Everything You Never Knew About Disposing of Your Remains: Pt. 1 – Burial from Austin Estate Planning Attorney Elizabeth Ziegler

Like most aspects of estate planning, the decision about what to do with your body is often an uncomfortable one to make.

When making an estate plan, one important decision is what you want done with your mortal remains.  That’s right, it’s not just your estate which needs planning for, but also your body when you’re no longer using it.  Like most aspects of estate planning, the decision about what to do with your body is often an uncomfortable one to make.  Often loved ones can be left guessing, “what would he or she have wanted?” if there are no specific instructions left behind.

In this series of posts, we will cover some of the issues surrounding funeral and burial options (from the traditional to the unconventional) and address questions of cost, environmental impact, and some of the potential pitfalls your loved ones could encounter while carrying out your wishes.

Keeping it Conventional With a Burial

When most of us think of funerary arrangements, we first think of either burial or cremation.  When it comes to burial, we have a picture a grave in a peaceful cemetery.  Or, with the growing popularity of cremation, the choice either suggests keeping an urn in the home or of interring in a niche at a local cemetery.  Both these images spring to mind for a reason because they are the most common options made either by those making the estate plan, or by loved ones scrambling to make a plan after a death.

Staggering Sticker Shock!

While conventional, keep in mind that a typical funeral and burial is anything but cheap.  Often costing more than some pricey weddings, the cost of a typical funeral and burial in the state of Texas starts at around $7,700 on average.  Of course, additional bells and whistles, or requests for specific religious rites, will only add to this amount.  Also, keep in mind this estimate does not factor in the price of the burial plot if you are opting for a grave or a vault.

Last Resting Place … Maybe?

There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a burial plot, namely the price.  No matter if you’re purchasing a plot in a public or private cemetery, the cost will be steep.  For that amount of money, many people consider burial plots to be like any other real estate purchase; unfortunately, this is a mistake.  On reading the fine print, you’ll often discover that what you’ve purchased is the right (or the license) to use the land for burial purposes, and ownership of the plot stays with the cemetery. In Texas, burial plots can be transferred through a will or other estate plan, so long as they are a specifically named bequest. They don’t pass automatically to your loved ones.

Another thing to consider is whether that spot will in fact remain your final resting place.  That’s right, you may have to move at some point.  Texas law does allow the removal of your remains from the cemetery or relocation within the cemetery itself.  The requirements of notice and consent vary, depending on whether the cemetery is publicly or privately owned.  Meaning, your final resting place may not be as permanent as you hope.

Where Do I Start the Estate Planning & Burial Process

Now days it takes some long-term planning and investment to truly prepare for your final resting place. No wonder the pharos spent decades buildings their tombs! There are many options for funerals pre-planning, but another part of preparing is meeting with an estate planning attorney to designate your agent who will carry out your wishes, no matter what option you choose. If you have never made an estate plan, or if you have one that needs updating, Nielsen Law is happy to work with you to ensure that your last wishes are carried out.

Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate and disposition of remains disposal for families and individuals in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.