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  • Raemi L. Gilkerson

Determining Your Final Resting Place

This is the second post of the two-part blog series in determining your final resting place. Washington recently passes two laws regarding the options for disposition of remains, which will become effective May 1, 2020. This post will cover the current options and those new options.

Disposition of Remains

Many clients want their Wills to contain direction on the disposition of their remains. While having a Will contain that information is a good idea, in practice it may not be enough. Often times, the family of someone who has just passed away does not know what a Will says and does not know that the Will has specific provisions regarding disposition of remains.

Solution: Talk with your family and let them know your desires. If you have specifics, let your family know what is or is not important to you. If you have done any advanced planning (i.e. already purchased a burial plot or paid in advance for cremation, let your family know).

Options in Washington

Currently, Washington has two options for the disposition of remains, burial or cremation. In 2020, there will be two new options: composting (natural organic reduction) and hydro cremation.

Composting-Natural Organic Reduction

This option will become legal beginning May 1, 2020. There will likely be a limit in 2020 of up to 150 bodies the first year and up to 750 each year thereafter.

This method takes approximately one month and produces soil at the end of the process and uses water, soil, wood chips, etc.

Hydro Cremation-Alkaline Hydrolysis

This option will become legal beginning May 1, 2020. It is currently unclear what the availability will be.

This method takes anywhere from a few hours to a day and produces a substance similar to ash by decomposing a body in an alkaline solution.

Green Burial

This is a form of burial. It is not a form of composting. This distinction has not always been clear to clients. Typically, in this process a compostable casket is used that allows a body and casket to decompose.

Final Resting Place of Remains

It is a misdemeanor in Washington to place remains anywhere other than:


-Private Property with permission of the owner; or

-Public property with permission of government agency.

Washington State Ferries

Washington state ferries allow memorial services, but this must be preplanned, and proper authority must be received prior to the disposition of the remains. The ferry will stop mid route temporarily for spreading of the ashes. The ashes must be in a sealed container.

For more information, you can review their website:

If you have questions regarding your estate planning, I would be happy to connect with you. Feel free to email or call 425-885-6066.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice from Leos & Gilkerson, PLLC or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed lawyer.

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