My sisters ex partner has taken half of her ashes without mentioning it to anyone. He got them from the crematorium. I have bought a plot to bury them as my other sisters wanted somewhere to go and remember her. We have since found out he plans to scatter them somewhere. He has had them for 2 months. Do I have any legal rights to get them back? He has refused to return them to us. I am based in the UK


To the best of my knowledge (Under the laws in the U.S.), the nearest of kin (married spouse, children over 18, parents and siblings in this order) have primary right to authorize a body to be cremated and to claim the cremated remains. Although a person during their lifetime may authorize that their body be cremated and their cremated remains to be released to a certain person or persons. Unless he was authorized to receive a portion of her cremated remains by instructions left by your sister or by her legal next of kin, he should not have received them. Again this opinion is based on the existing laws in the U.S.

My best advice would be to consult an attorney on this matter.

I hope this helped,

Erin Phelps


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Erin Phelps


I can answer any questions about funerals,embalming, cremation, green burial, home funerals, burial on your own land, scattering of cremated remains and any other death related questions you may have.


I have worked in the death care industry since 1977, owning my own funeral home since 1990. I worked as an EMT at a funeral home based ambulance service for 6 years gain much experience there. When I opened my funeral home, my goal was to provide honest, straightforward, significant and affordable services to the families who called upon me for my services. Since Sept. 2008, I have served as a member of the Oregon State Mortuary & Cemetery Board, which regulates the operation of mortuarys and cemeteries in Oregon. I have been a regular attendee and speaker at various funeral related seminars over the years and am a frequent contributor to "Mortuary Management" magazine. I was one of the first funeral directors in Oregon to offer "Green" or "Natural" burial services and to offer assistance to families who wish to take care of their own family members at home. I also have vast experience in the repatriation of a deceased to their country of origin.

Oregon Funeral Directors Association, International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association, Cremation Association of America, Funeral Ethics Association Natural End Funeral Services - Charter Member.

Mortuary Management Funeral Monitor Funeral Service Insider

Attended the University of Oregon Associates of Science Degree - Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham, Oregon

Awards and Honors
Top 10 Eye Enucleators in Oregon. Nationally Board Certified Funeral Director/Embalmer Honored in "Funeral Monitor", Aug. 2007 for my business practices.

Past/Present Clients
Since 1990, I have served over 10,000 families, requesting the gamute of services ranging from the simplest to the most elaborate. Servicing christian, jewish, muslim, buddhist, hindu and humanists, along with families from every continent in the world.

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