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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > New York Will Allow Human Composting As A Legal Means Of Disposition Of Remains

New York Will Allow Human Composting As A Legal Means Of Disposition Of Remains


Estate planning lawyers always say that you should write a will because you can’t take your property with you when you die, but do you still need to write a will if you don’t own any property?  What if you own property but you don’t have any opinions about who inherits it when you die?  Yes, you do need a will, if only to indicate what should happen to the other thing that you cannot take with you when you die, namely your body.  Your will should state your instructions about the final disposition of your remains.  If you want your body to be buried, then indicate where.  If you want your body to be cremated, then indicate where your ashes should be entombed or scattered or who should have possession of them.  A Bronx estate planning lawyer can help you state your wishes in your will about burial, cremation, or an alternative means of disposition of remains.

What Is Human Composting?

In 2022, New York became the sixth state to legal composting of human remains, following Washington, New York, Vermont, California, and Oregon.  In the process of human composting, the body is placed in a container along with compostable vegetable scraps and microbes that quickly turn organic material into soil.  About a month later, the container is reopened, but all that remains inside is fertile soil, which is then transferred to the person or location indicated in the decedent’s will.

Some people choose human composting because it is more environmentally sustainable than burial and cremation as they are usually practiced today.  A buried body eventually turns into soil, but modern coffins and embalming materials make it so that the process takes many years.  Modern cremation methods use fossil fuels and contribute to air pollution.  Another environmentally sustainable method of disposition of remains is alkaline hydrolysis, also known as flameless cremation, which is available in several states.

Why It Is Important to Specify Your Wishes About Disposition of Remains in Your Will

As painful as inheritance disputes can be, probate disputes over disposition of a family member’s remains can be even more painful.  Imagine if, after your body was cremated, some of your relatives spent the rest of their lives thinking you wanted to be buried and blaming other family members for the fact that this did not happen.  Probate courts have even had to rule on disputes over disposition of remains, such as the case of a woman who divided her time between New York and Florida; she indicated in her will that she wanted her body buried in a Jewish cemetery, but she did not indicate which one.  She was buried in Florida, but some of her relatives petitioned the court to move her remains to New York.  The court refused to move the body, since, whenever possible, the courts avoid authorizing the disinterment of remains after they have been buried.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can help you write clear instructions in your will about the final disposition of your remains.  Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.




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