If so, the issues in the above paragraph should be considered. If the contract was insurance-funded, the policy can be taken to a funeral home near the person’s new residence and they can tell you if they will be able to perform the services using the insurance policy for payment. If the contract was trust-funded, the laws of the state where it was entered into will control the transferability of the contract. If the contract was arranged through Service Corporation International (SCI) or another funeral conglomerate with funeral homes in many states, a local funeral home owned by that corporation will likely be able to perform the services under the terms of the original contract. Finally, contact the local memorial society and learn whether it has funeral options that will save money no matter what can be done with the preneed contract.
3. Friends in another state want to know if there is a local funeral consumers alliance where they live. How do they find out? To see a list of all the local funeral consumer alliances in the country, go to www.funerals.org and click on the "local fca” tab.
4. I completed my advance planning forms in another state; are they good in Texas? General advance planning forms transfer from state to state. However, to be certain, we suggest updating your forms in the state where you are currently living.
5. Does a body need to be embalmed? My father will be buried in another Texas city–does he have to be embalmed for transport? A body must be kept cool (between 34 and 40 degrees) beginning 24 hours after death, or it must be encased in a leak-proof and odor-proof container, or it must be embalmed. Embalming is one of the three options, but there is no law which requires you to choose embalming. For transport to another city, a refrigerated vehicle or dry ice can also be used to satisfy the temperature requirement or encasement of the body can be chosen.
6. Do any medical research organizations or universities in Texas accept whole body donations? Yes. Please see this chart and be sure to read the section that follows on informed consent.
7. I’m an honorably discharged veteran. Where can I obtain information about after-death benefits for myself, my spouse, and my dependent children?
You will find information about National Veterans Cemeteries at www.cem.va.gov.
If you decide to be interred in a private cemetery, you will still be eligible for a government marker or headstone, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. For information about the VA's Burial and Interment Allowance, go here.
8. Where do I store my advance planning documents? We recommend storing your advance planning documents in your refrigerator or freezer; not in a safety deposit box. In addition, make sure you tell someone where to locate your documents in case you are unable to speak for yourself. Our national Funeral Consumers Alliance offers a final arrangements planner, Before I Go, You Should Know, in both English and Spanish. The Before I Go Planner, which you can store with your directives, includes 30 pages of space to:
Record your detailed funeral wishes
Leave instructions for your pet care
Tell survivors where to find your assets and how to wind down your online life
You have the option to have the planner mailed to you, or you can download a digital copy for less than $10.
9. What is a green burial? In general, when speaking about green burial, we are referring to a field or woodland burial, complemented by the use of an outer burial container made from biodegradable materials, such as cardboard, wood, or a cloth shroud (burial containers made of grass or other biodegradable containers are now available). As usually conceived, the environment of green burial grounds is kept as wild and as natural as possible. Memorials and headstones are generally not permitted, though small ground-level markers may be. Often memorial trees can be planted to mark the grave. No embalming is usually allowed. The dignity of any service is not compromised by these arrangements and indeed the simplicity of the service can add to its meaning for many. Many rural and small-town cemeteries will allow ecologically-friendly burials, but they do not strive to maintain the surroundings in their natural state.
10. Can I bury a body on private property? For information on this topic go here.
11. Do funeral "packages" offered by some funeral homes really save money? By law funeral providers are required to provide General Price Lists (GPLs) that itemize all the goods and services they offer. Some funeral homes bundle items into 'packages' that purport to save families money. If, however, the package includes items you do not want, you will still have to pay for them as part of the package. For this reason, it's wise to compare the cost of indiviudual items you do want with the price of a package before making a buying decision. Remember, too, that you have the option to purchase a casket or an urn from another source.
12. Do I need to complete a Living Will? What was formerly called a Living Will in Texas is now called the Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates.This important document is designed to help the individual communicate his or her wishes about medical treatment at some future time when, due to incapacity, the individual is unable to personally make his/her wishes known. These wishes are usually based on personal values. While important, the Directive does not take precedence over the Texas form Medical Power of Attorney (Medical POA), a highly important document that provides for naming an agent to whom authority is assigned for making a broad range of health care decisions for the individual. No advance directive is more important than the Medical POA.
13. Should I prepay for my funeral? Safer Ways to Plan Ahead. Click here for an article that explains problems that may arise with prepaid funeral contracts . . . and gives you a safer way to set funds aside to pay for your final arrangements.
14. What are the goals of hospice care? How is hospice care funded? Click here for information about hospice programs, FAQs, and selection tips.
funeral consumers alliance of central texas (FCACTX)
Funeral Consumers Alliance of Central Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit consumer group run entirely by volunteers. We provide information to help you make informed end-of-life decisions that fit your values and your budget. Your tax deductible donations support our work.
Phone: 512-480-0555 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office:: 3710 Cedar Street, Room 112, Austin, TX (hours by appt.) Mail: 3710 Cedar Street, Box 13, Austin, TX 78705-1449