Login | January 22, 2018

You can take it with you: Extravagance can extend even beyond death

KEITH ARNOLD
Special to the Legal News

Published: January 2, 2018

Take a walk through any grand, urban cemetery that's been in around long enough to have buried Gilded-Age millionaires and note the elaborate granite and marble monuments meant to commemorate the icons of society of an era.

Obelisks and angelic figures reach high toward the heavens and massive temple-like family mausoleums break up a landscape otherwise peppered with examples of more modest memorials.

Though memorial makers have cornered the market for what seems like millennia, today's super rich (and the not-so super rich) are opting for less traditional final resting places.

Indeed, some are not resting at all.

One's remains now can be integrated into a structure that will become a part of living marine reef or launched into space to mimic a shooting star, dazzling the night sky.

Perhaps the most extravagant example of storing the body for the immediate hereafter is cryonics, the process of freezing the body or just the brain so that it may be resurrected one day.

The "California Process," which suspends an entire frozen body and employs the favorable results of the most recent studies is the most technologically sophisticated suspension available anywhere, according to the non-profit American Cryonics Society.

The minimum funding level for such post-mortem care begins at $155,000.

Additionally, the society requires those who wish to utilize the services to become members. The society's Jack Frost plan requires only a $28 enrollment fee. The plan's marketing promises: "Be nimble, be quick, be frozen. $28 may buy you 1,000 years!"

If a new enrollee dies within six months of signing up, he is eligible to have his body frozen provided he has met provisions giving the society legal and financial authorization to freeze his body.

British tabloid, The Sun, reported recently that the cost associated with cryonics is expected to drop rapidly over the next few years.

According to the founder of the United Kingdom's first stem cell bank the price of cryonic technology is falling by half every 18 months.

Mark Hall, owner of Stem Protect told the newspaper that if current trends continue, having one's body frozen and reawakened in 250 years could cost less than being buried in a traditional ceremony.

"We're accustomed to making jokes about freezing heads when we die, and of course everyone knows Walt Disney did it - often that's their only point of reference," he told The Sun. "But soon we could see this practice becoming commonplace because advances in technology have made it much more affordable.

"And of course, while we're not at the point yet where we can bring someone back to life from this procedure, we believe it's just around the corner."

The American Cryonics Society lists as one of its reasons prospective members should join is that the society operates on the premise of "Freeze. Wait. Reanimate."

The group is neither a utopian nor does it have a political agenda to transform current political or social structure. "That is far too ambitious an undertaking; and besides, we don't all agree on what political and social changes are desirable," the society's website read. "We are a cryonics society. Period.

"Our program is simple: Freeze-wait-reanimate. We support cryonics research, education, and information dissemination. That is what ACS is about."

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