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Funerals/Ward of the State burial


My mother is considered a ward of the state.  She is now in failing health.  I don't know what to plan for?

Hi Deborah,

I'm only going to be able to give you a couple of ideas here, and then you're going to have to continue asking this question of a number of other folks to help you get the complete set of answers you'll require to make sure you get all your bases covered.

You can start by downloading my Natural Funeral Plan at It's free, and has space for the information you'll need to supply authorities at death (it's convenient to gather it now) as well as a series of questions you'll want to have some idea about with respect to your mother's wishes - burial or cremation? funeral? etc...

You can also go to websites like It has a pretty straightforward guide about the paperwork you need to have taken care of, and links to more resources.

If your mother is in a care facility, I'd start there, asking about the funeral directors that they know about who work with their other clients. Usually a facility won't recommend funeral directors that families have had negative reports about. The facility may have good recommendations for other service providers you'll find useful, as well.

And of course, don't forget talking to whatever State agency your mother's a ward of - in fact, after you go through the suggestions above -- the natural funeral plan (to get an idea of some of the personal elements the agency WON'T be deciding for you but will probably want to know, the paperwork website, and talking to the care facility the FIRST time -- I'd make that State agency your next call, just so you know what types of costs they'll pick up, and what sorts of requirements they have of you.

The internet has made getting many of these tasks done a lot simpler today; hopefully you'll spend minimum time on the bureaucracy and be able to maximize the time you have left with your Mother.

I hope that helps.




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Cynthia Beal


Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.


Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Cemetery Association of Oregon. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and over a decade of running the Natural Burial Company, founded in 2004. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions, and I own two historic cemeteries the feature natural burial, based in Oregon.

ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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