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FLORIDA PROBATE LAW - WHO OWNS A DECEDENT'S ASHES?


The parents of a deceased child were the sole heirs of the child’s estate. The child’s remains were cremated, and the parents could not agree on the final disposition of his assets. The father petitioned the probate court to divide the ashes equally among the mother and father as the heirs of the child.
The Florida’s probate code defines “property” as “both real and personal property or any interest in it and anything that may be the subject of ownership.” The probate court found that the ashes were not “property” subject to division in accordance with the division of other property of the decedent, and the appellate court agreed. The appellate court noted that while there is a legitimate claim of entitlement by the next of kin to possession of the remains of a decedent for burial or other lawful disposition, this does not give rise to a property right and does not convert those remains to “property” for disposition purposes.