When planning for your own funeral, you can direct what should happen to your remains. In doing so, do not ask your friends and family to do something with them that might be illegal.
More and more elderly people are requesting that they not be buried in a cemetery in the traditional way. In part this is because of expenses, but it also reflects a general trend in society to want to be remembered in a unique way or to want your remains to be in a place that has a special meaning to you.
While it is a person’s right to request that his or her remains be handled in a specific way, caution should be used to make sure what you want is legally allowed. A recent example of something that cannot be done happened during a performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
During an intermission a man stood up and spread his friend’s ashes in the orchestra pit. The musicians were not in the pit at the time. However, the ashes caused enough alarm that the performance was cancelled as was another performance scheduled for later in the day.
FOX News reported this story in “Man scattering friend’s ashes halts Metropolitan Opera performance.”
This is obviously an extreme example. Scattering human ashes inside a public building is never a good idea. Other cases are not as obvious.
For example, if the ashes had been scattered on the field at Yankee Stadium, it might not have caused as much alarm. However, that does not mean it is legal to spread ashes on baseball fields. It depends on state laws and the field owner’s policies.
If you would like your remains to be disposed of in a unique way, then talk to your estate planning attorney or an elder law attorney. Ask the attorney for advice about the legality of your wishes.
Reference: FOX News (Oct. 30, 2016) “Man scattering friend’s ashes halts Metropolitan Opera performance.”
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