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Estate planning issues: Body donation

Many of the scientific advances in medicine have come from research. Some of that research has been done on deceased individuals, including some Delaware residents, who donated their bodies to science. Many people are listed as organ donors on their driver's licenses, but not as many people may know that you can donate your entire body to science as part of your estate planning.

Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, you may donate your body (with organs intact) to a private organization or a medical school. The bodies are to be used for research such as the study of diseases, scientific advancement or training of medical doctors. It is advisable to make such a donation in advance of your death. Most organizations that accept donations such as this have forms that you may fill out.

Upon your death, your family or the executor of your estate notifies the organization. While payment for a cadaver is prohibited, the medical school or company may pay for the transport of your body to the appropriate facility. When the organization is done with your body, it will more than likely pay to have it cremated. The ashes will then be sent to your family if they would like to have them.

Obviously, you may want to discuss donating your body with your family and provide the appropriate person with the information necessary to facilitate the donation. The documentation could be kept with the remainder of your estate planning documents. In fact, a Delaware estate planning attorney may be able to assist you with completing this process to ensure that your request and the facility you choose comply with the requirements of the UAGA so that the transfer goes as smoothly as possible when the time comes.

Source: FindLaw, "Donate Your Body to Science", Accessed on July 15, 2017

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