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Final expenses, water-based ‘cremation’ subjects of summer research

Aug 12, 2021
5 min Read
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Among the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts is an enhanced awareness among Americans of the nearness of death, a circumstance that has inspired a Creighton professor to write two articles for professional publication.

Victoria Haneman, JD, LLM, the Frank J. Kellegher Professor of Trusts & Estates at Creighton School of Law, is spending her summer researching the use of tax incentives to encourage saving for final expenses, and also the phenomenon of “aquamation,” which is a liquid form of cremation that is already legal in 20 states and is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional incineration-based cremation.

“Although Americans generally like to erase aging and ignore death, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced contemplation of these societally taboo topics,” Haneman says. “For more than 14 months, the notion of shuffling off this mortal coil was continuously present with the daily announcement of lives lost. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, the pandemic has sparked consumer interest in ‘pre-need’ death care planning as opposed to ‘at-need’ death care planning.”

This new interest, she says, has created unique opportunities for disruption and change in an industry that is anticipated to exceed revenues of $68 billion by 2023. Haneman said the need to prepare for death expense is the subject of her article, Prepaid Death.

“The cost of living does not conclude with the act of death, but few people plan for funerary expenses for the cremation, funeral, burial, and/or memorial that follows in the wake of death,” she says.

The article Human Aquamation has already been accepted for publication in the law journal of the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a national organization of more than 2,400 lawyers and law professors.