By Joan Cripe Skrzyniarz

A new law has made it possible for an individual to designate a funeral representative to make funeral arrangements and decisions about his or her remains. 2016 PA 57 takes effect on June 27, 2016. A 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 possess cremated remains of the decedent.” Previously, a decedent’s surviving spouse or intestate successors in order of succession made those decisions. However, problems arose when a majority of the intestate successors could not agree. Accordingly, this amendment permits an individual to designate a funeral representative in his or her will, patient advocate designation, or other writing. To be valid, the designation must be (1) written; (2) dated; (3) signed voluntarily by the individual or by a notary public on the individual’s behalf; and (4) attested by two witnesses who are not the funeral representative, or acknowledged before a notary public. If the funeral representative is designated in a will, the will need not be admitted to probate for the designation to be valid. Now, a validly designated funeral representative takes priority over a surviving spouse and intestate successors in making funeral arrangements and disposition decisions.

For more information, contact Joan Cripe Skrzyniarz in our Troy, Mich. office at 248-433-7521.