Previous Ask the State Registrar Questions

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Questions regarding vital statistics matters previously asked of the state registrar.

Q: A funeral home receives a request from a family to cremate a twin fetal death.  The fetal death only went through 14 weeks of gestation and never reached 350 grams.  Should the funeral home proceed with a fetal death certificate?

Q: What procedure should a funeral director follow if two people claiming to be the spouse of the deceased ask to be listed as the spouse on the death certificate?


Q: A funeral home receives a request from a family to cremate a twin fetal death.  The fetal death only went through 14 weeks of gestation and never reached 350 grams.  Should the funeral home proceed with a fetal death certificate?

A: According to Section 181.7(a) of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), death certificates must be processed for any fetus weighing 350 grams or more or, if the weight is unknown, a fetus aged 20 or more weeks.  In most cases, therefore, a death certificate does not need to be filed.  However, Section 716.051(2) of the Texas Health and Safety Code (HSC) requires a crematory establishment not to cremate remains unless it receives a death certificate.  So in this case, even though the TAC would not require a death certificate for the fetal death, because the family requests crematory services, the funeral home (crematory establishment) should issue a death certificate in line with HSC §716.051.

TEXAS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE §181.7.  FETAL DEATH (STILLBIRTH).

(a) A certificate of fetal death shall be filed for any fetus weighing 350 grams or more, or if the weight is unknown, a fetus aged 20 weeks or more as calculated from the start date of the last normal menstrual period to the date of delivery.

(b) A certificate of fetal death shall be considered properly filed:

(1) when all of the items thereon have been satisfactorily and definitely answered; and

(2) when the certificate has been presented for filing to the local registrar of the registration district in which the fetal death (stillbirth) occurred or the fetus was found. A certificate of fetal death (stillbirth) shall be filed with the local registrar within five days after the date of fetal death (stillbirth).

TEXAS HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE §716.051. CREMATION AUTHORIZATION. 

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a crematory establishment may not cremate deceased human remains until it receives:

(1)  a cremation authorization form signed by an authorizing agent;  and   

(2)  a death certificate or other death record that indicates the deceased human remains may be cremated.


Q: What procedure should a funeral director follow if two people claiming to be the spouse of the deceased ask to be listed as the spouse on the death certificate?

A: Sometimes, two parties may provide conflicting information regarding the deceased. For example, the informant may state that the deceased is married (either common-law or by ceremony), but the family says otherwise (or vice versa). Also, there may be a conflict as to who will be listed as the surviving spouse. In these cases, the funeral director can ask for documentation or list the information provided by the informant because he or she is the funeral home customer. The funeral director has a statutory obligation to file the certificate on time. If necessary, conflicting parties can resolve their argument through the court system.

 

Last updated May 27, 2014