Based on my dad's request, he doesn't want a funeral, or any kind of body preparation (wants to be buried as is) and does not want to be buried until 3 days after his death. He would like his 4 sons to watch over him (I am one) during this 3 day period, if they are willing, and then lay him to rest. I guess this would be similar to a wake. My question is can this be done without any issues with the law and if so, could you elaborate a little on the process or steps? I have already purchased several burial plots in a local cemetery for my family and will be personally purchasing a casket for him soon. I don't know much about the process but have been researching the funeral homes and costs and it appears outrageous on the costs and such. My dad won't allow the elaborate costs and my family is poor and pretty much can't afford it anyway. My dad doesn't have a lot of time left (due to cancer) so any help is surely appreciated. I live in Texas and he is still at home and plans on staying there until he passes. I would also specifically like to know if his body has to be transferred from his home by funeral home, paramedics or other, or can it be done by family.

Thank you.

You may absolutely handle the death without hiring a funeral director. Download the TX chapter from the Bookstore at for only $5. It will walk you thro' the steps for filing the death certificate and getting the burial transit permit. Be SURE to do a practice run first, as the local officials may not know this is legal. There's a lawyer in Austin who knows funeral law if you run into problems--Lamar Hankins.

You may need frozen gel packs or dry ice as refrigeration or embalming is required after 24 hrs.
Frankly, there are no embalming police, so if you have air conditioning, keeping the body below 70 degrees is probably manageable. Temperature has more to do with decomposition than the time elapsed after death. FYI, smell is a nose problem, not a health problem. If the mouth starts to purge bubbly acid that smells foul, swab the mouth out with a Q-tip and vinegar.

Check with the cemetery to see if it requires a vault or liner. If so, see if they sell them, as the vault dealers won't usually sell to the public. At that point you might have to use a funeral director to order one.


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Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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