In Texas, only those individuals who execute a will prior to passing away may elect to have their ashes scattered following cremation. Section § 711.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code states that the remains of a person who passed away without a will must be interred. The statute further defines interment as “entombment, burial, or placement in a niche” without any further options.
Many find cremation to be an economical and environmentally-friendly method to dispose of their remains. And for those choosing cremation, many wish to have their ashes scattered at a meaningful location. However, a plain reading of the statute prohibits such scattering without a will in place.
Further, even with a will in place, the Health and Safety Code provides for the specific locations where ashes may be scattered: “uninhabited public land, over a public waterway or sea, or on the private property of a consenting owner.” This means that more “creative” methods of disposition – such as having the remains pressed into diamonds or made into any other product – are prohibited in Texas.
Interestingly, the statute provides that even if the will is found to be invalid, the person’s directions as to burial or cremation are still be honored. Litigation has not yet reached the courts on this issue, which means the safest bet – for anyone who prefers to have his or her ashes scattered – is to execute a will.
Planning ahead allows a person to decide much more than simply how his or her remains will be disposed. Proper planning includes naming others to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself, disposing of your property, ensuring that children are taken care of and that your end-of-life wishes are respected. Contact Balmos Law to start your plan today.