Your Last Wishes Can be as Unique as You Are

Katie was born on July 4th. She got married on that day also and gave birth to her son on July 6th (he was due on the 4th). She was in the military and is a proud American. For her, Independence Day and fireworks have special meaning. So, when she indicated her wishes in her estate planning documents, she included that she wants her cremains (cremated remains) to be put into fireworks to be set off on the following July 4th and left the person she appointed to be her agent $3,000 to do it.

Katie is not the only one who does not want to spend eternity in a wooden box in the ground. Deathcare startups have become more and more common in the United States and around the world, giving people other options instead of a traditional burial.

In one example, Alex Clements of Mesoloft launches human cremains far above the Earth—at the request of families of the deceased. Mesoloft has sent hundreds of pounds of human ashes miles above the Earth. While it may sound like an unusual memorial practice, “(t)here’s seismic shifts in the industry,” says Clements, a mechanical engineer and Mesoloft’s head of operations. “I think people are tired of being put in a wooden box in the ground.”

More Personalized Burial Options

With more people planning their own funerals in advance (instead of leaving decisions to their loved ones), personalization is on the rise. These days, you can even search for funeral ideas on Pinterest the same way you would for a birthday party or a wedding. While tried-and-true methods for memorializing the dead are sure to stick around, advancing technology seems to be creating limitless opportunities for personalization.

Unique Burial Options and New Technology

In the past, we wrote about unique burials, including burial pods, biodegradable urns, and being buried under a little house, known as a Burial Spirit House. Here are some other unusual burial options and new technology that you may not have known even existed:

· Bullets: In Alabama, the company, Holy Smoke, uses cremains to make custom-made bullets. Thad Holmes, who co-founded the company with business partner Clem Parnell, says the idea started (as so many deathcare startups seem to) over dissatisfaction with existing funeral options. Good options seemed sparse—until Holmes’ partner remarked he wanted his ashes put into turkey hunting shotgun shells. Today, customers can send Holmes and Parnell 1 pound of ashes (a fraction of the total cremains, which typically total 5 to 7 pounds) and two to four weeks later receive 250 shotgun shells, 120 pistol rounds, or 100 rifle rounds in return. The cost for these fully-functional memorial cartridges starts around $1,050.

· LED Vault: In Tokyo, Japan, the Ruriden is home to 2,046 small altars, with glass Buddha statues that correspond to drawers storing the ashes of the deceased. People can visit their deceased loved ones with the help of a smart card which grants access to the building and lights up their corresponding statue.

· Coeio Infinity Burial Suit: The Infinity Burial Suit is a handcrafted garment that is worn by the deceased. The suit is completely biodegradable and has a built in bio­mix, made up of of mushrooms and other microorganisms that together do three things; aid in decomposition, work to neutralize toxins found in the body and transfer nutrients to plant life. The end result of being buried in the Infinity Burial Suit, or any of Coeio’s products, is that bodies are transformed into vital nutrients that enrich the earth and foster new life. An Infinity Burial Shroud is also available.

· Living Headstones: Classic granite headstones can now display a built-in QR code that connects physical and digital memorials. Living Headstones QR Codes are placed directly on the monument and link to a personalized memorial web page. It can be viewed on the phone as visitors wander through the cemetery or on your computer by typing the unique web address into your internet browser. Although others may view the information, only visitors authorized by the family administrator can post information on the web page.

· Custom Printed Coffins: Custom environmentally-friendly cardboard coffins are artistically designed to depict the things you loved in life can include a sports team theme (if you are really a die-hard fan of the Capitals, for instance), a box depicting your career, or just about anything you loved during your life. They can be easily ordered online and quickly printed.

Make Your Burial Desires Known While You Still Can

What if you want a picture of your happy place printed on your coffin or if you want to be sent into space? How would your loved ones know if you haven’t indicated your wishes in your Advance Medical Directive?

Our proprietary 4-Needs Advance Medical Directive (TM) enables you to set forth your preferences with regard to organ donation, funeral arrangements, and disposition of remains. The document also accomplishes several essential things. In your 4-Needs Advance Medical Directive (TM), you can appoint an agent and give that person the power to consent to medical and health care decisions on your behalf. This person can decide whether to withhold or withdraw a specific medical treatment or course of treatment when you are incapable of making or communicating an informed decision yourself. Our 4-Needs Advance Medical Directive (TM) also contains a proprietary and newly-expanded Long-Term Care Directive (TM) that allows you to address dozens of important issues that arise if and when long-term care is needed and you’re unable to communicate your wishes. If you’re an existing member of our lifetime protection plan, you’re encouraged to contact us to create a new Advance Medical Directive with our newly-expanded Long-Term Care Directive (TM).

If you have not done Incapacity Planning (including our 4-Needs Advance Medical Directive (TM) and Financial Power of Attorney), Estate Planning, or Long-Term Care Planning, or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, please contact us to schedule your appointment for our initial consultation:

Fairfax Estate Planning: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Estate Planning: 540-479-1435
Rockville Estate Planning: 301-519-8041
DC Estate Planning: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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