Until 2016, Michigan law rigidly dictated who could serve as your representative for funeral arrangements. There was a hierarchy of next of kin: Spouse, parent, siblings according to age and so on. But families can be complicated, scattered or non-existent. A new law lets you designate who will handle your funeral and final resting place.
“As long as you’re living you can choose anyone aged 18 and over and of sound mind to carry out your wishes,” said Michelle O’Hara, a pre-planning advisor in our Utica facility. “This solves so many problems with contentious family members, or legal next of kin that may not want this task or know what you want”
It also resolves a legal requirement that the majority of the next of kin have to approve of a cremation.
“This is especially good for same-sex couples, or couples that have been together for some time, but never got married” said Sherry Marshall, a Funeral Director in Royal Oak. “Those who are married are protected by the law but those with an unmarried life partner may want that partner to carry out their wishes.” She said a funeral representative can be anyone, even a friend or neighbor.
A funeral representative cannot be a health- or caregiver to the deceased or an employee of a funeral home, cemetery or crematorium.
A death results in many decisions and legal actions: burial or cremation, casket selection, visitation, ceremony, final resting place. The best way to make sure your wishes are honored is to pre plan your funeral and let relevant people know about it. Even if you know your spouse or oldest child is able and willing, it’s still a good idea to fill out the easy, free form to designate them as your funeral representative.
“We say, ‘Thanks be to God’ when someone walks in with that form,” Sherry said.