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Making Plans For Ashes ‘Could Save Families Plenty Of Heartache’

Specialist Calls For People To Talk About Their Wishes


An estate dispute specialist at Irwin Mitchell has called on people to always consider what they would like to happen to their ashes following their death, after a BBC Radio 4 programme revealed many Britons fail to outline such wishes.

Feed Me to the Wind revealed that many funeral directors across the country have to consider what to do with uncollected ashes, generally due to uncertainty from families on what they should do with them.

Experts also suggested that the issue was linked to the ‘national psyche’ which tends to avoid discussions on death and the options available once a person has passed away.

Now, Chris Walton, a solicitor who specialises in providing advice on will disputes at Irwin Mitchell, has called on people to ensure their families are fully aware of what they want to happen to their body after death through discussions and terms in a Will.

He explained: “Talking about how you want your body to be treated after death is not an easy conversation to have with family and friends, but there are major legal implications which can arise if such issues have not been discussed before a person has passed away.

“Generally, the law in relation to the handling of ashes implies there are no general restrictions on how families may choose to dispose of them, as long as of course the person scattering them takes care not to cause injury or harm during the act.

“In terms of who receives the ashes in the first instance, regulations in the area suggest that the person who delivers the body for cremation would receive the ashes. These should be issues that families bear in mind, particularly if people have their own ideas on how they want their remains to be handled.”

Chris went on to explain that there are many benefits to discussions, especially as they can help to avoid disputes in the long run.

He outlined: “It is not uncommon to see Will and estate disputes arise from the issue of the ownership of ashes or how they are dealt with, so funeral arrangements should always be fully discussed by family and friends.

“By failing to do so, people could be inadvertently leading their loved ones into both heartache and frustration, over something which may have been solved with a simple addition to a Will or the inclusion of a letter of wishes in the document.”