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Question
My ex-fiancée and I had a beautiful 3-week old daughter who passed away in May of 2013.  Since then the baby's mother and I had an ugly break-up and when it came to our daughter, it was mutually assumed that whoever was going to stay in San Diego would keep little Mina Jayden and her tiny little urn.  When I went to the apt to retrieve my belongings (after her turn) I noticed that the urn was gone!  She is supposed to be flying to Guadalajara, MX this upcoming weekend and I was wondering what CA. laws can prevent her from taking my daughter's remains?

Answer
Hi Jonathan,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having difficulty here. I may not be the best person to answer this question, so feel free to try with others. (Also, I'm sorry I didn't get this in time)

It's my understanding that cremated remains are considered 'personal property' and yet no one technically owns them; custody usually falls to next-of-kin and since both you are equally NOK, you both have a claim.

When there's a dispute about the ownership of something it usually has to go through the court - i.e., you have to file a claim, the claim is based on the item's financial value, and then the paperwork gets served to the other party, and it all takes many weeks, costs a lot of money, and may or may not have the result you want.

I wish I had better news for you. The only thing I could think of is to request/plead/entreat that she give you some portion of the remains before she goes - and perhaps you could offer to get some of them placed into a Memory Glass orb or something like that --- http://www.memoryglass.com/ --- I usually recommend these for people as cremated remains are difficult - and awkward - to keep track of for long periods of time.

Good luck!

Cynthia

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Cynthia Beal

Expertise

Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.

Experience

Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Sustainable Cemetery Management Group. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and 9 years running the Natural Burial Company. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions.

Organizations
ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

Publications
American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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