Successions Law aligns with the distribution of your assets and what you want your family to inherit once you pass away. But Successions consists of so much more! This fascinating division of legal practice is also about you and your needs. How do you want your body to be treated upon your death?
The treatment of a body after death has a lot to do with spiritual and personal preference, so it’s important to carefully consider what will make your passing feel respected as you are memorialized.
This post focuses on one of the most mysterious burial options: Cremation. There are plenty of misconceptions about cremation, so let’s dive right in.
What is cremation?
Cremation is, essentially, the process of reducing the body to bone fragments by applying intense heat for a period of two or three hours. While the definition sounds intense, cremation is a touching way for a family to spend more time with the remains of someone they love or to have your ashes distributed in a location close to your heart.
Why do people choose cremation?
Cremation is a relatively cost-effective burial option and is approximately 40-50% less expensive than its burial brethren, earth burials and mausoleum entombment. Because cremation reduces the overall mass of a body, it also saves ground space and eliminates the need for a headstone. For those concerned for the safety of our planet, cremation is an environmentally-gentle option because it is no longer necessary to preserve the body using embalming chemicals.
There is, however, a lot of flexibility when it comes to cremating your remains. You can still have the headstone, the viewing and the service. Or, you can skip the embalming and go straight to being spread over your favorite bed of flowers. Gene Roddenberry, the inventor of Star Trek, chose to have his remains scattered in orbit from a satellite so he could continue his exploration of space long after his death.
What are the rules for having an open casket?
The same as any other burial option! Cremation does not limit the type of funeral service. It can take place before or after the funeral service and the time and place is completely up to you.
What about personal mementos?
Families may place personal items in the casket where they can even go through the cremation process with the body of the deceased. If the item is not fire-degradable, it will be removed prior to the cremation process. Everything else left in the casket will be destroyed.
Your funeral advisor will advise you as to which items to remove before the end of the service.
Where am I allowed to spread my ashes?
It’s a beautiful sentiment to be able to spread your remains in a place close to your heart. This could be the spot of your first date with your partner, a path at your favorite lake or the parking lot of that bowling alley you made 6 strikes in a row. Whatever you fancy, it’s entirely up to you what makes you feel like your final wishes are being honored.
There are some places that forbid the scattering of ashes, and it’s important to take their legal rights into consideration before deciding you want to be presidentially laid to rest at Mount Rushmore. (You may from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 30th after obtaining the $25 permit.)
Spreading your ashes in nature: It goes without saying that you should request permission before spreading your ashes on private property. Most national parks allow you to spread ashes as long as you obtain a permit and alert the chief park ranger. Every private area has different rules, so it’s important to do your research to ensure you are respectful of property owners and their regulations.
Spreading your ashes at sea: Good news! You are allowed to spread your ashes at sea as long as you follow the rules.
- You cannot direct your ashes to be spread any further than 3 nautical miles out to sea.
- If using an urn, it must be biodegradable.
- If using any decorative adornments (such as a flower wreath), it must be biodegradable.
Finally, you may scatter your ashes using a plane or a boat, so you can float serenely above the sea.
There are some places, such as Walt Disney World, that do not allow the scattering of ashes. Legally, the local police consider it a misdemeanor. But that doesn’t stop people from trying! At Disney World, calling for a “HEPA Cleanup” indicates that someone has attempted to scatter their loved one’s ashes, and the cleanup requires a HEPA vacuum.
Whatever you choose, make sure the location is right for you as well as respectful to its inhabitants.
Cremation Directive: Think Cremation is the Right Choice for You?
If you want to be cremated, be sure to execute an Advance Directive before a Notary Public that is in compliance with R.S. 8:655 and R.S. 37:876. Contact your attorney to ensure that your directives are followed after you are gone. Call Edward J. McCloskey to get started on your Will today!