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Texas Guide to Disposition of Remains

Health & Benefits

Decide what happens to your body when you die, and choose the person in charge of arrangements.
Overview

Guide Overview

Warning. The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.

With an Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains, you give a friend or family member the authority to make decisions about what happens to your body when you die. This guide will help you complete an Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains.

Common questions about Planning for Loss of Health

The disposition of your remains is what you want done with your body following death. The most common dispositions are burial and cremation. 

If you die without having a written document that appoints someone to make decisions about your remains, then your “next of kin” will have the right to control what happens to your body. In Texas “next of kin” means your relative(s) in the following order:

  • surviving spouse
  • surviving adult children
  • parents
  • surviving adult siblings

In some cases a person’s next of kin may be a group of people, such as a group of adult children or a group of siblings. 

The Disposition of Remains document lets you select the person you feel will best carry out your wishes regarding what happens to your body at the time of your death. The person you assign can be a family member, significant other, or a close friend. 

The document gives you the power to choose a person you trust to follow your wishes. It allows you to remove decision making from a group of people who may have differences of opinion regarding what should happen to your remains. 

Choose carefully and communicate clearly.

Your primary agent is your first choice for making decisions. The document allows you to name alternates in the event the primary agent is unable or unwilling to act. It is important to speak with your agents before completing the document to make sure they are comfortable following your wishes. 

Of course, whomever you choose must be a competent adult—that is, someone at least 18 years old. 

Yes, your wishes may change over time and that’s OK, because the disposition of final remains is revocable. That means you can change your designee if one becomes unavailable or unwilling to follow your wishes.

The Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains is not valid until the agents you have named sign and date the last page of the document. 

The Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains becomes effective upon your death. 

A notary does not have to be present when your agent or agents sign the Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains. 

It is not necessary for the agents to sign the Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains at the same time. 

Instructions & Forms

Warning. The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation

Checklist Steps

Fill in the blank for the county where the document will be signed. If you will be signing the document in San Antonio, Texas, then the county would be Bexar County, for example.

Fill in the next blank with your full legal name. It is important to use the full legal names of everyone listed in the document. This is the name listed on your Texas ID or birth certificate. 

Fill in your next blank with your current address. 

Fill in the blank for your primary agent (the main person who you want to handle what happens to your remains). List their full legal name, address, and phone number.

If you do not wish to write any special instructions, write none in this section.

You should limit your directions to one of the following: 

  • “I limit the disposition of my remains to cremation.”
  • “I limit the disposition of my remains to burial.”

Any other special directions may need the advice of an attorney.

Keep in mind that if you would like your body to be donated to a university or research center you must contact the university or research center prior to your death. Most places will not accept your body without prearrangements.

You should notify your agent or agents ahead of time of any prearrangements you have made regarding your funeral or burial.

You may also designate a first and second successor if you wish. The first and second successor are people who you want to serve as your alternative agent in case your primary agent is unavailable or unwilling to act on your behalf. If you do not want a first or second successor, you may leave this section blank or put "none" in the blank for the successor’s name.

Your agent or agents are required to sign page four of the document. Their signatures do not need to be notarized, so they do not need to be present when you meet with the notary public. 

They can sign at any time after you have signed and notarized the form. By signing the document your agents are assuming responsibility for arranging  the payment for your funeral, burial, or cremation. 

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