Tips on Scattering Cremated Remains

The scattering of cremated remains is growing in popularity. Americans now choose more unique and personal ways to commemorate lost family and friends. The ritual of ash scattering allows families to prolong their goodbyes. Some may choose to leave a little ash behind each time they make a trip or perhaps empty an entire urn at one site of great meaning to the individual. Many families and friends are traveling across the globe to fulfill the last wishes or last request of a loved one. 

It's important to be fully prepared before you choose a location to scatter your loved one's cremated remains.  

Prepare to Scatter Cremated Remains

  • First, decide how much or how little of the ashes you will be scattering. Some families prefer to hold a small portion to keep at home, while scattering the remainder of the ashes.
  • Be aware that dumping anything into a body of water may be forbidden by environmental regulations.
  • Check with the laws in your state. California requires a permit to scatter (see more details below).
  • Sometimes the cremated remains/ashes will contain a small metal identification tag inside. Be sure to inspect the ashes and remove any ID tag prior to scattering.
  • Plan to scatter early in the morning or late in the day to avoid large crowds of people.
  • Plan to scatter low to the ground and downwind to avoid the cremated remains from blowing back towards you.

Legal Info for Scattering Cremated Remains in California

California has the toughest laws on scattering requiring citizens to register the location of the scattering. California also licenses registered cremation "scattering agents" to operate scattering businesses.

Criminal offenses relate to scattering ashes are misdemeanors, with a maximum punishment of six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine (which would be approximately doubled by various fees). This is the maximum, usually imposed only if the defendant refuses probation. If the District Attorney has taken the trouble to file a case, the minimum punishment he would probably seek would be probation for several years.
 One offense is:
 1) Scattering human ashes without a permit. (This section reference: California Health and Safety Code Sections 7000 et seq. and 10305 et seq.)

 Please share any tips that may help others scatter a loved one's ashes. Are there unique laws on scattering that are specific to your state others should know about? Please share.