Who has legal custody of someone’s ashes? The next of kin or the one who paid for the ashes?

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Who has legal custody of someone’s ashes? The next of kin or the one who paid for the ashes?

I am the girlfriend of the
deceased. His brother paid for the
creamation, but his legal wife who
he did not live with picked up the
ashes and has them. She also paid
nothing on the creamation. Does his
brother have a legal right to the
ashes?

Asked on June 27, 2019 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Custody of remains is based on kinship or relation, not who paid the money for the cremetion. Since the deceased was still married at the time, his wife, even if they did not live together, was still his wife and would therefore be entitled to the ashes.


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