What to do if my mother died almost 9 years ago and was cremated but she never designated how to disperse her ashes?

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2014

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What to do if my mother died almost 9 years ago and was cremated but she never designated how to disperse her ashes?

My stepfather mailed my mother’s ashes to his son without letting his son know they were coming. The son’s wife was uncomfortable with having the ashes in their house so they gave the ashes to his sister. The sister called me and asked if I would like to keep my mother’s ashes; I said yes. I have had custody for over 8 years and would like to make a final disposition. My stepfather and I have a contentious relationship and I have not spoken to him in over 6 years and would like to keep it that way. Can I legally disperse the ashes now? He was designated executor but gave the duty to me.

Asked on January 14, 2014 under Estate Planning, Colorado


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your stepfather gave the duty to you and then proceeded to give up the possession and ownership of the ashes, then those ashes are all yours to disperse as you please. This is not a situation that would cause any harm to your stepfather or anyone else because he has knowingly given up his rights to the ashes. At this point, since it has been so long since your mother's death, any possible statutes of limitation probably have already lapsed.

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