ARTICLE: Ashes to Ashes: Comparative Law Regarding Survivors' Disputes Concerning Cremation and Cremated Remains Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2008 Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems
Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems

ARTICLE: Ashes to Ashes: Comparative Law Regarding Survivors' Disputes Concerning Cremation and Cremated Remains

Spring, 2008

Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems

17 Transnat'l L. & Contemp. Probs. 311


Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod*


I. Introduction
Several years ago, Professor of Law Michael A. Olivas underwent some inner emotional and religious turmoil concerning his father's death. Professor Olivas wrote:

Before my father, Sabino Olivas, a great chilero, died, he left clear oral instructions to me that his ashes were to be spread on his chile plants. He died following a car accident in 1998. I was the executor of his will, and I was required to make a solomonic choice-he was also a lifelong Catholic, and Catholics may be cremated but their ashes are to be interred in consecrated ground. What is el hijomayor to do? Do first son obligations trump fiduciary obligations? Is a chile plant "consecrated" ground, under [New Mexico] law? Is this a case of habeas corpus?

So I took a pinch of ash and sprinkled it on the plants in the backyard, and I buried the rest in his grave in the Santa Fe Military Cemetery. 2
His decision allowed him to honor peacefully his father's last wishes.

Decisions regarding cremation of decedents and disposition of ashes, however, are often accompanied by feuding rather than harmony. On March 12, 2007, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania decided that a trial judge had abused his discretion in deciding that a child's ashes should be divided between the deceased child's parents to be disposed of as each saw proper. 3 The dispute over the couple's son arose in the process of their divorce. 4 Disputes such as these are not uncommon. 5
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