There is no legal definition of ashes. They may be property, they may not be.
What are ashes? Two conflicting definitions have been variously applied by crematoria and those advising the bereaved. They are:
Ashes are what remains of a human body minus any metal after the last flame has die.
Ashes are all that remains of the human body + coffin ash + ash from anything placed in the coffin minus any metal after the last flame has died.
In practice it is impossible to tell coffin ash apart from body ash: they cannot be separated. Furthermore, in the perception of the general public, ashes are all that remains after cremation. For these two reasons Lord Bonomy in his Report of the Infant Cremation Commission 2014, recommended that cremation ashes be defined in Scottish law as:
“all that is left within the cremator at the conclusion of the cremation process and following the extraction of all metal.”
At the present time it is not known whether the Scottish or English parliaments will act upon this recommendation.
Bones from foetuses as young as 17 weeks have been shown to survive cremation.