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What Is a Funeral Representative?

Clarkston Legal April 4, 2016

This post introduces the reader to a funeral representative; a new type of fiduciary recently created by statute.

If you die, who is responsible for making your funeral arrangements and final disposition decisions? Do your loved ones know what your wishes are upon your death, and will those wishes be honored?

Typically, the next-of-kin are responsible for funeral arrangements and the disposition of a decedent’s body. Family members face burial decisions: whether to cremate remains; whether to bury the remains; and how much money to spend.


The law dictates the order of priority for the next-of-kin, beginning with the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, this can be problematic and the decision-making process quickly becomes complicated. For example, the next-of-kin may be an individual who may not agree with the decedent’s plans; or the next-of-kin may be estranged from the decedent.

Often the person closest to the decedent is a more distant relative or not a relative at all, such as a life partner or friendly neighbor, with no legal authority to make any such decisions.

Funeral Representative Law

On March 29, 2016, a probate bill was signed into law to attempt to address this situation. This new law created the “Funeral Representative”.

The new law allows individuals to designate a fiduciary as their Funeral Representative. This fiduciary makes arrangements for the disposition of the decedent’s remains, woks with the funeral home and pays funeral-related invoices.

A designated Funeral Representative will have priority over other persons including a spouse, children, and parents. The purpose of a Funeral Representative is to help prevent disputes among loved ones and to provide more clarity as to who will be responsible for funeral arrangements and final disposition decisions.

Put It in Writing

A Funeral Representative designation can be an important part of your estate plan. Consider adding a Funeral Representative designation if you think your relatives will disagree or otherwise not carry out your wishes; if you have estranged relatives; if you do not have any living relatives; or if the closest person(s) to you are simply friends or neighbors with no real legal status.

The Funeral Representative designation must be in writing and in proper legal form to be valid. The nominated fiduciary may accept the designation in writing or by acting as the Funeral Representative.

Give Us a Call

To designate a funeral representative, call our firm to schedule a free consultation. It only takes one call to start the probate process.