Who Makes Funeral Arrangements When Someone Dies Without a Will in Texas?

A man died without a Will. He died unmarried, with two children, one 19 and the other 17. However, he and his children had been estranged for least ten years.

His siblings and parents contacted me to ask who had the legal right to make funeral arrangements for him. Is there a law that outlines who has the right to make funeral arrangements if he dies without a Will?

Section 711.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code states that the following people, in the priority listed, have a right to make funeral arrangements:

  • A person designated in a written document signed by the decedent;
  • a decedent’s surviving spouse;
  • any one of a decedent’s surviving adult children
  • any one of the decedent’s surviving adult siblings
  • any one or more duly qualified executors or administrators or the decedent’s estate; or
  • any adult person in the next degree of kinship in the order named by law to inherit the estate of the decedent.

The person with the right to make funeral arrangements must make final arrangements or appoint someone to make final arrangements:

  • within 6th day after the person received notice of the decedent’s death; or
  • the 10th day after the date the decedent died.

Otherwise, there is a presumption that he or she is unable or unwilling to make funeral arrangements, and those rights will be terminated. After the the right to control the disposition passes to the next person in the line of priority.

If the person who makes funeral arrangements is not an appointed executor or administrator, he or she is liable for the reasonable funeral costs and can be reimbursed for that cost from the decedent’s estate.

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