How Long Can You Wait to Cremate?

Funerals are difficult to plan, and most people think that they need to happen within days after the person has passed. Don’t you wish you could just take some time to figure things out before rushing into it all? Especially when the death of the person was unexpected, it can be overwhelming to rush into funeral planning. 

The average time to have a funeral after death is between three and seven days. For some, this is a good time frame to settle funeral and cremation arrangements. For others, they might need longer to plan and figure out financials.

If you’re considering delaying the funeral for a bit, you may be wondering how long the body can be kept before you’re able to decide if you want a traditional burial or cremation. 

If you’re leaning more towards a cremation, you need to check with your state laws to determine how soon you can cremate someone. In Texas, there is a law that states one must wait 48 hours after death to cremate unless waived by a legal authority such as the Justice of the Peace, or a medical examiner. 

Why Is There A Waiting Period?

While some people don’t mind the delays, others do have arrangements set up and the waiting period can be frustrating. There are a number of reasons why Texas requires a 48 hour waiting period for cremations. These delays include:

  • Delays from doctors – Doctors can wait up to five days before signing the death certificate. As you can imagine, this can cause quite a delay.
  • Delays from next of kin – The next of kin is required to sign documentation that acknowledges their loved one is being cremated. The longer this takes, the longer the delay.
  • Not using Texas’ online system – Texas has a convenient system that allows doctors to certify deaths electronically, but some doctors still certify deaths manually, which can take a bit longer.

What Should You Do If You Need More Time?

For those who want to take their time planning the funeral, these delays can actually benefit them while they figure arrangements out. If they only end up having to wait a minimum of 48 hours, this is where things get tricky if everything isn’t planned out yet. 

If you’re willing to pay for it, the funeral home is able to hold a body from anywhere from a week to up to a month-long for an additional cost. This can benefit those that are waiting for family to make travel arrangements or if there’s bad weather at the time and you need to push it out a bit longer. 

Do What You Need To Do

No matter the reason why you want to wait, the most important thing is that you are doing what’s best for you and your family to honor your loved one as you all see fit. 

Planning a funeral isn’t easy, and rushing into it doesn’t make it any easier for those who are the ones planning it. Take your time to make sure you are giving your loved one a proper goodbye. 


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