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A legal battle to have a sons ashes divided: are the ashes property?


Who owns cremated remains: case comes to court in the US

One of the common questions that we are asked is: who owns ashes? Looking at various statutes, we are of the opinion it that no one can, in the same way as you can’t ‘own’ a person or a body. So we are watching with interest a case that has actually come to court in America that is focusing on just this subject.

As with all these stories, it is a sad, a couple are divorced and lost their son in an accident. They have different wishes for what to do with his remains: his mother wishes them to stay in the locality where they live, whereas his father wants them to be interred in the family plot in a different State.

In the video clip you get to see the lawyer arguing a very interesting point. I am paraphrasing a little but… the lawyer makes the point that if the couple had chosen burial you wouldn’t say that they could own the body, so why would this change just because they have opted for a different form of funeral? Whereas the other side makes the point: any ashes should be considered property because they’re considered “owned” by whoever has possession of them. Therefore, they can be divided.

We will be following the case and will report on the outcome. And whilst American courts obviously cannot set precedent in other countries, it is, I believe the case, that a lawyer will look beyond there national boundaries in certain circumstances as the legal systems in many English speaking countries is not radically different from other British style legal systems and the arguments invoked are like to be the same.

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