A Green Thumb After Death? Human Composting “Circle Of Life” Laws Are Trending

A Green Thumb After Death? Human Composting “Circle Of Life” Laws Are Trending

Do you want an alternative to traditional burial or cremation? In the past 5 years, 7 states (and Arizona presently has a bill pending to make it the 8th state) have legalized the ecological death care process of using microbes to break down the body so that it can be fertile soil (for flowers, trees, etc.). 

The process of human composting usually takes 3-8 weeks and is more expensive than cremation (usually around $5000-$7000, exclusive of embalming, funeral service or shipping).  The body of the deceased is placed into a stainless-steel container with straw, woodchips and alfalfa. After that time period, bones, teeth and soil are left and sometimes metal implants.  The bones and teeth are reduced to a fine powder by equipment and added to the soil.  Non-organic material (such as metal parts) is then taken away from it. 

Washington became the first state to permit natural organic reduction (human composting) in 2019.  Although it is illegal in Texas, some Texas companies arrange for shipping the deceased to a state that permits human composting. 

In Texas, one estate planning document often used is entitled “Disposition of Bodily Remains”.  You can give instructions on how you want your body handled after death and an order of who is in charge of your body after your death.  It is common if you want cremation and haven’t taken care of it, then the funeral home requests permission of the immediate family.  Texas has a law on the order of who is in charge of your body after your death if you don’t have a Disposition of Bodily Remains.  That is why the father of Atatiana Jefferson (the woman who was shot inside her home by a Ft. Worth police officer a few years ago) prevailed in his suit to keep her funeral private.  (Texas law prevailed since she had no Disposition of Bodily Remains).

So, whether one desires cremation or composting of your body or just naming someone who is in charge of handling your body, funeral service, etc., this document should be considered.  Personal care plans can also be used to give instruction for your burial, etc.

Another ecological disposition of your body is after cremation, the ashes are put in a concrete structure designed to attract aquatic plants and fish when left in the ocean.  Artificial reefs are placed nearby to help the ashes become a reef ball.

Although it is far from becoming mainstream, green burial options are becoming a new alternative option that appears to be growing and may be more common in the future. 

If interested in learning more about this article or other estate planning, Medicaid and public benefits planning, probate, etc., attend one of our free upcoming Estate Planning Essentials workshops by clicking here or calling 214-720-0102. We make it simple to attend and it is without obligation.

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