Addressing Common Burial Myths
Before you begin the important and inevitable journey of constructing a will, I firmly believe in researching your burial options. This includes dispelling common burial myths that tamper with the already difficult decision-making process. Unfortunately, many burial myths originate in funeral homes and cemeteries. Organizations trying to make an extra buck have convinced unsuspecting patrons to buy the wrong insurance, invest in expensive vaults, etc.
The following blog will outline some of the most common burial myths! From there, your attorney can help you make informed decisions about burial decisions.
The Practical and Legal Purpose of Embalming
One of the biggest myths surrounding burial options pertains to the practice of embalming. Embalming is rarely necessary, as refrigeration serves the same effect, but these laws vary from state to state. For example, in Louisiana, the law mandates that a body must be either embalmed or refrigerated (below 45 degrees) if cremation or burial will not occur within 30 hours of the person’s death.
This means that if you are not comfortable with your body being preserved by chemicals, that’s okay. Refrigeration works just as well for a viewing or burial and is less harmful to the environment.
Fun Fact: In many states, whatever (for lack of a better word) “waste” is pushed out of the body is drained into the public sewer! I’ll bet nobody told the Ninja Turtles that little tidbit.
Cremation-What are the rules?
In Louisiana, you must have a permit to cremate remains from the coroner from the parish in which the death occurred. This permit currently costs $50.
And while the rules behind spreading ashes vary depending on your interests, or beliefs, there are no laws in any state preventing the spread of ashes on your own private property. Cremated “ashes” (fine bone fragments) are considered “final disposition,” meaning they no longer pose a health threat. You can even spread your ashes in the ocean, in a public park or in space! (Depending on the property’s regulations and your own financial ability.)
Burying ashes are just as easy. If you prefer to have a viewing, you can dictate that preference in an advance directive.
Are Burial Vaults Legally Mandatory?
In a word: No. While burial vaults are commonly required by cemeteries, they are not legally mandated. However, cemeteries do use them to avoid heavy machinery leaving indentations in or collapsing the graves.
Buyers Beware: As the United State cremation rate rises to record highs, cemeteries are more likely to make the claim that “burial vaults” are a legal requirement for cremated remains. This information is not accurate.
Is it Better to Prepay for a Funeral?
As an attorney, you can already guess that I’m pretty gung-ho about pre-planning final arrangements. But while there are plenty of advantages for those who want to pre-plan their services, there is no real benefit to making payments in advance. There is no way to predict how the prices will change, and if a funeral home goes out of business, you’re out of luck.
In Louisiana, You Can Avoid Hiring a Funeral Home
Louisiana is one of only eight states that legally requires the use of a funeral director. According to Louisiana Laws, R.S. 37: “Every dead human body shall be disposed of and prepared through a funeral establishment and under the supervision of a licensed funeral home or embalmer.” This can be a problem for religious groups that require more personal maintenance of their dead, such as bathing or shrouding.
It may seem strange that your body immediately becomes the property of a for-profit organization of the state after you die. There are, however, loopholes. It is still possible to use a family burial ground, but you will have to jump some hoops and file with the Louisiana Cemetery Board to register your family burial ground. Additionally, neither a funeral home nor a crematory can refuse to release a body to the family.
Do You Still Have Questions? Call McCloskey!
In conclusion, planning what happens after you die is never an easy process. Make sure you’re getting all the right information by hiring an attorney you can trust. Call McCloskey for your consultation today!