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Are Burial And Cremation The Only Options?


Maybe you do not care what will happen to your money after you die, and perhaps you do not have any money for anyone to inherit, but one thing is certain.  Everyone who dies leaves behind mortal remains.  Even if you do not have any property, you at least owe it to the people who care about you to indicate your wishes about the final disposition of your remains.  The last thing you want is for your siblings to become permanently estranged because they disagree about whether you would have chosen burial or cremation.  Of course, from the perspective of environmental sustainability, neither burial nor cremation is an especially appealing option.  Florida has legalized a third option for disposition of remains, known as alkaline hydrolysis, and a few states even allow for a process known as human composting.  An Orlando estate planning lawyer can help you articulate your wishes about the final disposition of your remains.

Alkaline Hydrolysis and Florida Law

Most people still choose burial or cremation, as these have been the most common funerary practices throughout the world for much of human history.  In their modern forms, though, both can contribute to environmental degradation.  Embalmed bodies take a long time to biodegrade, as do the materials used in caskets.  Ashes are not harmful to the environment, but the fuels used for modern cremation are.  Several locations in Florida offer alkaline hydrolysis, also known as aqua cremation or flameless cremation.  In this process, the body is placed in a heated chemical solution, and within three hours, the soft tissues dissolve, leaving only the bones, which can be easily ground up to be kept in an urn or scattered like cremated remains.  Florida law includes alkaline hydrolysis within the definition of cremation.

Florida Does Not Allow Human Composting, at Least Not Yet

Another eco-friendly method of disposition of remains is called human composting.  In this process, the body is placed in a reusable container with compostable plant scraps and bacteria that are conducive to the breakdown of compostable material.  It takes about a month for the body to be broken down into soil, which is then returned to the decedent’s family.  A similar process eventually happens to the body after a conventional burial, but it happens much more slowly.  Florida law does not allow composting as of January 2023.  It was first legalized in Washington state in 2019, and now it is also legal in Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California, and New York.

Without the decedent’s wishes clearly indicated in a will, the decision about final disposition of remains is a painful one.  If you wish to choose an option other than conventional burial or cremation, discuss the legal details with your estate planning lawyer.

Contact Gierach and Gierach About Estate Plans for Disposition of Remains

An estate planning lawyer can help you think clearly about the disposition of the remaining provision in your will and other aspects of your estate plan.  Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.




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