Cremation is becoming more popular for a number of reasons including financial and environmental.

According to, the number of people getting cremated in 1960 was only 3.6%. By the end of 2025, that number is expected to reach 63.3%.

We've all seen a movie or two in which the plot revolves around the scattering of ashes of a person who has passed away. The Big Lebowski and the Folgers can come to mind.

Have you ever wondered if there were laws in Massachusetts surrounding exactly where you can scatter the ashes of a loved one?

First of all, who's responsibility is it to care for the ashes of a person who has been cremated?

According to Mass.Gov, the order is this:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • The adult children of the deceased
  • The parents of the deceased.
  • The siblings of the deceased

If none of these are applicable, then the responsibility goes to any other person authorized or legally obligated to dispose of the remains of the deceased.

Guidelines for Spreading Ashes in Massachusetts

There's a whole lot of common sense at play here.

You can, of course, scatter the ashes of a loved one on your own private property. specifically states that ashes from a cremation are "harmless" and cause no public health risk.

READ MORE: Famous People You Didn't Know Were Buried in Massachusetts

However, the government site also urges you to ask permission before spreading ashes on other people's private property. That certainly makes sense.

Regarding scattering ashes on public property, you are encouraged to reach out to local government officials.

Spreading ashes in the ocean is protected by federal laws when done beyond 3 miles from shore.

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