How to Dispose of Your Remains

So, you've been thinking deeply and reflecting on life and you realize that someday you are going to die. Don't fret too much because we are all only arguing about the timing. 

Many people have questions about funerals. So I thought I would lay how you make these decisions, what happens if you don't make these decisions, and what are the possible choices.

How Do you Express your Wishes on How to Dispose of Your Remains?

First, you can prepay your final expenses by going into any funeral parlor within the State of New York or Connecticut. By doing so, you will make all of these decisions while prepaying them, and they are ensured that the undertaker will follow their wishes.

Second , you can put it in your Will.

Third, if a person wishes to become a cadaver donor, they can sign donor cards during their lifetime to arrange that. Contact your favorite or nearest medical school (there are many in New York and Connecticut) and they will be more than happy to send you the cards.

Fourth, a person can sign a document separate from the Will called a Funeral Directive (Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains), where the client would make their wishes known and also select the person who is in charge of making sure that those wishes come to pass. 

What Happens if You do Nothing?

If you don't designate how to dispose of your remains, family members are charged with making the decisions.  The decisions are first made by the spouse or domestic partner, and followed by parents, and adult children.  Many people are comfortable telling their family members their wishes and allowing them to make the decisions.

What are the Possible choices to dispose of my remains?

The primary two methods are burial or cremation. You can also donate your body for research.  Often, a person's religious and spiritual beliefs come into play here.

Burial 

Burial is the most popular choice. In order to arrange a burial, there are a variety of decisions that have to be made.

First, what happens to a body before the burial? Is the person going to be embalmed and waked or is there going to be an immediate burial without embalming?

Second, is there going to be a wake.  If so, where and when and what are the arrangements.  Is it open or closed

Third, you will have to choose a coffin or casket. There are choices that are more expensive and less expensive with different styles and decorations

Fourth, are there going to be services? Will they be religious or non-religious?  Will there be some sort of memorial or celebration of life? 

For those people who are environmentally conscious, there are such things as green burials. A green burial involves wrapping a non-embalmed body in a sheet and burying it directly in the earth, without a casket.

Currently, there are only a few jurisdictions that allow this so you need to check with the local authorities. 

Cremation

Cremation is the second most popular choice. 

It is becoming increasingly popular because it is substantially less expensive than a burial and you can be very creative with the ashes.

Once you decide to be cremated, the next question is what happens to the ashes. They can be put into a decorative urn for a family member to keep as a memory. Or, they can be scattered in a favorite or meaningful place. 

Just be aware that there are restrictions on how a person may dispose of ashes. Some things such as scattering them in a park or into a body of water requires a permit and there are limitations on bringing them on an airline.

Cadaver Donation

Cadaver Donation is another choice.

A cadaver donation is the donation of the entire cadaver to a medical school for research and study.

The medical school will take the cadaver and medical students work on it generally for up to two years. They can use it for various purposes, from anatomical study to testing new therapies and medicines. One of the attractive things about this is that a person may contribute to someone else's knowledge, education, and even the advancement of medicine in general. Another good thing about this is that the medical school pays all of the undertaking costs. And at the end of the study period, the medical school will cremate the remains at their own expense.

Normally the medical school will give you three choices for the ashes:

-You can give them to whomever you wish.

-They can scatter them at sea and give you a certificate commemorating that.

-They can bury them in a communal burial plot maintained by the school.

Elder, Wills, Estates, Trusts, Special Needs Tax & Business Law; Attorney John Sweeney

Sweeney Legal, LLC, provides legal, practical, and business counsel to Seniors, families, and businesses in the Fairfield, Connecticut area, including the communities of Bridgeport, Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, New Canaan, Newtown, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton. John is also licensed in New York serving Westchester County including the towns of Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, and Somers.

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