A recent Toronto Life magazine article, “The New Death Etiquette” examines mourning in the 21st century. The new death etiquette includes multicultural hybrid funerals and intricate grieving rituals. Many funerals now are elaborate functions designed to reflect the individual personality of the deceased person. As stated in the article, there is no such thing as a standard burial these days.
Most of us probably do not like to think about our funeral and final resting place. However, when it comes time to preparing a Will, many individuals will ask their lawyer to include burial instructions, such as a wish for cremation or to be buried in a particular cemetery. It may come as a surprise to learn that in Ontario, such instructions are not binding on the estate trustee. It is the estate trustee who has the right and obligation to bury a deceased person, even in the face of objections from family members. The authority for this comes from an English case decided over 100 years ago, Williams v. Williams (1882), 20 Ch. D. 659, where it was held that there is no property in a dead body, and so a person cannot by will dispose of their own dead body. An estate trustee, however, has the right to custody and possession of a deceased’s body until it is properly buried.
Have a great day!
Bianca La Neve
Environmental consciousness is spreading, and is making its way into the realm of estates.
There is a growing movement towards “natural burial” or “eco-cemeteries”, and away from more traditional practices such as a conventional burial or cremation. Both of these traditional practices are said to have adverse environmental effects that can be avoided through natural burial.
Conventional burial normally involves the use of formaldehyde, a potential carcinogen. Vast amounts of steel, wood and cement are involved in the burial process. Cemeteries are often simply fields of grass, with grave markers, that require watering, mowing, pesticides and herbicides.
As for cremation, the process requires huge amounts of natural gas. Emissions from crematories contain hazardous materials.
In natural burial, the body is prepared without use of chemical preservatives such as embalming fluids, and the body is buried in a biodegradable casket or shroud. The physical layout of the cemetery is distinct in that traditional grave markers are avoided, and the grave markers are designed to blend in with the landscape. Pesticides and herbicides are avoided.
For more information, visit the Natural Burial Co-operative website at http://www.naturalburial.coop/
According to their website, the Natural Burial Co-operative is currently working to establish Canada’s first natural burial preserve.
The movement still appears to be in its infancy; however, interest in the concept of natural burial is growing.
Have a great weekend.