“There Has to be a Better Place than This,” from Austin Estate Planning Lawyer Liz Nielsen

Alternative disposal of remains -- Austin Estate Planning Lawyer

Sandy Gibson was young when his parents died: his father died when he was 10, and his mother died a short time later, after a five-year bout with cancer, when he was 11.

His parents were buried in the last family plot in an old church cemetery, alongside a busy road and near a fire station. Sandy wasn’t particularly happy with their burial sites, feeling that their love of nature wasn’t well reflected in the busy, noisy cemetery. He also felt that his mother’s charitable activities weren’t adequately represented after her death. (After her cancer diagnosis, she founded Wellspring, a Canadian not-for-profit providing support services to families dealing with a cancer diagnosis in the family.) He writes “I’ve spent most of my life going to their grave and my mom was this incredibly inspiring person. But for her, the end of her life story is a blank tombstone in a crowded cemetery on a busy street.”

As a result, he himself founded Better Place Forests, with the tagline “Make a tree your memorial.” Instead of disposing of a loved one’s remains in a cemetery, the remains are cremated, and scattered under a permanently protected tree dedicated to the deceased. Family plots, with a pre-specified number of trees for family members, are available.

Better Place Forests only has forest locations in the western United States at this point. However, alternative methods of disposing of your remains are available in many states. If you are interested, be aware that laws vary from state to state and sometimes from city to city. Further, not all religious traditions permit non-traditional methods of disposal. An estate planning attorney can advise you.

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