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When someone passes away, many families choose to have their loved one cremated, after which they will either take the ashes home or have them scattered or buried. But what happens when there’s a dispute over what to do with the ashes? Who has the right to choose what happens to them?

At Bay Cremation Care, we know that uncertainty over what to do with ashes can be distressing, particularly at such a sad time. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to rights after cremation in New Zealand so that you can avoid this situation. Whether you’re interested in finding out more so that you can plan for the future, or you’re unsure about what’s going to happen with a family member’s ashes, here’s what you need to know about rights following cremation service

Who owns the ashes after a cremation? 

In New Zealand, no one ‘owns’ ashes. This is because bodies are not legally considered property, which means nobody has a legal right to ownership over the deceased. This leads to the question of what happens when there’s a dispute over what to do with the ashes.

Who decides what happens to ashes?

When someone dies, the person who normally oversees what happens to their body is the executor of their will. While the executor does not own the body, they are responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes. This means ensuring that the deceased is either cremated or buried (depending on what they stated in their will). The executor should also oversee what happens to the ashes after the funeral service and cremation. For example, people can use their will to state that they’d like their ashes to be scattered in a specific place.

How to avoid confusion over what happens to your ashes

If you’re concerned that your family might have different ideas about what to do with your ashes after you pass away, the best thing you can do is make a will that clearly states your wishes, then choose an executor you can trust to carry them out. Your will should include instructions for your funeral service, as well as whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated.

As a funeral home in Tauranga, Bay Cremation Care provide affordable cremation and funeral services. If you need to arrange a funeral or cremation, get in touch with us and find out more about how we can help.