Whatever goals you might have with regard to your funeral and burial, they are personal and they are your own. They can be a way to show your priorities and values, whether those relate to passing on your money to your loved ones or passing on to them a healthier planet. Today, more people are exploring alternate funeral and burial arrangements in order to save money and/or save the planet. Even if your goals for your funeral and burial are ordinary, but especially if they are somewhat unique, it is vitally important that you make sure that they are communicated properly to those you will leave behind to make decisions on your behalf after you've passed. Proper estate planning means taking the steps to put into writing your funeral and burial wishes.
In any point in history, times are always changing, values are changing and, as a result, people's way of doing things change, as well. For many decades, especially here in the United States, people have come to expect that the post-death path their body will take will involve embalming and burial in a casket in the ground or cremation and interment.
In recent years, some have begun to re-think that process. A rising trend is something called a “natural burial.” In a natural burial, your body is placed in the ground, with no embalming or other chemicals used, in a biodegradable casket or else wrapped in just a shroud. Both your body and your container will then return to the earth naturally.
These “natural” burials have multiple possible benefits. For one thing, they offer the potential of substantially lower expense. In decades past, a person laid to rest in a pauper's grave might have a simple pine wood box as his/her casket. While these boxes were biodegradable, they were used because they were inexpensive. Today, a traditional funeral and burial with all the elements commonly associated with it can cost many thousands of dollars. The casket alone can cost in excess of $2,000, according to a Kiplinger report. For families with limited financial means, spending $7,000, $10,000 or even more may be an impossible thing to accomplish. A natural burial may have the advantage of saving the family thousands.
Aside from the monetary benefits, the primary “plus” for many people who consider natural burial is the role it plays in helping to save the planet. According to a Pacific Standard report, Americans put in the ground “73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles) of hardwood boards, 58,500 tons of steel, 1.5 million tons of concrete, and 3.1 million liters (819,000 gallons) of formaldehyde.” That's quite a lot and many of these materials biodegrade very slowly if at all. This has the potential to be very unhealthy for the environment long-term.
Whether your concerns focus chiefly on financial responsibility or environmental responsibility, proper estate planning can help you ensure that your objectives become reality. Proper planning can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you will be buried in a way that's consistent with your values, and your loved ones can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they've made decisions consistent with what you would have wanted.