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Estates & Wills & Trusts

How green is your estate plan?

By Suzana Popovic-Montag

Climate change remains a leading topic of concern – and most of us have at least some awareness of our environmental footprint. Many of us have undertaken actions to reduce it, from energy-efficient light bulbs to low flush toilets, to hybrid cars.

It’s not a stretch to take green concerns beyond our own lifetimes to our estate plans because there are actions we can take today in planning that can make an environmental difference after we’re gone.

Here are three actions to consider if “going green” is a meaningful direction for you.

Keep your funeral small

Balancing interests is important, and your funeral or memorial service should reflect your wishes and also the needs of the friends and family you leave behind. But from a green perspective, smaller is better. It means fewer resources used, and less travel taken. It’s a small difference in the scheme of things, but by focusing less on the “show” and more on meeting the grieving needs of those closest to you, a small funeral can be an important symbolic gesture of “less is more.”

Donate to make a difference
One obvious way of supporting green initiatives through your estate plan is by donating to a charity whose mission relates to environmental concerns or sustainability.

A charitable gift at death is more than just a show of generosity and a nice tax break. It provides a powerful example to others of what you value – and can encourage your friends and loved ones to support the same cause or another one like it.

For that reason, a gift to a charity made through your will should take some thought. There are thousands of organizations to choose from, with varying levels of administrative efficiency and expertise in putting donated money to good use. So, do your homework to ensure that your money – and the money of others who may donate in your name – will be effectively used to further the cause you’re close to.

Use your body for good
If you’re looking for the “leading edge” of alternative, here’s a concept worth considering: turn your body (after death) into a tree by using a biodegradable burial pod. You can read all about the concept here.

If that idea is a little too out there, the Green Burial Council certifies funeral homes, cemeteries, and product providers in North America on green standards relating to burials. By using products and service providers that are certified green, you can help ensure that your passing is a greener one.

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