Disposition of Remains Update from Austin Estate Planning Attorney Elizabeth Ziegler


Back in 2021, this blog presented a series of posts on the various methods for disposing of your remains after you pass away. In that series, we covered everything from conventional burial, to outlandish cryogenic preservation, and many many options in between. Since the time of posting, new legislation has passed, and other interesting options have become available altogether. Here is a quick update on a few of those options.

Mushrooms Update – From Suits to Caskets to Mushrooms, Oh My!

In our previous blog, we discussed the public’s growing awareness of the impact modern burials (and even cremations) have on the environment. One alternative discussed was the option for a natural burial (meaning without embalming) and with a plain shroud, seagrass/wicker casket, or one made of plain wood boards. We also discussed the use of mushroom suit burial. This type of burial normally has the decedent buried in a cotton suit, sewn with mushroom spores. Since the original post in 2021, a new product has become available for the environment conscious — mushroom coffins. The Associate Press reports these new types of coffins are grown from mycelium (which is the root structure of mushrooms) along with hemp fiber together inside a special kind of mold to shape a coffin which looks strikingly similar to Egyptian sarcophagi.

The philosophy behind these fungal-funerary edifices is the same as that of natural burial or mushroom suit burial, the desire to return your remains to the earth without all the harsh metals and concrete in a modern burial. The article claims these mushroom coffins breakdown and return the body to nature within approximately six weeks. Even those people choosing cremation can still choose to purchase a mushroom urn with a sapling atop, allowing both the biodegradable urn and the cremains to fuel the tree’s growth.

Loop Biotech, the Netherlands company which makes the coffins, states they cost just over a thousand dollars per coffin, with biodegradable urns costing about $212 each. At this time, Loop Biotech is capable of shipping across Europe, so prices for American customers will likely be higher due to shipping hurdles.

Body Composting Update – The Soil Sensation That’s Slowly Sweeping the Nation

Back in 2021, the newest addition to the eco-friendly disposition market was body composting. This process strongly resembled natural burial, with a high tech twist. The composting process allows the body to decompose naturally, but instead of doing so underground, this process takes place in a sealed and reusable chamber. By using natural materials such as soil, straw, and wood chips, the body becomes soil once more. Body composting was first legalized in Washington state in May 2020, since then other states have joined the growing list of places which allow city-dwellers to partake in natural disposition options for their bodies.

Earth Funeral Group, Inc. is one of a growing number of companies offering these services and tracking which states have legalized the option. Unfortunately for Texas residents, body composting is still not legal here. Meaning the cost to transport your remains to a state where the process is legal must be factored into the cost, which in 2020 was approximately $5,500.

Final Thoughts

As our knowledge and ingenuity expand, so do our eco-friendly options for the disposition of our remains. And while certain options may not be available to Texas residents at present, hopefully in future all Texans can choose whichever option fits their needs and values. If your estate plan could use an update, or if you’ve never made an estate plan before, our firm can help you ensure your carbon neutral wishes are carried out.

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. We look forward to working with you.