On March 29, 2016, Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 551 into law. The bill makes it possible for a person to appoint a “funeral representative.” The funeral representative will be able to make funeral and other arrangements regarding the disposition of the remains.
Currently, the next of kin has the authority to control the funeral and burial arrangement, which has caused issue for attorneys and surviving heirs for some time. There is often controversy and confusion when the next of kin can’t agree, or where the known wishes of the decedent are in conflict with those of the deciding family members. Attorneys have utilized waivers by which the next of kin would relinquish his/her right to arrangements concerning the disposition and burial of the decedent. However, the issue remained in cases where the next of kin was unwilling to participate. The new law resolves issues surrounding funeral and burial arrangement.
Under the new law, a person can appoint a funeral representative in a will, patient advocate designation, or a separate document. The representative would have the right and power to make decisions about funeral arrangements and disposition of the decedent’s body. The new law will take effect on June 27, 2016.