Scattering Ashes

Many Questions about Where, When and How to Scatter Ashes of a Loved One?

Though laws regarding the scattering of ashes are rarely enforced, some states do have them. Texas is but one example. In this article we will take a brief look rules, regulations and traditions regarding scattering. We will focus some of our attention on what Texas formally requires of those charged with scattering the ashes of a deceased. But readers should be cautioned that other states’ and municipalities’ rules vary, though, for the most part, they are similar to Texas. For more information on your specific location we recommend checking with a certified funeral director in your area.

Who can Scatter Ashes?

First of all in order to scatter ashes in Texas one has to be appointed by the deceased. Crematories are legally obligated to release the ashes in appropriate container to the authorized recipient that is named in a written statement by the deceased. So if an individual in Texas wants to be cremated, he must leave it in writing and address who is responsible for his remains. He should also specifically if he desires to be scattered in a specific location, depending on the location private or public.

What if there is no Designated Party to Receive the Ashes?

If there is no designated responsible party on paper and no family members come forward in the 120 days after the body has been cremated, the funeral home/crematory can dispose of them in a manner accepted by the industry.

Where can Remains be Scattered?

Sec. 716.304 of the Texas law related to cremation says the following: “A person may scatter cremated remains over uninhabited public land, over a public waterway or sea, or on the private property of a consenting owner. Unless the container is biodegradable, the cremated remains must be removed from the container before being scattered.”

For example, if Aunt Jane loved country dancing and wanted to be scattered at the local country night club. Aunt Jane’s appointed recipient will have to obtain permission from the property owner. However, it would depend on the club owner if he wanted you to do it during business hours.

What if Aunt Jane wanted to be scattered in the Grand Canyon? Now we are talking a National Park. Specifically, the Grand Canyon does not charge an individual to scatter ashes. However there is a permit that has to be filed and issued by the government for all National Parks. Each park has its own set of rules to follow when scattering ashes. There is also scattering ashes via airplane over the Grand Canyon, but this is done by private companies and involves another expense.

The highest form of punishment for scattering ashes unlawfully is in the state of California where it is considered a misdemeanor, up to a thousand dollar fine and six months in jail. However, there in no Texas laws on scattering ashes except that you obtain permission if it is on private property.

Can Anybody be Present when Ashes are Scattered?

Yes. We are unaware of any regulations on this aspect of scattering ashes. There are no health concerns on the public after a body has been properly cremated. Laws are made so that funeral/crematory companies to do the cremation properly, and that leaves cremation ashes entirely safe to be around. Cremation ashes are usually stored in an cremation urn for scattering.

Are there Any Interesting Anecdotes about Sattering Ashes?

There is a story about a cancer patient who set up his own cremation and said he wanted his ashes thrown at the mall in the city he was in. His reason was because he had four daughters in the area and he said his daughters would visit him frequently at the mall. So one windy night, his ashes were thrown at their favorite mall entrance with the wind, not against it. The results was predictable. In another case, a woman crawled to the top of a mountain cliff and, when she finally got ready to scatter her mother’s ashes, she did not take into consideration what direction the wind was blown and the gray cloud ashes went into her face and hair.

What other Facts are Important for me to know about Scattering Ashes?

A body can not be cremated until after twenty-four to forty-eight hours of death. After the process, the tiny bony fragments are placed in an appropriate container with a metal tag identifying the remains, usually an urn for ashes. An urn is a container that is made of wood, pottery, or metal. It is usually a vase looking container with a top. The bone fragments or “ashes” usually weigh anywhere three to five pounds. Families keep them in this container until they can go scatter the ashes on special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Some families even keep that last portion of the remaining ashes in a keepsake, such as heart pendent.

Cremation has become more popular than burial in the past several years and there are just a few things to consider when choosing this route. Once again, each state has their own laws, California being the toughest on rules and punishment on scattering ashes versus Texas. The keepsake or urn you choose would probably be the most difficult decision a family makes due to the many options available.