2019 State Guide to Scattering Ashes - Michigan Edition

This state guide to scattering ashes focuses on the beautiful state of Michigan. This is the third edition of state-by-state rules and regulations involving storing and scattering ashes of a loved one. Additional state guides will be published on an ongoing basis so be sure to check back soon! 

While many outsiders associate Michigan with industry and automobile factories, residents and locals know it is actually one of the most beautiful states in the nation with stunning nature to be admired. Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes and home to more than 11,000 inland lakes, has 3,288 miles of beautiful coast (more than California!). Its abundant beauty can be seen in the unspoiled forests of the upper peninsula, at the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan, the craggy coast of Lake Huron, or a sunset on its west coast. For these reasons and others, Michigan is a special place to live and visit. 

Regulations in Michigan for Scattering Ashes

scattering michigan

We receive questions each week from families interested in knowing the rules and regulations for scattering ashes of a loved one or pet at a special place outdoors, in a yard, on other private property, in city, state and national parks, in lakes and rivers, etc. In this edition, we provide you with important information about storing and scattering ashes in the state of Michigan. We also provide you with key information so you can memorialize your loved one in Michigan in a legal and dignified way.

In Michigan, no state-wide laws exist around storing or scattering ashes. A loved one’s cremated ashes can be kept in a crypt, grave, urn or other container at home or other place of your choosing. If you make the decision to scatter the ashes of a loved one or pet, there are many options to choose from in Michigan. Through the cremation process, ashes are sterilized and therefore harmless. There are no health risks related to storing or scattering ashes.

Although there are no state laws regarding storing or scattering ashes in Michigan, it is always best to check any local city or county regulations. State and national parks each have their own rules and guidelines to follow – if you plan on scattering at one of these locations it is important to first check any forms you need to fill out or other special requirements that need to be met before scattering. Just a simple internet search will provide you with the phone number of the administrator at the park or location - just give them a call, they are there to help! In addition, it is always advised to use common sense when scattering and be respectful and courteous to others.

Locations to Scatter Ashes in Michigan

When a loved one or pet passes, many families choose to scatter their ashes at a place special to them or another location of the family’s choosing. The process of scattering ashes can bring comfort to families and friends at a time of strong emotions and loss. Many choose to hold a memorial service prior to, during, or after the scattering which can be a great way to honor a loved one and a memorable experience for all who attend.

There are many beautiful places to scatter ashes of a loved one in Michigan. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most common ones:

  • Private Land - similar to most other states, in Michigan you are permitted to scatter ashes on your own private property (in your yard or other piece of land) or the private property of another person or organization with their permission.
  • Scattering Gardens - a number of churches, cemeteries, and memorial parks throughout Michigan have designated a special area where families can scatter ashes of a loved one, commonly referred to as scattering gardens. An internet search or a call to your local funeral home can help you find one in your area.
  • Public Land - Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful sites in the nation, including its amazing lakes, idyllic islands, vast beaches, sand dunes, and abundance of trees and parks. Prior to scattering on public land (and whenever you’re not sure), be sure to check with your local city or county offices to find out if you need permission and any other regulations that may exist at a local level.
  • Federal Land - it is recommended that you request permission prior to scattering ashes on any federal land. In addition, be considerate of others when scattering and try to avoid trails or roadways. Regulations related to scattering in National Parks are available on the National Parks website and many of the national parks throughout the country allow scattering in certain areas of the park as long as you get a permit beforehand.
  • Water Burial - scattering ashes in water, commonly referred to as a water burial, has long been a tradition of many families and with the rise in cremation is becoming more and more popular, especially in states that border or have large waterways. The Federal Clean Water Act allows cremated ashes to be scattered in the water as long as it’s 3 nautical miles from land. Most harbors throughout the U.S. have boat services that will take you out the proper distance from shore to perform the scattering - a quick internet search will most likely pull up one or more options near you. For inland water burial in Michigan, it is best to contact the local park and/or the state agency as you may be legally required to obtain a permit from the state agency that manages the waterway.
  • By Air - similar to other states, we are not aware of any Michigan state laws concerning scattering ashes from the air. However, Federal law prohibits dropping any objects from the air that can potentially cause harm to people or property, however, they do not consider ashes to be an issue and these are permitted to be dropped from a plane. Just make sure the urn or other container used to hold the ashes is held on to and not dropped during the scattering.

