One of the many advantages of estate planning is that you can designate what you want to happen to your body after you’re gone. While that’s not pleasant to think about, it’s easier to contemplate when you’re still relatively young and healthy than in your final days.
Increasingly, people are choosing to be cremated. This gives you more options to choose from when you decide where you want your ashes (“cremains”) to end up. It’s also less expensive than a traditional burial.
If sitting in an urn on a shelf doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of beautiful places throughout Virginia and along the coastline where ashes can be scattered. Virginia has no state laws restricting where cremains can be scattered or stored. Some localities, however, do. Federal laws may also apply. Let’s look at a few popular options.
The Atlantic Ocean
Many Virginians choose to have their ashes scattered in the Atlantic. This can be done anywhere that’s at least three nautical miles from shore (according to federal law). Charter boat companies take family and friends out to scatter ashes if you don’t have your own vessel. They generally also take care of the necessary notification to the Environmental Protection Agency.
If you prefer to have your ashes scattered from a higher elevation, this can be done if you want to use a charter flight company (or if a friend has a small plane.) The main restriction to be aware of is that the urn or other container can’t be dropped into the water – even accidentally – under federal law.
Federal and other public lands
We certainly have our share of beautiful local, state and national parks. Again, it’s important to be aware of any local restrictions on where ashes can be scattered and where the specially designated areas are. If you opt for a national park, make sure scattering ashes is allowed at the point you choose. National parks also require permits.
If you choose to be buried on private property, there are no restrictions as long as it’s your property or you have the owner’s permission. There are also scattering or memorial gardens on church property, at colleges, cemeteries and other locations.
By making these plans and setting aside (or in some cases paying in advance) the money needed as you do your estate planning, you save your family time, stress and cost. You also help them feel confident that they’re giving you the send-off you wanted.