Cremation; Preparation of an Estate and Will

It is a fact of life; we all will die at some point. For many, estate planning is a process we defer until later in life and, unfortunately, is often overlooked or forgotten before it is too late. As part of a simple estate and will planning process, one should consider the method in which burial and funeral services should take place and, while planning, should explore the various cost options involved so as to alleviate this burden from mourning family members. Understanding the cremation process, advantages and disadvantages to cremation and the steps for pre-planning a cremation, will further enhance an estate planning portfolio.

Cremation is the method of final disposition of a body following death. In some states, a waiting period must pass, in addition to approval by a medical examiner, before cremation may occur. Involving a three hours process, cremation involves the deceased being placed into a combustible container and prepared for the cremation process. The cremation staff arrange for removal all combustible items, such as pacemakers and orthopedic appliances, to ensure a safe and clean cremation process. Jewelry and other memorable items should also be removed. To preserve the dignity of the deceased, the body is placed into a container which will burn into ashes of organic materials. Once the initial cremation process is complete, only ashes and bone fragments are available at which point the cremation staff will process the ashes and bone fragment into a fine powdered substance.

Once cremation is complete, the decision as to what method in which to dispose of the ashes must take place. As part of an estate and will planning process, it is recommended that a decision be made with regard to disposition prior to the time of death. Options vary from storing the ashes in an urn, throwing ashes out to sea or onto private property, burial in a cemetery or even storing the ashes in a mausoleum. Any of these options are feasible with costs varying depending on the method chosen.

When establishing a will and an estate planning arrangement, and choosing cremation as a method for your mortal disposition, there are a few items that should be addressed within the estate planning outline. First, clearly establish the desire to be cremated and, if any, what circumstances in which cremation should not take place. Next, select the combustible cremation casket in which the cremation will take place. Selection can be made through a local funeral or cremation service. Once the cremation casket is chosen, select and purchase the urn in which the ashes will be stored, either permanently or until they are dispersed by the family. And finally, establish the method in which the ashes should be disposed; burial, mausoleum or thrown to land or sea, and outline any memorial or pre-cremation funeral services you may desire. When completing these steps, consider cost associated with the process and, if possible, establish pre-payment or funding so as to alleviate this burden from the family members.

Cremation offers many advantages in terms of land space, cost and efficiency. A disadvantage for cremation is the lack of tangible, mortal remains so often needed in the healing and recovery process for family members left behind. Before choosing cremation as part of the estate and will planning process, discuss the option with your family to ensure the most appropriate plans are arranged and to ensure the family is in agreement to comply.

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