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3 Tips For Pre-Planning A Green Burial

Everyone should have some end-of-life plans in place, and if you want something out of the ordinary, like a green burial, it's even more important to ensure that you have a plan ready to be set into motion before you die. Without some pre-planning on your part, it will be up to your next of kin to decide how to handle your funeral and burial, and if that person isn't aware of what you want, then it may not happen. Take a look at some tips that can help you plan for a natural green burial when the time comes.

Choose A Location

Chances are that the cemetery nearest you isn't set up for a green burial, so you'll have to choose a place where natural burial is allowed. If you own land, or if your family owns a private cemetery, you may be able to opt for a rural burial on privately owned land. If not, however, you'll have to find a green burial cemetery. There are more than 340 green burial cemeteries in North America. At least 41 states have at least one green burial cemetery.

If the rural land or green burial cemetery that you've chosen isn't located in your own state, you'll have to do some research to find out how best to have your body transported when the time comes. In some states, embalming is required if the body is going to be shipped or if the burial is going to be delayed past a certain time, so if you want to avoid embalming, it's a good idea to locate the laws in your state so that you can plan appropriately.

Choose A Burial Container

The next thing that you need to do is choose the container that you would like to be buried in. Coffins and caskets are both common choices. There is a difference between a coffin and a casket: coffins are typically made in an anthropoid shape with six or eight sides, intended to mimic the shape of a human body. Meanwhile, caskets are rectangular in shape. It's important to know the difference so that you can choose the one that you want. Biodegradable versions of both are available.

Biodegradable coffins or caskets are typically made from materials like cardboard,  bamboo, wood, wicker, or recycled paper. You can have a biodegradable casket or coffin lined with cotton, dried leaves or flowers, silk, or flax. Some people opt for no coffin or casket at all, and are instead buried in a shroud made from biodegradable material similar to the materials used to line a coffin or casket.

Make Your Wishes Known

It's not enough to simply decide on where and how you want to be buried – you have to make your wishes known to the people who will handle your affairs after you die. It's a good idea to write down your plans for your burial, and include them in your living will, living trust, or durable power of attorney. You can also pre-pay ahead of time by putting money into a Totten Trust. A Totten Trust is a bank account, funded by you, that's payable to a beneficiary of your choosing after you die. It's a way to make funds available for your funeral without having to wait for your estate to go through probate.

In addition to putting your wishes in writing, you should spend time talking to your family and friends about your wish for a green burial. It's important to be sure that the person who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes is on board with the plan while you still have time to designate someone else for the job if necessary.

Thinking about what you want done for your remains after death may feel uncomfortable, but it's an important part of planning for your final days, just like making a will or signing a DNR. Taking the time to make a plan now will ensure that you get the burial that you want.