Funeral and after-death care come with a host of practical questions. Finding answers can feel overwhelming, whether you are responding to the unexpected or planning ahead. We’ve included here answers to some of the most common questions we are asked. Click a question from the list of questions below to see the answer. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please give us a call at 989-732-1770 or click the Contact Us button.
Purchasing an urn is not a state law requirement. Please keep in mind that the crematory will place your loved one’s cremated remains in a temporary container. It will not represent a keepsake style vessel. However, if scattering the ashes is the ultimate goal after the cremation service, the temporary container will suffice. If your plans are to keep the cremated remains at home or split them up amongst family members and loved ones, having an urn would be especially helpful. Urns come in all sizes, shapes, and appearances so you can choose what best suits your style or the deceased’s life or hobbies. Your funeral home should guide you through options and styles to make this keepsake memorable and unique to you and your loved ones.
The good news is that embalming is not necessary, according to state law in Michigan. However, if you want a public viewing before cremation services, then embalming might be something you may want to consider, not because of public health, but as a way to slow the decomposition process and maintain a good appearance of the deceased. While some options such as refrigeration or dry ice can help with preservation, embalming is the best choice if you want a public funeral or service before cremation.
When you purchase an insurance plan sometimes you can purchase the funeral at a “discount” by making a one-time premium payment or you can sometimes pay by installments and have the funeral guaranteed even if death occurs before all the installment payments are made. You should clearly understand the difference between an insurance plan and a trust plan. Under a trust plan, if you cancel the plan, the funeral home may keep no more than ten percent of the trust. Your receive everything else you have contributed, plus interest. If you cancel an insurance policy, you receive back only the “cash value.”
If death occurs in a foreign country, the U.S. Consulate in that country can assist in making arrangements. These arrangements vary in cost and can be very expensive, so be sure to insist upon careful cost estimates. Also be sure to obtain at least ten English translations of the death certificate at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
If you are traveling (or living away from your home town) immediately contact your home town funeral director who will be able to make the necessary professional contacts for you (including, if necessary, a funeral home in the location of the death), usually within minutes, often avoiding costs resulting from duplication of services.
A sudden or unexpected death at home or other private residence when a physician is not present should be reported to the local law enforcement authority immediately. Do not disturb the body. When the police arrive, they will notify the proper authorities for removal of the body. Let the police know your preference of funeral home. Depending on the circumstances of death, it may be required that the remains be first transported to and/or released by the County Medical Examiner. When death at home is anticipated, normally the patient is under Hospice care. When the death occurs, you should contact Hospice. Hospice will often facilitate many of the procedures listed above, including contact with the funeral home of your choice.
In general, next-of-kin are determined in the following order: funeral representative; spouse; children; grandchildren; parents; grandparents; siblings; nieces and nephews; aunts, uncles, and first cousins. If there are several next-of-kin within the same degree of kinship (for example, the spouse is deceased and there are several children living), then most funeral directors will require that all the next-of-kin be in agreement before proceeding. If problems reaching agreement are anticipated, it is best to work out an understanding or accommodation prior to death in order to avoid delays and legal entanglements once the death has occurred.
Under Michigan law, authorization of funeral arrangements can be made only by the next-of-kin. Their wishes supersede the expressed wishes of the deceased contained in the deceased’s will or other written or oral communication. The only exception to this is if the deceased has arranged for his or her body to be donated to medical science, in which case, by statute, the deceased’s wishes must be respected. In the case of arrangements involving cremation, the necessary authorizations must be made by the majority of next-of-kin. For example, if four children are in charge of arrangements, then three (not two) must be in agreement regarding this decision. The personal representative or executor of the estate has no special authority to make funeral arrangements contrary to the wishes of the next-of-kin.