Should You Create a Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains?

This month’s Legal Brief focuses on planning for what happens with our physical body after we pass away. Colorado law allows you to create a document, called the Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains. This can include your wishes for your body and any ceremonial arrangements or special instructions you might have as a way to give your family guidance when making arrangements after your passing.

What is a Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains?

This document specifies how you would like your remains to be handled after your death. You can elect for burial, cremation, or any other option that you choose. You can also share what type of ceremony and other arrangements you would like. Having this document completed helps your family know your wishes and takes some of the difficulty out of planning for your memorial while they are grieving. At Stone Law we include a Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains in most estate plans. You can fill this out to give your family guidance and have it notarized on your own or at our office.

What are some of my options?

There’s the typical burial we tend to see in movies. This option requires a plot in a cemetery or tomb or vault. After death the body is embalmed and placed in a casket. The funeral typically consists of a viewing and then the casket is taken to the final resting place.

From there the sky is literally the limit. Cremation opens the possibilities to celebrating the life of the deceased in whatever way honors their memory. Following are several ideas to help you complete your Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains.

Cremated remains can be placed in a columbarium. These tend to be part of beautifully designed gardens. Typically found at a church, you might also find a columbarium at a retirement community or cemetery. Placing some of all of a loved ones ashes in a columbarium allows you to have a physical place to visit. Often there is a plaque with their name and maybe special message. This can be a wonderful way to remember someone special.

Maybe you want your ashes spread at one or several of your favorite places. Before you send loved ones on a wild mission check for requirements or any issues spreading ashes. Some places may ban spreading ashes or the practice could be illegal. Others may have specific requirements. Your friends or family will likely go to great lengths to honor your wishes so do what you can to keep them safe while doing so.

If you love the beach, whether an ocean or a lake, there are likely laws and guidelines if you want to spread ashes or have a memorial there. In addition to specific procedures, you may also need a permit. Perfect Memorials has some planning tips as well as options for biodegradable urns that mitigate pollution. The site also has ceremony ideas to help make your memorial a special celebration of your loved one.

Learn more about a beach/at sea memorial at Perfect Memorials

Another option is spreading some of your loved ones ashes in a national park. Similar to a beach, national parks often will let you spread ashes but likely have requirements and you’ll probably need a permit. If this interests you, check out this list for parks across the US and Canada for information.

Maybe you love trees and nature. Or simply want to contribute to the environment in a positive way. There are ways to incorporate your ashes into a memorial forest. The Living Urn is one option in Colorado as well as a few other states. Look for a location that fits your family’s needs and budget. You might also simply look into incorporating ashes into an existing garden on your property.

From creating memorial jewelry to fireworks with ashes, there are so many possibilities. Maybe you want to press some ashes into a vinyl record. Or add a few ashes to a plush animal. Are you an art lover? You can turn ashes into works of art, or even simply display them within a beautiful urn.

Remember when we mentioned that the sky was the limit? There are many mysteries in space. The unknown and even things discovered captivate lots of people. If you or your loved one loves space and all things celestial then maybe sending some DNA or ashes into space would be a fitting memorial. A handful of companies do this. Look for ones that do so with the least amount of impact and at a cost that fits your budget.

Find an idea that you love? Ensure your family knows your wishes by completing your Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains. None of these suit you and your family? Search for other creative ways to honor the memory of your loved one. If what you want to do doesn’t exist maybe it’s time to create something special and unique.

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