As cremation grows in popularity, Neptune Society is often asked about the legality of scattering a loved one’s ashes. Scattering has become an increasingly popular and meaningful way to remember a loved one, and provides each family a unique way to celebrate their loved one in a place that was special to them during their life, or perhaps offers a chance to visit a place their loved one desired to go, but was never able to see while they were alive.
According to Lori Adamson, Service Manager of Neptune Society of San Antonio, “Some people find comfort in being scattered in a place that they loved in life. The burden of wondering what will happen to their urn over time is lifted from their mind. Others may also find it healing to know their ashes will not be a constant reminder to their family that they have passed.”
However, Neptune Society advises you to proceed with caution when planning to scatter the ashes of your loved one. Each state has its own laws on scattering, and in the case of scattering ashes over water, Federal law may take precedence over state law. So as part of your planning, check local and state laws, and familiarize yourself with any Federal laws that may apply to an over-water scattering.
In most states, ashes can be scattered over land on private property with the permission of the owner, or on public lands with permission of the governing agency. For example, Texas law states that 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. Texas law also states that unless the container is biodegradable, the cremated remains must be removed from the container before being scattered.
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