Last Updated on November 9, 2022 by Tresi Weeks
Saying goodbye to a loved one is heartbreaking. Making final arrangements can be overwhelming, and knowing what you are allowed to do to fulfill your loved one’s wishes is important, but it can also be confusing. Careful consideration of how and where to scatter ashes should form part of a family’s or individual’s estate planning preparations. If the person you lost has stipulated in their will that they wanted to be cremated and have their ashes spread, you should know where you can scatter their ashes to make sure that putting your loved one to rest is done appropriately. Here is what you should consider before scattering a loved one’s ashes.
Where Do You Want to Scatter the Ashes?
The place you choose to spread your loved one’s ashes is very important. The rules for spreading someone’s ashes are different depending on the type of location.
Is the Area Private or Public Property?
The biggest question about the location is whether the property is public or private. If the location is public, you may be able to scatter your loved one’s ashes freely so long as you do not spread their remains in a place where others would use the space. For example, do not scatter your family member’s ashes in the sandbox at the park. Always be considerate of others in public places.
Also make sure you have the appropriate permission. During the 2022 NHL Playoffs, a hockey fan who lost his best friend, another big fan of the sport, spread some of his friend’s ashes on the ice rink. He quickly learned that he could not pay tribute to his friend that way after being banned from attending games for the rest of the season. If you get the property owner’s permission, you can scatter the ashes on their property. However, it is unlikely that you will get your favorite amusement park or stadium’s permission to spread your loved one’s ashes.
Note that if you are allowed to spread ashes on a piece of private property, the specific location may have certain requirements you must follow.
Scattering Ashes at the Beach
You will need permission to spread your loved one’s ashes on the beach. Many states do not allow you to spread ashes along the shoreline, but in states like California, you can scatter ashes 500 yards or more from shore.
Scattering Ashes at Sea
It may have been your loved one’s last wish to have their ashes scattered at sea. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates how surviving loved ones can scatter the ashes of the person they lost. Usually, the EPA requires that anything you put into the ocean decomposes easily. So, flowers are OK, but you probably can’t place the urn into the sea.
Knowing what’s allowed as you lay your loved one to rest will make a difficult situation a little easier. Any way that you choose to honor your loved one is valuable. Spreading their ashes will help you heal and keep their memory alive. If you are unsure about what to consider before scattering a loved one’s ashes, you can always talk to an estate planning lawyer, who will be able to advise you on the various legal aspects involved.