Grand Rapids:

What Is a Designated Funeral Representative?

Death and dying is something we have little control over. While the passing of a loved one can bring greif, many individuals find comfort in knowing their final wishes will be carried out by a person they trust most. Typically family members are responsible to carry out an individual’s wishes, but there are circumstances where there isn’t a family member or an individual chooses to have a close friend or partner assist in their arrangements in place of family. In these cases it is necessary to have a funeral representative designation in place before death occurs.

In Michigan and within other areas of the United States, laws allow you to designate somebody you trust as your “designated funeral representative”. This person will have an understanding and be willing to carry out your final wishes. Your representative has the power to make decisions about funeral arrangements and the disposition of your body in a manner you find meaningful. 

Requirements to Designate a Funeral Representative 

If you’re a legal adult (18 or older in Michigan) and of sound mind, you can designate a funeral representative to assist in carrying out your funeral plans.

How To Designate a Funeral Representative 

Once you are ready to designate your representatives, you must, according to state law, do so in writing. To make it official, you have to sign and date the designation in the presence of a public notary and two witnesses. In the event that you are physically unable to sign and date the designation, the public notary can perform that task while indicating relevant statutes. The team at Gerst Funeral Homes can help guide you through this process by meeting with you to discuss your unique situation.

Who Can Be a Funeral Representative?

The representative must be at least 18 years of age. The person chosen can be a family member, partner, or friend. A second person must also be named in the event the 1st choice is unable to fulfill the commitment. In cases where the designee(s) is not a relative the following exclusions apply.. 

  • The designated representative cannot be an employee, member, owner, partner, officer, shareholder, or representative of either a crematory or a home that will provide services following your passing. 
  • The above-mentioned also applies to the same parties affiliated with a cemetery where your body will be buried or entombed, or in which your ashes will be interred.
  • The designated representative also may not be a health professional, other employee, or volunteer at any health facility providing care during your terminal illness or immediately prior to your death. In addition, the designated representative cannot be a member, partner, representative, or shareholder of that same facility. 

Who Can Be Witness For These Proceedings?

Any witness has to be at least 18 years or older. Michigan law indicates that a witness may not be the funeral representative or any of those who legally are prohibited from being designated, funeral representatives.

Who Gets the Final Say? 

When a Funeral designation form has been properly completed, the designated individual fulfills the wishes. If a funeral designation document has not been completed, the next of kin has full legal right to make all final wishes and designations.

Talk with Us About Funeral Representatives and More

End-of-life decisions are never easy. Establishing a plan in advance is one way to ease burden and create a positive experience. To get help with a funeral designation representative form or if you have questions about end-of-life planning, reach out to Gerst Funeral Homes to get more information.