The death of a loved one is never convenient, nor pleasant. It is a very emotional time and often stressful for those left behind. When choosing to hire an attorney to prepare an estate plan to make life easier for your loved ones, you may overlook the fact that planning a funeral or making the final arrangements may cause conflict amongst those left behind. Everyone grieves differently and sometimes our loved ones may have strong opinions regarding the final arrangements. It is important to talk to your loved ones to express you final wishes; however, sometimes those conversations are lost within the grief.
Within the last few years, Michigan passed legislation, at the recommendation of the Funeral Directors Association, to allow Michigan residents the right to designate a funeral representative in writing to ensure your final wishes are achieved. The funeral representative has the right and power to make decisions about funeral arrangements and the handling, disposition, or disinterment of a decedent’s body, including, but not limited to, decisions about cremation, and the right to retrieve from the funeral establishment and possess cremated remains of the decedent immediately after cremation. MCL 700.3206(1).
To empower a funeral representative one must create a writing that designates the representative and this writing must be signed before two witnesses and a notary. You may identify preferences for cremation, church services, funeral homes, cemeteries, etc. If you do not state a preference, the funeral representative will make those decisions on your behalf. The goal of appointing a funeral representative is to minimize disputes amongst our loved ones and help provide clarity for those planning the final arrangements.
This document is not necessary for everyone, especially, if you already pre-planned your funeral. People typically have strong beliefs in regard to funerals and the related arrangements and what is to be done after a loved one’s death. This document will be important for those people who do not have a lot of close relatives or who are concerned that the relatives that they have will not honor their wishes after death. If you have any question, you should opt for the safety net and prepare a funeral representative designation document. In doing so, you loved ones will have one less thing to worry about.