What to Use to Scatter Ashes?

With the increasing rate of cremation in Michigan and other states nationwide, along with the growing popularity of scattering ashes, many new and unique urns have recently been introduced that are designed to scatter. This includes the following:

Eco Water Urn

water burial

Michigan is surrounded by the majestic water of the Great Lakes. With the abundance of water and natural beauty, water burials are a very popular option. The new patent pending Eco Water Urn is the water urn of choice for funeral homes nationwide and provides families with a memorable experience that truly honors a loved one. This unique urn floats upright like a buoy for a short time before dissolving and completely freeing the ashes in the water. The Eco Water Urn comes packaged in an attractive bamboo case, which makes for a beautiful presentation for ceremonies, makes it easy to transport, and makes your loved one’s ashes to that special place for a water burial. The Eco Water Urn is TSA permissible.

Eco Scattering Urns

scattering urn

The Living Urn’s patented line of scattering urns, called Eco Scattering Urns, provide families with an eco-friendly way to scatter ashes of a loved one or pet. These beautiful and unique urns are made from bamboo, one of the most eco-friendly building materials on earth, and are easy to use and enable families to scatter ashes in a dignified and graceful manner. Eco Scattering Urns are available in four sizes. The different sizes give families options - some families split up the ashes of a loved one in multiple scattering urns for each family member, while other families will put all of the ashes in a single urn and scatter together. Some families will also use the Eco Scattering Urns as a traditional urn and store the ashes for many years, giving them the option to scatter or bury at some date in the future if they choose. One truly unique feature of the Eco Scattering Urn is its proprietary top which can be locked and secured in a closed position and also in an open or scattering position. This not only makes it easy for families to scatter with ease and control, but also provides families with the option to scatter a portion of a loved one’s ashes at one location and then secure the remaining ashes in the urn to keep or scatter at another location.

Paper or Cardboard Scattering Urns

There are many urns on the market that are manufactured from cardboard. These urns (or tubes) are used to scatter, however have some drawbacks. One drawback, in particular, is that since they are manufactured with paper they can break down in certain weather conditions (such as in the rain or snow). Also, after scattering a portion of the cremated ashes, there isn’t a reliable or easy way to re-secure the ashes that are left in the urn to bring to another location to scatter or bring home. In addition, most of the urns made from paper require an added step for the funeral home or family to glue it together once it is loaded with cremated ashes. Gluing the urn together can be cumbersome and, if the gluing is not done properly, the urn could break apart.

Eco Burial Urns

Rather than spreading ashes, some families prefer to bury ashes at a special place in nature. For these families, the Eco Burial Urn is a popular option. Made only from beautiful bamboo, the Eco Burial Urn is strong and rigid above ground and can be used as a permanent urn and will not biodegrade until buried. Once it is placed in the ground and exposed to soil and moisture, the bamboo of the Eco Burial Urn will slowly biodegrade, freeing the remains in the earth. For families that prefer burying ashes to scattering them, the Eco Burial Urn is the perfect choice.

Multiple Memorials

Many people decide to scatter only a portion of a loved one or pet’s ashes and either hold on to the remaining ashes in an urn in the home or do another memorial with the remaining ash. With the increased rate of cremation, there are many new and unique memorials available. This includes planting a tree urn with the cremated ashes of a loved one (or pet) in The Living Urn, including a portion of the ashes in a piece of jewelry, and infusing the ashes into an artistic glass piece, among others.