Here’s what you can and can’t do with your body after death

There are a few things to take into account.

If you’re planning an elaborate funeral service, maybe cool off for just a second to see whether your wishes are actually legal in Australia.

While most people choose either burial or cremation, there are a few out there who might be looking forward to a massive funeral pyre at home, or burial at sea. These options are available, as long as you follow the rules. If you don’t, you could be sticking your loved ones with a hefty fine while they’re dealing with their recent loss.  

Laws may vary depending on your local and state government, but Australian Museum has a few helpful tips.

For example, if you want to be buried on your own property rather than a cemetery, “the land must be greater than five hectares in area”. You’ll have to run this by Council for approval and also find a funeral director or cemetery operator willing to help you out with the difficult parts. Some states or territories may also require proof of “general cultural association between the deceased and the proposed burial site”, according to an ABC News article.

When it comes to cremation, you could technically have a funeral pyre built at home “if it complied with Environmental Protection Agency and Local Government regulations on burning off”.

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According ABC News, however, anyone attempting a funeral pyre in the Northern Territory could “face up to three years in prison” for fulfilling your wishes, so try to be open-minded if you did desperately want a funeral pyre. And whether you’re using a funeral pyre or something more standard, a pacemaker must be removed beforehand to prevent it from exploding in extreme heat.

Ashes can generally be scattered at your own discretion, but you’ll have to get permission for certain public places and some enclosed waterways.  

There are fewer than five sea burials each year in Australia, and the easiest way for this to occur is after cremation. Otherwise, you’ll have to abide by the Sea Dumping Act, lodge the right forms, pay any necessary fees (almost $1,700 according to the Act) and ensure that the depth of the water is greater than 1,000 metres.  

Of course, a lot of the finer details might be left up to your family after your death, but if you’ve been harbouring dreams of being farewelled in a certain way, it’s best to be prepared.

Do you have any specific wishes for your funeral?