What to Know About Scattering Ashes

Posted on May 27, 2020 by Bevis Funeral Home under Cremation
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Urn with Ashes

Scattering your loved one’s ashes is a beautiful way to remember them, but make sure you’re obeying proper rules and etiquette.

There are a few Florida and federal laws regarding scattering your loved one’s remains. You can keep them in a crypt, grave, columbarium or in an urn. You may also choose to scatter ashes in a place that was special to them or to your family.

Here’s what you need to know before you plan on scattering your loved one’s ashes.

Florida Statutes

Here’s what the law says (497.607, if you’re curious): Know what you’re going to do with the ashes before your loved one is cremated. You have to declare it before the crematorium will accept the body. The cremains, as they are often called, are not property and there is no regulation that they be divided among survivors.

After 120 days, if the cremains haven’t been claimed, the funeral home or other establishment may dispose of them, either by scattering them at sea or placing them in a licensed cemetery scattering garden or pond, or in a columbarium.

Scattering Ashes On Land

You can scatter ashes on privately held land, with permission. Otherwise, you may be trespassing. You can also scatter ashes on public lands, but first check with local and county regulations. You can’t, however, scatter your ashes at your alma mater if it’s Florida State University, for instance. And that includes Doak Campbell Stadium.

“Unfortunately, the university has a policy against that,” said Elliott Finebloom, assistant athletics director at FSU.

Florida also has thousands of acres of federally held land, such as national forests, parks and preserves. Again, ask permission before scattering ashes. There may be a form to fill out and certain rules to obey, such as scattering ashes out of sight of public use areas, away from waterways and not leaving any kind of marker of the area.

A cemetery may also have scattering gardens or ponds that are maintained just for this purpose. They are generally protected and offer a great alternative to scattering ashes in other areas.

Scattering Ashes In the Air

Technically, federal aviation regulations prohibit dropping anything out of any plane, ever. But, it is not prohibited if “reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury to damage to persons or property.” In other words, drop the ashes but not the urn.

Scattering Ashes In the Sea

It should come as no surprise that scattering ashes at sea is a popular option in Florida. But there are some rules and regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a general permit allowing for burials at sea that are at least three nautical miles from land. There are some other rules: You can’t bury someone in a monument, you can’t scatter the remains with a balloon or rocket, and you can’t have a Viking funeral with a burning boat under the general permit.  You can use an acceptable biodegradable container. The EPA must be notified within 30 days of scattering the ashes.

All of these are great options for remembering your loved one, but they all require some form of planning. Bevis Funeral Home is here to help you pre-plan your funeral, cemetery and cremation services in advance – and it can even be done virtually in the comfort of your home. Call 850-385-2193 for more information.

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