Where can you have your ashes scattered in California?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Estate Planning

One of many things you’ll need to think about as you create your estate plan is what you want to happen to your remains. You can make any necessary arrangements, codify your wishes in as much detail as you like and arrange to cover the costs.

If you wish your ashes to be kept in a specific spot, like your college alma mater, you may need to make those arrangements and pay for it in advance. If there’s a family plot somewhere, you may already have a spot reserved for you.

Like many Californians, you may want to have your ashes (“cremains”) scattered off your favorite beach or another beloved vacation spot. Our state certainly has no end of beautiful places. However, it’s crucial to make sure that it’s legal to scatter your ashes in your intended final resting place. You may even choose to have your ashes scattered in multiple spots that are meaningful to you.

Once you narrow down your choices, you’ll need to do a little due diligence and find out what the rules and costs (if any) are. Let’s look at just a few popular selections.

The Pacific Ocean

Ashes must be scattered at least three nautical miles from land. Numerous businesses have charter boats to take family and friends out to scatter ashes. If you prefer to have them scattered from an airplane, that’s allowed as well. There are businesses that handle this.

Federal and other public lands

National parks and other public lands (for example, in the desert and mountains) typically allow remains to be scattered in selected spots, with written permission. You may need to obtain a permit as well.

Private land

If you’d rather stay close to home, California law allows people to have their ashes scattered on their own private property. You can have them scattered on any private property if you have the owner’s written permission.

While this is never something anyone enjoys thinking about, once you decide where you want your final resting place(s) to be, make the necessary arrangements and payments and codify them in your estate plan, you don’t have to think about it again. You also have the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones have one less thing to worry about.



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