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Funeral Representative Designation: To Bury, or Not to Bury

Feb 27 | 2024  by

Planning your funeral can be stressful, but a funeral representative designation can alleviate some of that stress. Even from beyond the grave!

A Feud Between Sisters

Take this recent scenario, a woman called me about her mother. She had died two weeks prior and her body was STILL in the mortuary. She and her sister disagreed as to the preferred form of burial and funeral. The woman wanted to bury her mother and have a conventional funeral. While her sister wanted to cremate their mother and forego a conventional funeral.

Because neither of them could decide, the woman called me hoping I could intervene. Unfortunately, the woman’s mother had not executed a funeral representative designation form, nor had she indicated her preferred method of burial or funeral arrangements anywhere in her estate plan. Therefore, unless they wanted to fight in court and leave their mother’s body in a mortuary (incurring extra costs), they would have to figure it out themselves, and fast.

Eventually, after a couple of days, the sisters compromised: cremate their mother’s body and have a small conventional funeral. This ended well, but imagine if an agreement couldn’t be made and their mother’s body was not laid to rest for weeks or even months after that. Not only is this expensive and time-consuming, but it also tears families apart.

Benefits of a Funeral Representative Designation

Fortunately, the above scenario is completely preventable. Under Michigan Law, any individual can clearly state whom they want to arrange their funeral and their preferred method of burial via their Last Will & Testament plus a funeral representative designation.

While death makes many of us feel uncomfortable, it is inevitable. Therefore, pre-arrangements are very helpful. Not only are you helping your relatives – because grieving a loss is already hard enough – but it also gives you peace of mind knowing that you will be laid to rest how you want. Even if you have already pre-paid for a plot or casket, it’s still helpful to designate someone to make sure your wishes are carried out.

However, if you have not and don’t plan to pre-pay for a burial plot or casket, it’s especially important to designate a funeral representative. The designated funeral representative will have the power to carry out your burial wishes and seek payment for any post-death funeral arrangements because death is expensive! In my example above, the sister wanted to cremate her mother and forego a conventional funeral because it was the “cheaper” option.

Accordingly, while planning for the distribution of your estate is important, it’s equally important to plan for your remains, especially now that there are so many options. By way of example, did you know there is such a thing as an eco-burial? Just some food for thought as you set out on your journey of planning for the end. Happy trails!

Need Help? Contact Fausone & Grysko, PLC

If you have questions about a funeral representative designation form, creating one, or drafting a comprehensive estate plan, contact attorney Denise Medina at Fausone & Grysko, PLC. Denise can be reached at (248) 380-0000.