What to Know When Scattering Ashes in Ohio

People are increasingly choosing cremation over traditional burial. This trend is true across the country. According to Slate.com, only about four percent of people who passed away 50 years ago were cremated. Today, that figure is at nearly 50 percent. The source noted several reasons for this shift, including the lower price tag for cremation vs. average burial costs, dispersed families making visiting grave sites more difficult, and environmental friendliness.

In some states, particularly in the South and Midwest, the number of people cremated has doubled in just the past 15 years. In 2000, for example, 19 percent of Ohio residents chose to be cremated. By 2013, that percentage had risen to 41 percent. One thing to note when discussing the rate of cremations in different states is that they each have their own laws about the dispersal of ashes. Here are the answers to some potential questions you might have if you are looking to cremate a loved one in Ohio.

Do I need to buy a casket?

There is no law in Ohio requiring a casket for cremation, wrote Shae Irving, J.D. for Nolo, a Berkeley, California-based publisher of legal guides. Rather, federal guidelines stipulate that the director of the crematory must tell you of your right to use an alternative container and to provide one for you. This vessel can be made of unfinished wood, pressed wood, or cardboard. Many people choose to purchase cremation urns which are a more permanent way of storing and displaying the remains of a departed loved one.

How long do I have to pick up the ashes?

Ohio law requires that the crematory holds on to the ashes for 30 days following the completion of the process. If they are not retrieved after that point, and no arrangements have been made, the operator of the crematory may release or deliver them to the person authorized to receive them on the intake form. If this person is not listed or is unavailable, they are given to the person who authorized the cremation.

If this person is not available, or has not been specified, and no arrangements have been made 60 days after the completion of the cremation, the operator is allowed to dispose of the ashes in a grave, crypt or niche.

Many cemeteries have designated areas for scattering ashes.

Is spreading ashes legal?

Yes. Scattering ashes is legal in Ohio, according to the state's civil code, which reads: "Division (D)(1) of this section does not prohibit any of the following: (a) The scattering of cremated remains at sea or by air or in a dedicated area at a cemetery used exclusively for the scattering on the ground of the cremated remains of dead human bodies or body parts."

Is there a distinction between spreading on private and public land?

While scattering ashes is legal, there may be some stipulations regarding where this can be done, explained Irving. Some cemeteries provide particular land dedicated to this process. You are also allowed to spread the remains on your own private property. If you wish to use the private property of another person, it is advisable to receive written permission before proceeding.

When using public lands for spreading ashes, check with the local ordinances and zoning rules before proceeding, as they may be particular to the area. On federal land, you need to obtain permission before scattering, and should in any event conduct ceremonies away from trails, roads, and facilities.

Can I scatter the ashes on water?

One thing to note when pursuing this option is that U.S. Code 40CFR229.1 requires that you be at least three miles off of the coast and report the details to the local EPA office. However, you do not need a special permit to spread cremation ashes over the water in Ohio, which is why Lake Erie is a popular choice for doing so.

When choosing an alternative to burial, the most important considerations are the wishes of the deceased and the needs of your family. If you have any questions at all about carrying these out in a legal, affordable way, please contact us today.

The Neptune Society is the nation's oldest and largest provider of affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan cremation services in advance, we are always available to assist you and your family.

Call 1-800-NEPTUNE (800-637-8863) today or contact us online to learn more.

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