At Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory we get a number of questions about the formal terms that are involved in the cremation process – types of death, documents needed to complete a cremation, and specific requests that may be unusual.
In general terms there are four manners of death – these categories fall into natural causes; accidental death; homicide; and suicide.
Why is death categorized at all? It is important to understand, for many legal reasons, the actual cause for the passing. Making assumptions is not enough: concrete proof is needed.
First category, natural causes, is quite simply exactly what it seems. This is when the body stops functioning on its own, or due to some illness (cancer, heart disease) which bring about death in a natural way.
Second category, accidental death, is a broad category which encompasses all manner of death excluding natural causes, murder, and suicide. For example, accidental death can result in manslaughter charges against someone – this would be involuntary murder.
Accidental death can also include a legal interpretation of death – that is, when someone is liable for a death of another, which may result in some type of civil action.
Many accidental deaths are a result of what is called “misadventure.” This is related to an accident in which the victim is doing something that involves them taking a risk that places them in mortal danger.
Third category, homicide, is in its simplest terms, one human being killing another. Murder can fall into two large categories; first degree murder (premeditated), or second degree murder (unlawful killing without premeditation). There are approximately a half a million global homicides per year.
Fourth category, suicide, is the deliberate taking of one’s own life. There are more than 44,000 suicides per year in the United States.
The documents that are needed in order to cremate here at Martin Oaks in Lewisville, Texas include a burial transit permit; medical examiner or justice of the peace letter; family authorization to cremate; and a visual identification form.
Burial transit permit is a form which is a complete identification of the deceased. It includes the place of death (city, county, state), the name of the funeral director, and other relevant data. A copy of the permit is required to accompany any remains that are moved.
What are some of the guideline used for issuing a burial transit permit? A funeral director, who assumes custody of the deceased, usually files an electronic report through vital statistics to report the death. This completed report serves as an authority to transport the body within the state of death.
The office of the medical examiner certifies that the deceased can be processed through cremation. It indicates that no autopsy is required, or it may be issued following an autopsy. If there is no medical examiner in the county of death then a Justice of the Peace letter may be required.
Authorization for cremation and disposition is signed by an appropriate next of kin so that we may continue the process. This next of kin releases all agents involved in the cremation from liability in connection with the cremation.
Additionally, Martin Oaks will ask for a visual identification acknowledgment signed by the next of kin verifying the identity of the deceased. This is not strictly required by law.
These requirements may seem to be onerous to family members going through the process because they take a while to complete. It is our experience, however, that circumstances arise which require procedural data – these forms have come in handy on a number of occasions through the years.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at Martin Oaks.