Below you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the funeral profession and association services. If you do not find your answer within this area, please contact us

1. What purpose does a funeral serve?
2. What do funeral directors do?
3. Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
4. Why have a public viewing?
5. What is the purpose of embalming?
6. Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
7. Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
8. Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
9. Is cremation as a means of disposition increasing?
10. How can cremated remains be disposed of or kept?
11. Why are funerals so expensive?
12. What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
13. Who pays for funerals for the indigent?

Question #1What purpose does a funeral serve?
Answer:It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.

Question #2What do funeral directors do?
Answer:Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body.

Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

Question #3Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
Answer:Texas state law does not prevent a family from burying a member of the family without using a licensed funeral director.  However, most places where people die, such as a hospital, hospice, nursing home or other legitimate facility will not release a body to anyone other than a licensed funeral director or someone representing a licensed establishment.  

Also, most people find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death.

Question #4Why have a public viewing?
Answer:Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.

Question #5What is the purpose of embalming?
Answer:Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness.

Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

Question #6Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
Answer:No, embalming is not required by state law, unless the body is held in any place or in transit for more than 24 hours and not refrigerated at a temperature within the range of 34o - 40o Fahrenheit.

Most funeral establishments will require that the body of a deceased person be embalmed if the family chooses a service or ceremony that includes visitation or an open casket.

Most states require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease. Some states require embalming when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier.  

Question #7Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
Answer:While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.

Question #8Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
Answer:No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service. Texas law prohibits cremating any dead human body within 48 hours after death.  The County Medical Examiner or Justice of the Peace may waive this time requirement.

Question #9Is cremation as a means of disposition increasing?
Answer:Yes. The latest statistics available from the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) show that cremations nationally increased from 19.2% of all deaths in 1995 to 34.34% in 2007. Cremation trends indicate that by 2015 the rate may be 44.4%.  Cremation rates in Texas and other southern states tend to be lower than the national average.

Question #10How can cremated remains be disposed of or kept?
Answer:Cremated remains pose no health hazard and may be scatted in any place that such activity is not otherwise forbidden by local ordinances or Texas law.  Most cemeteries provide columbariums with niches or the container can be interred in a grave site.  Urns can be purchased to keep the remains of a loved one at home.

New ways of disposing of or keeping cremated remains are being developed all the time.  Check with your funeral director or the internet to discover the various possibilities.

Question #11Why are funerals so expensive?
Answer:When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. 
A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral.

Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details.

Question #12What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Answer:Funeral service is regulated by the FTC and, in Texas, by the Texas Funeral Service Commision.  In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Commission at 888-667-4881 or visit their website

Question #13Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Answer:Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, or city or a combination.

Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.  It is best to contact the funeral home of your choice and ask them to assist you in obtaining benefits from various agencies.