What happens to my body after I die? Under Washington law, funeral homes take instructions when they are left in a witnessed writing by the decedent, or from next of kin. The problem is that the next of kin aren’t always in agreement: Did Dad want to be cremated or buried? Did Mom have specific instructions? After a death is a difficult time to make those decisions, so we help clients put their intentions in writing. We can also help discuss Washington’s new provisions for composting, as well as other options our clients sometimes are interested in such as body donation.
When does the new Washington law on composting of human remains take effect?
The law provides for two new means of disposition of human remains. The statute calls them “alkaline hydrolysis” and “natural organic reduction.” They are generally referred to together as “composting.” The new law takes effect on May 1, 2020.
Who does the funeral home release ashes to?
Funeral homes release ashes to the person designated in writing by the decedent, or to the decedent’s next of kin, or to the executor of the decedent’s estate.
Can I donate my body to science?
Some areas have reputable body donation programs, such as the University of Washington’s Willed Bodies Program. You should thoroughly research such programs in advance to make sure you are comfortable with them. Each program has its own set of documents that must be executed well in advance of a death. You must also make sure your loved ones know of your plans in advance so they can follow them for you.
Can my ashes be spread anywhere?
The ashes resulting from cremation are still considered human remains, and there are many laws regulating where human remains can be disposed of. For example, the EPA does not allow burial at sea within three nautical miles of shore; technically this includes cremated remains. Additionally, private landowners may be reluctant to grant formal permission for scattering of ashes for a number of reasons. Consult an attorney for guidelines regarding scattering of ashes.