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What is a Designated Funeral Representative?

In Michigan, the default rule has always been that a deceased person’s next of kin decides what happens to their loved one’s remains, even if that’s not who the deceased wanted to make the decisions. However, Michigan now has a law that gives a voice to those who have died, called a designated funeral representative.

What is a Designated Funeral representative?

A designated funeral representative, according to this recent law, is someone who is designated to have “the right and power to make decisions about funeral arrangements and the handling, disposition, or disinterment of a decedent’s body.” MCL 700.3206. This person also makes decisions about cremation and what to do with the cremated remains.

What are the duties of the funeral representative?

The representative has the right and power to make decisions about the deceased’s funeral arrangements, which they likely know from directives provided by the deceased person or from speaking with the deceased person while they were alive. They’ll decide if the body will be buried or cremated, and if the remains are cremated, what will happen to said remains. Also, the funeral representative is responsible for coordinating the funeral, burial, or cremation payments, which may be made through the decedent’s estate, insurance, or some other source.

What happens if you don’t have a designated funeral representative?

If you do not have a funeral representative, your next of kin decides your funeral arrangements. This person may be the surviving spouse, an adult child, adult grandchild, parent or sibling.

Having a family member handle the arrangements is fine in most cases; however, if family or friends don’t get along or if there are disagreements about the funeral arrangements, the funeral plans may be complicated and, sometimes, delayed.

Who may serve as your funeral representative?

Anyone you trust may serve as your funeral representative as long as they are age 18 or older and of sound mind. However, the law does prohibit closely related licensed healthcare professionals, employees of a healthcare facility who cared for you, a funeral home employee, a cemetery or crematory that provided you a service, and anyone charged with murdering you, to serve as your funeral representative.

How do I select a designated funeral representative?

You may designate a funeral representative in your will, healthcare power of attorney, or another notarized document. Most funeral homes have these documents available, or you may ask your estate planning attorney for a copy.

What if I change my mind?

The funeral designation may be revoked at any time by providing a notarized written notice.

The estate planning and probate attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio P.C. in Sterling Heights offer comprehensive planning and administrative services to individuals and families. Contact one of our attorneys today for help with your estate planning and probate needs.

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