Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cremation: Serious & Entertaining – “Wildcat Scattering”

My general and limited observation is that more and more people are selecting cremation for their end-of-life plans. As one might imagine, estate planning attorneys hear some interesting requests regarding cremation and the ultimate disposal of one’s ashes. Our office is no exception. Most requests are dignified and tasteful. Some are also very entertaining.

On a serious note: Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 451.655) provide that a person may order his or her own cremation and instructions for disposition by signing an order and having it signed by two additional witnesses. One can avoid delay by providing this order directly to a funeral home that is to provide the mortuary services. Our office incorporates this statutory requirement directly into the Last Will, but we have also provided, on occasion, a separate order for the funeral home in coordination with the statute referenced above.

In an effort to be tastefully entertaining, and divert my attention from the 2010 Federal estate tax repeal which recently is a frequent topic on our blog, I thought I would share some cremation myth and lore. Several years ago I remember reading on a blog that Disneyland was having frequent issue with people disposing of cremated loved ones on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. (Keep your hands inside the ride at all times). Clients have instructed that we write up many specific instructions regarding scattering: mountain tops; beaches; rainforests; backyards; oceans; you name it, we have probably written it up in a Will. One particular client that I can recall instructed that his ashes be inserted into a number of helium balloons and that the balloons should be released into the wind. We usually make it clear that public scattering might technically be illegal and that permission should be obtained.

Just this week I read a Wall Street Journal article and discovered that the scattering of ashes without pre-permission has a name. It is known in the funeral industry as a “wildcat scattering.” I found the above article interesting and it had some good stories regarding some verified wildcat scatterings. Feel free to comment and share any stories or wishes you might have reagrding the distribution of your cremains.

-Attorney Jason Walker

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