You are here:

Funerals/Do I have the right to my sons ashes


QUESTION: My son was cremated this past January 2015. I paid and signed  for the cost of the funeral and cremation services. The funeral home released my son ashes to his widow (next of kin). His widow is on a new relationship and left the ashes at his mothers house (I live in Tx and he died in Ohio) I want to know if I can have them and if so what do or what paper work do I need to take possesion of my son ashes. I know for a fact that his mother will not allow me to have them without a fight even thought I raised my son, when he was a 2 yrs old I was awarded full custody so I raised him, she was not part of his life until he was on his late 20's.

Please advise and thank you for taking the time to read my question.

Steven Everhart

ANSWER: Steven

To the best of my knowledge (And I believe this holds true in all 50 States) the legal spouse of the deceased person has the legal right to direct and control the disposition of their spouses body. In this case your son's wife had the primary right to authorize the cremation of his body and who should have possession of his cremated remains.

So my best advise would be for you contact your Son's widow and ask her if you can take possession of his cremated remains. If she does allow you to have them I would suggest that you get her permission in writing to prove that this is her wish.

I hope this helps,

Erin Phelps

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


first thank you for responding so fast! I do have another question to ask or better said a clarification from you... So if the widow did not pay for the cremation and funeral services nor did she signed any paperwork she still has the right to the remains (meaning over me, his father,)?
The funeral and cremation paper work is all in my name.

Thank you again for all your help!

S. Everhart


When it comes to arranging for a funeral and disposition of the body there are 2 separate transactions that have responsibility attached to them. The legal next of kin (  In this progression of kindred ship: surviving spouse, adult child, parents, siblings .....) has the primary right to make the arrangements for the funeral service and authorize whether the deceased's body will buried (And where) or cremated (And who is to take possession of the cremated remains). The other is the financial transaction to pay for the funeral service and the cemetery and/or cremation fees. Most of the time the legal next of kin assumes both responsibilities, but not always. For instance the surviving spouse may authorize that their spouse's body is to be cremated, but someone else may pay for the funeral service and cemetery and/or cremation charges ie: anyone can pay for the services, but only the legal next of can control the disposition of the body.

If you son and his wife were legally married at the time of his death, she was the only person who could sign the authorization for his body to be cremated. If she didn't sign the authorization for the cremation there are some serious questions that need to be answered.

I would recommend that you contact the State Agency in Ohio that regulates the operation of funeral homes and ask them about this situation if your Daughter in law never signed any documents.

Here is a link to their website:


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2016 All rights reserved.