Navigating the Advance Funeral Planning Process

Ask the Experts by Jon O'Hara

Q: When completing my advance funeral plan, are there any additional considerations to further help my family at the time of my passing?

A: There are many important considerations while navigating the advance funeral planning process, but one recent change in Michigan stands out.

An important law was passed last year to make things a bit easier when a death occurs for Michigan families. The Michigan Public Act 57 of 2016, which became effective June 27, 2016, allows an individual to designate a single 'agent' of sound mind who has attained age 18 to act as their "funeral representative" to make post-death decisions regarding funeral arrangements/disposition. The individual making the appointment can also name a successor funeral representative, to act in the event the initial funeral representative is unable or unwilling.

For example, if an individual's legal next of kin is separated among several nieces and nephews; it's very easy to appoint one of the individuals to act as the lone funeral representative. Once appointed (proper paperwork required), the representative would have full authority making funeral arrangements.

As you can see, the next of kin designation can move from singular to multiple, quickly. Which can, at times, complicate the arrangement process if all parties are not in agreement on final disposition (i.e. cremation, burial, entombment). If a funeral representative is not designated and on file, the traditional 'legal next of kin' order would be followed for disposition rights.

The Michigan Funeral Representative Act can be a critical piece to your planning, and could be instrumental in streamlining your final arrangements. If you are in the process of preplanning or beginning your research, this might be a topic of consideration for your personal situation. Your local funeral director should have the legal paperwork and guidance available free of charge. Well wishes in smart planning!

Jon O'Hara is a licensed funeral director and the Director of Advance Planning at A.H. Peters in Grosse Pointe Woods and Warren. Jon can be reached at 313-884-5500 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . A.H. Peters is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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