Q: I have an interest in my ashes being sent into space after my demise. Any law that prohibits it?
-R.C., Seal Beach
A: First, embalming, burial and cremation are regulated, including if ashes are to be scattered. As to outer space, the law requires the ashes to remain in a container; it is not permissible for your ashes to be spread in space, as if being scattered at sea. Research further indicates only a portion of ashes may be included so that the container is not too large. In some instances, the container burns up upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, or continues to its extraterrestrial destination. The container is not to cause harm to person or property.
Q: Am I required to buy a casket from a funeral home, or can I purchase it from somewhere else?
A: Federal law requires funeral homes to accept caskets that are purchased from another source.
Q: Is there a law about how far from land the ashes of a loved one may be scattered?
-H.W., West Hollywood
A: The federal Clean Water Act requires ashes of a decedent to be scattered at least three nautical miles from land.
The California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau is part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Its website has useful information on matters related to funerals and burial places, as well as details concerning the impact at present of the coronavirus: cfb.ca.gov.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at email@example.com.