Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Human Remains Definition:

The body of a deceased person, in whole or in parts, regardless of its stage of decomposition.

Related Terms: Funeral, Cremation, Exhumation, Corpse, Cadaver

In the American state of California, the 2011 Health and Safety Code defines human remains as follows, at §7001:

"Human remains ... means the body of a deceased person, regardless of its stage of decomposition, and cremated remains."

But cremated remains, essentially just ashes but often including bone fragments, are not always included in the definition of human remains.

Note these words on the topic of Australian law, by Skene and Masters:

"Cremated ashes are not human remains or a body and as such have no legal status."


  • Skene, Loane and Masters, Brenda, What Legal Rights Do You Have Over Your Body After Your Death?, Australian Law Reform Commission Issue 81, (2002)

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