Who has the rights to my father’s ashes if there was no Will?

UPDATED: Nov 1, 2011

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Who has the rights to my father’s ashes if there was no Will?

My father did not have a Will. He was married to my stepmom. I do not want his ashes spread over the ocean and she is insisting that this happen. My brother and I are the only children and we both agree on this.

Asked on November 1, 2011 under Estate Planning, Colorado


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the ensuing problems.  May I ask: did your Father have any wishes about what you were to do with his ashes?  Did he state that he wanted the cast over the ocean?  Maybe not to you but to your step mother? His wishes will govern.  Unless you can prove that his wishes were otherwise I think that your step mom has the legal right here, especially if she paid for the funeral.  Losing your parent is one of the hardest stumbles we take in life's journey. It is understandable that you wish to be able to have something in death of your Father.  The ashes, though, are not going to give you anything you do not already have that he gave you while he was alive and that you will carry with you your entire life.  They will not give you that connection or sense of grounding.  It already exists.  Good luck. 

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