Michigan has recently passed legislation that allows an individual to designate in their estate planning documents a "Funeral Representative" ("FR"). Effective June 27, 2016, the Funeral Representative Designation Act (“the Act”) provides for an individual (“the Declarant”) to execute a document designating another individual as their FR. The FR has the right and power to make all funeral, burial, and cremation decisions regarding the Declarant.
Prior to the Act, only a surviving spouse, child, or close relative could make these decisions and an individual had no way of designating a specific individual among that group. The Act changed the order of priority for individuals having the right to make these decisions by giving the FR priority over a surviving spouse and heirs. The FR does not have to be a surviving spouse, child, or close relative.
In practice, this will help to prevent family disputes and give the Declarant peace of mind that their wishes will be carried out. Designating a FR will likely be most beneficial to individuals who have a partner to whom they are not married, who do not have any family, whose family members do not live nearby, or where family disagreements are likely. Designating a FR will also be important to individuals who have specific wishes regarding their funeral, burial, and/or cremation decisions and are concerned that family members will not follow such wishes.
The Declarant may designate a FR in their will, patient advocate designation, or in a separate document. Designating a FR in a separate document is recommended as the designation will need to be reviewed by funeral homes. A separate document will be easier for the funeral home to review and will avoid having to provide the funeral home with a copy of the will or patient advocate designation.
For more information, contact Estate Planning attorney, Jeffrey M. Black, at (616) 458-3994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.