So you’ve finally done it . . . created an estate plan which perfectly states your wishes and desires. Living Trust? Check.Pour-Over Will? Check. Property Power of Attorney? Check. Advance Health Care Directive? Check . . . well, almost. You’vecompleted most of it, isn’t that enough? You just can’t decide about the disposition of your remains . . . . do you want to be buried? Cremated? If you’re cremated, do you want your ashes scattered or kept in an urn? What do you want done with the urn? Until as recently as 10 years ago, Californians who chose to be cremated could only legally have their ashes disposed of three miles off the coast or in a cemetery, and even then, only by a registered cremated-remains disposer. People were left with the dilemma of whether to abide by the wishes of their loved one regarding disposition of his/her remains, or break the law.
In 1999, Tom Torlakson, an assemblyman in Antioch, introduced a bill which was prompted by a 1997 scandal in which the cremated remains of approximately 5,000 people were found in a Contra Costa shed. The law is now relatively straightforward – when spreading ashes on the ground, assuming no local prohibition exists, written permission must be obtained from the property owner. (See California Health and Safety Code §7116). When scattering remains at sea, as long as the remains are scattered at least 500 yards from shore, subject to the proper procedure being followed, cremated may be taken by boat from any harbor in California, or by air, and scattered at sea. (See California Health and Safety Code §7117).
After one family heard about the law, they approached a company called “Creative Cremains” to dispose of their father’s ashes, which had been sitting in an urn on the fireplace whose ultimate disposition was the subject of disagreement between family members. The father was a rocket scientist and loved all things space-related. His family’s choice? Take a 60-foot yacht out to sea, blasting Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” and watch the spectacular fireworks display which contained their father’s ashes being spread into the atmosphere over San Francisco Bay. (Contact Creative Cremains for more information).
Another option could have been to launch a portion of their father’s remains into a satellite, to be released into the Earth’s orbit, onto the lunar surface, or into deep space. (Contact Celestis for more information).
Space travel not your thing, but you have a passion for old vinyl records? No problem. Have your remains pressed into a vinyl record which can be personalized with your spoken words (recorded while you were living, of course), chosen music (assuming permission from artist granted), and personalized cover art. Of course, the sound quality may not be as good as some of the finer vinyl pressings, however, the pops and crackles will be a reminder to your loved ones that you are near. (Contact Andvinyly for more information).
Perhaps you’re a hunter and want to go out with a bang? Easy. Have some of your remains pressed into ammunition. (Contact Holy Smoke LLC for more information).
Do you love diamonds? Leave diamonds like no other behind – have a portion of your cremated remains pressed into one ormore diamonds to be distributed to your loved ones. (Contact LifeGem for more information).
One of the more unique and eco-conscious alternatives for disposing of your remains is having them mixed into a reef ball which will then be placed in the ocean to help rehabilitate and rebuild dying reefs and add new habitat to the marine environment. Not only will you be contributing to the betterment of the environment, but you will help sustain new life long after you are gone. (Contact Eternal Reef for more information).
Now you’re ready. Go ahead and fill out that final space in your Advance Health Care Directive, and rest assured that you are, in fact, leaving a lasting legacy.