For years, I have bemoaned the fact that my clients were unable under Michigan law to be confident that their wishes with respect to their own funeral and burial arrangements would be honored. The fact is, Michigan gave total control over funeral and burial arrangements to the next of kin. Hard as it is to believe, an individual had no power to control their own funeral or burial arrangements. This is true, even if a pre-paid arrangement has been contracted for with a funeral home.
However, a new law has been adopted that will allow individuals to appoint a funeral representative who will act much like a trustee or personal representative, but with full authority to make all funeral and burial arrangements. The law will go into effect June 27, 2016.
The law permits anyone to appoint any adult (other than funeral home or cemetery employees) to be their funeral representative. The document that make this appointment must have two witnesses and be notarized. It can be part of a Healthcare Power of Attorney, or part of a Will, or it can be a standalone document.
Because the law permits Funeral Homes to request and obtain a copy of the document, we will be recommending that the Will not be used for this purpose. For now we plan on preparing the appointment as a separate document. That way, clients do not have to feel pressure to select the same people as they pick for the Healthcare Patient Advocate.
If you have concerns about your funeral plans being carried out, we recommend you contact us to have an Appointment of Funeral Representative prepared and executed.