Massachusetts Laws for Scattering Ashes

After a cremation, some families decide that scattering ashes in some favorite place in nature is the right way to honor the life of their departed loved one. Cremated remains consist of a few pounds of nontoxic minerals. Thus, the practice of spreading ashes is generally regarded as an eco-friendly and safe choice. It’s just important to comply with local regulations and the rules of common courtesy. People in the Bay State should take a moment to understand Massachusetts laws for scattering ashes.

Laws in Massachusetts for Spreading Ashes

The Massachusetts Court System has a comprehensive guide online that covers all of the current rules for handling remains. The state laws mandate that ashes can be scattered anywhere that it isn’t illegal to do so. This means that the law simply requires people to conform with federal laws or state property laws.

It might be helpful to read a quick overview of the specific rules that govern scattering ashes:

In the water: Federal law permits scattering three miles beyond shore. For lakes, rivers, and streams, you might need to consult with the state agency that governs the waterway. If you plan to leave the ashes in an urn, you should purchase a biodegradable, nontoxic urn that has been made for this use. You don’t need to obtain prior permission, but you should notify the EPA within 30 days of a scattering at sea.

By air: Federal law doesn’t prohibit scattering ashes by air. It only prohibits doing anything that might be harmful to others, and generally scattering ashes by air isn’t considered a harmful practice.

On land: You are free to scatter ashes on your own land. For other people’s private property or state or national parks, you should ask for permission. The decision is up to the landowner. State and national parks are likely to give permission for a scattering ceremony but may have some policies that you should adhere to.

How to Store Ashes in Massachusetts

What if you would rather store than scatter ashes? Certainly, Massachusetts also allows ash storage in any facility meant for that purpose or even in your own home. In addition, you aren’t required to use any specific type of container to store ashes. As mentioned above, you may choose to obtain a nontoxic and biodegradable urn if you plan to bury the ashes or scatter them in the water. If you want to store ashes in a mausoleum or similar facility, you should check with the funeral home to see if they have rules they will ask you to comply with.

Urns to Store Remains Before Storage or Spreading

In any case, you will need a container for the remains. You might use this container to store ashes or leave them in until you can scatter them. Urns can be made out of ceramic, glass, stone, wood, plastic, or even cardboard. Local laws in this state do not govern urns at all. You can purchase urns to display in your home or garden. You can even buy tiny urns that are placed inside of cremation jewelry.

Different materials will be better suited for some uses than others. Once you decide how you plan to scatter or store your loved one’s remains, you can choose an urn. To learn more about cremation and scattering ashes in Massachusetts, contact Boston Cremation today by calling 781.322.0909.

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