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Question
Lisa,

I noticed that you made mention of the fact that in the state of Texas there is no law requiring that a funeral home be used no matter the age?  I was curious due to the fact that after 20 weeks or 350 grams a death certificate has to be completed.  It would not be required for someone under 20 weeks or under 350 grams.  Can you tell me where I can find the statute or law that states that any gestation can be disposed of? This is an ongoing concern in the medical community that we handle the fetus/infant properly.  Is there anything that states if it is a 20 week, live birth that lives 2 hours and then passes as to whether or not the infant can be disposed of? Is there a difference between a stillbirth and a live birth that results in death and whether or not they must be buried or can be disposed of? I am needing this information for updating policies and am unable to find it.

thank you,  

Kelly

Answer
Kelly,

In all but 8 states a family may handle a death without a funeral director. Yes, the paperwork must be completed--death certificate filed and burial transit permit obtained if 20 weeks or more. There's a pediatric oncology nurse in California who says there's a dramatic difference in the healing when parents who have lost a child have a hands-on funeral experience.

You can download the TX chapter from the Bookstore at www.funerals.org for only $5. It walks one thro' the whole process.

You might also be interested in an ideal hospital post mortem policy as posted in the Funeral Ethics newsletter--http://www.funeralethics.org/fall07.pdf

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Lisa Carlson

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
Funeral Ethics Organization (www.funeralethics.org) Funeral Consumers Alliance (www.funerals.org)

Publications
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

Education/Credentials
Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

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

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