Who Has Legal Rights To Cremated Remains? Cremation and and the Law

When a loved one passes away, one of the decisions that the family has to make is what to do with the cremated remains.

If the deceased person chose cremation, the next question is who has the legal rights to the cremated remains, also known as ashes.

This can be a sensitive and complicated issue, especially if there are disagreements or conflicts among the family members. In this article, we will explore some of the factors that determine who has legal rights to cremated remains, and how to avoid or resolve disputes over them.

A woman at a funeral carrying remains of body ashes
woman with funeral urn |PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES|

Who Has The Rights to The Ashes?

According to some sources, no one can own ashes or human cremains because the law considers them the same as the person or a body, and a person cannot be owned.

However, there are laws that regulate who has the right to possess, dispose of, or scatter the ashes. In most states, the right to your ashes goes to the surviving spouse or domestic partner.

If there is no spouse or partner, it goes to the surviving children.

If there are no children, it goes to the parents, siblings, or other relatives in order of kinship.

However, in some areas, the right to possess the ashes is the person in charge of the funeral or the person who signed the contract with the funeral director—often the bill payer.

Can I divide ashes among family members?

Dividing ashes among family members is a possible option for families who want to honor their loved one’s memory in different ways.

However, there are some factors to consider before deciding to do so, such as the wishes of the deceased, the laws in your area, and the preferences of other family members.

The first thing to consider is whether the deceased left any instructions or preferences regarding their cremation and ashes.

an image of cremated remains
Cremation urn| PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES|

 

Who Owns My Mothers Ashes?

How long can you keep ashes at home? The ashes are returned to families by a crematory or funeral home in a temporary container in which you can keep the ashes until you scatter them.

Since cremation ashes are mostly made up of bone, and bones are not degradable, the ashes can last as long as a person wants them to.

 

Can I scatter ashes in my backyard?

Scattering ashes in your backyard is a possible option for honoring your loved one’s memory, but there are some things to consider before doing so, such as the wishes of the deceased, the laws in your area, and the impact on the environment.

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Summary
Rights of cremated remains are the legal and moral rights that apply to the possession, disposal, or scattering of the ashes of a deceased person.

These rights may depend on the wishes of the deceased, the laws in the area, and the preferences of the family members or other authorized persons.

The legal ownership of cremated remains is usually granted to the executor of the will, or the highest-ranking next of kin if there is no will.

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