Cremation FAQ: Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office (TCME)
This FAQ provides answers to questions about what the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office does and their role in cremations in the county and beyond.

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If you’re planning on having a cremation in the Austin area the Travis County Medical Examiner may be a part of the process. 

What does the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office do?

The TCME office is in charge of medicolegal death investigations. This means the Travis County Medical Examiner will investigate and determine the manner and cause of death whenever a death is: 

  • Unnatural
  • Violent
  • Sudden
  • Suspicious 
  • Unexpected
  • Suicide
  • The person was unattended at the time of death
  • The deceased is six years old or younger
  • Cause of death is unknown

The TCME will investigate in another instance as well. Anytime a death occurs within 24 hours of entering a nursing home, hospital, jail, prison or other institution an examination by the Travis County Medical Examiner is required. 

What areas does the Travis County Medical Examiner serve?

The TCME serves all of Travis County including Austin, Pflugerville, Lakeway, parts of Round Rock and Cedar Park. The Texas County Medical Examiner can also provide services in 43 surrounding counties if requested.  

How does the TCME classify cause of death?

When a death is questionable the Texas County Medical Examiner will have to determine the cause. The cause of death will be classified as one of the following:

  • Disease
  • Injury
  • Drug toxicity
  • Factors that caused a derangement severe enough to cause death

How does the TCME categorize the manner of death?

The manner of death is the circumstances surrounding how the death happened and is divided into five categories: 

  • Natural
  • Accident
  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • Undetermined

Will the Travis County Medical Examiner do an autopsy? 

Not always. In some cases an external examination can determine the cause of death. Medical records are also used to determine the cause. Most examinations only take 12-24 hours. 

What roles does the Travis County Medical Examiner play in cremations?

Before a cremation can be approved the Travis County Medical Examiner may need to determine the cause of death. Once that is done and recorded on the death certificate the cremation can go forward. 

Will the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office coordinate with a funeral home?

Yes, if the funeral home is approved by the TCME it will work with the funeral to arrange transfer of the body after the examination. But a legal next of kin has to sign a release form and submit it to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office before that can happen. 

The TCME will also coordinate with the funeral home as needed to ensure that the family gets the deceased’s personal effects. A legal next of kin can also choose to have the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office hold on to personal effects so they can be picked up. 

Can the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office be contacted?

Yes. You can call the TCME at (512) 854-9599 24 hours a day.

Green Cremation Texas is an approved funeral home with the Travis County Medical Examiner. We can help you gain the information you need and work with the TCME to get cremations approved. Call, text or email today if you have any questions

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