Rules for Scattering Cremation Ashes in Indiana

Did you know there are rules for scattering cremation ashes in Indiana? There certainly are! So, before you ask your family to promise to scatter your ashes (also called “cremains”) in a special place, it’s wise to understand the legal dos and don’ts of spreading ashes in the Hoosier state. Here’s what you should know:

Indiana law states that cremains may be scattered in a designated “scattering area” such as a peaceful garden space set aside in a cemetery, or on the private property of the person with legal authority to hold the cremains – usually the next of kin. Rules for scattering ashes in Indiana also allow for their disposition on other private property if the property owner consents. Ashes can also be scattered on uninhabited public land and in public waterways, with certain limitations. Before scattering ashes on public land, it is best to check with the governing authority to learn of any restrictions or special conditions or permits. This is also good practice for scattering cremains on public Indiana waterways.

Beyond this common-sense advice, there are rules at the federal level governing disposal of human remains as well. For example, the federal Clean Water Act restricts scattering ashes within three nautical miles from land. The Clean Water Act also governs scattering ashes on rivers and lakes. Again, check with the governing authority. Also, be aware that the Environmental Protection Agency requires notification within 30 days of the disposition of remains if scattered on jurisdictional waterways.

And speaking of notification, the State of Indiana is supposed to be notified within 10 days of ashes being scattered. This is the responsibility of the property owner where the ashes were scattered. (The form is described in Indiana Code 16-37-3.) Does everyone comply with this regulation? Probably not; and there appears to be no routine governing agency follow-up to check on the disposition of ashes. Because many, and perhaps most, ashes are kept in urns or other keepsakes in the homes of family members, government investigation of the location and disposition of cremains would be difficult.

So yes, there are rules for scattering cremation ashes in Indiana. Of course, the most important rule is to treat cremains with dignity and respect, and to be respectful of property owners, too. If you have questions regarding the rules for scattering cremation ashes in Indiana, contact us at Stillinger Family Funeral Home at (317) 462-5536. We can help you make thoughtful choices.

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