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Are cremated human remains considered personal property of an estate?

An interesting question was asked about cremation laws and personal property:

"I was wondering if you could tell us if cremated human remains would be considered personal property of an estate?"

This very question came up about the cremation ashes of Minnesota's baseball Hall-of-Famer, Kirby Puckett. Kirby Puckett was cremated after his death in 2006, and his will did not specify who should receive his ashes. Therefore, there was a major dispute about whether the ashes should go to Kirby's two children, or if they should be divided between his children and his fiancée. After many months of litigation, the issue was resolved through a court ruling, and his children received the ashes.

Another more recent, case was a case where a divorcing couple was disputing whether their son's cremation ashes were "property" and, therefore, whether the ashes could be divided. The Florida state appeals court determined that the ashes were not "property" and, therefore, could not be divided.

So - bottom line - there are no state cremations laws regarding cremation ashes. Minnesota cremation laws specify that once the cremation ashes are handed over, that is the "final disposition", and there are no more state cremation laws regarding who controls the cremated ashes.

The moral of this story: specify in a will exactly what you would like done with you cremation ashes. If you don't, you could cause your inheritors major personal tribulations.

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