Estate planning tends to center on finances and assets, but it also encapsulates everything that happens to your body when you have died. Whether you are expecting a burial, requesting cremation or insisting to donate your body to science, it is important to communicate with your family—and be clear in your will.
Deciding these details early on helps keep you and your loved ones on the same page. This may make the post-death process quicker and easier so that the grieving process does not involve any unexpected stresses.
The University of Tennessee details the advantages of body donation in the FAQ of their Anatomical Bequest Program. Not only can donating your body to science assist in medical practice, it comes with the added benefits of easier funeral arrangements—as it avoids the need for a plot and burial arrangements. Now as per the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the university could not pay your expenses. You still pay the costs of any transport or memorial services through a funeral home—the donation may just decrease those expenses. But once donated, the university utilizes your body for medical science for around 18-24 months where they cremate and return your ashes to your family if they wish.
Reasons you cannot donate
Tennessee’s strictures of body donation insist on whole body donation. If you are an organ donor or your body goes through an autopsy after death, your body is invalid for this donation. Both forms of donation can do their own sort of good, but one precludes the other. Which is why it is important to be clear in your decisions—before your loved ones must make them for you.