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Dust (or ashes) in the wind

By Suzana Popovic-Montag

Here’s a scenario that’s becoming more common. A family member dies. The deceased had expressed a preference for cremation, and you, as the estate trustee, honour those wishes. The funeral home hands you a rather heavy velvet bag full of ashes and then, well, and then what?

Rest assured, you’re not alone. According to the Cremation Association of North America, more than 68 per cent of Canadians are cremated at death, a number that’s expected to rise to nearly 75 per cent by 2020. And if a friend or relative’s ashes are entrusted to you, you must decide the final resting place for the deceased.

You have more options than you might think. For example, you can:

  • Bury the ashes in a traditional cemetery plot
  • Place them in a structure designed to store ashes (a columbarium)
  • Scatter the ashes – over private land, crown land, or even over lakes and oceans

While there are some restrictions on where you can scatter ashes, the laws are far more liberal than you might think. Here’s an overview of what’s permitted in Ontario.

If you are unsure about whether a location allows for the scattering of ashes, check in advance to make sure.

Travelling with ashes

For many people, the preferred location for the burial or scattering of ashes requires plane travel, and that adds an extra layer of complication.

While some airlines allow for cremated remains to be stored in checked luggage, others only allow these remains in your carry-on baggage. So, check with your airline before you fly. Either way, ashes must be in a container that can be viewed by security scanners. Think plastic or cardboard and not metal. You can find more information here.

Other options

Do you want to be creative? It’s truly amazing what people will do with the ashes of loved ones, from creating vinyl records, to making pencils, to the claim of Keith Richards that he snorted some of his dad’s ashes up his nose. This article has 27 ideas for those who are a bit more creative minded. It may not ultimately be for you, but it makes for entertaining reading nonetheless.

Read More at Hull & Hull LLP Blog

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