Designation of Funeral Representatives: A New Estate Planning Tool

Designation of Funeral Re…

Effective June 27, 2016, individuals in Michigan may designate “funeral representatives” to make funeral, burial, and related decisions for them after death, or to carry out decisions made by them prior to death. This is welcome news for those who may be estranged from certain family members or who have no close relatives on whom they can rely.

The designation of a funeral representative must be done in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses or a notary public. The designation can be included in a person’s will or patient advocate form, but we recommend a stand-alone document for simplicity and flexibility. (Indeed, those designated to make funeral decisions may not be the same people as those designated to make health care decisions or to handle probate.)

If no funeral representative has been designated, or if the funeral representative can’t be located after reasonable efforts or refuses to act within 48 hours after receiving notice of an individual’s death, then state law determines who gets to make funeral arrangements and have control over the disposition of a decedent’s body. In general, the decreasing order of priority is spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings.

If you are interested in designating one or more funeral representatives, please give us a call.

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