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 General Information
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Death at Home
Authorization of Funeral Arrangements
Caskets or Containers
Crematory Policies
Cemetery Requirements
Cash Advance Items
Professional Services
Death Away from Home
Death Overseas

Death at Home Return to Information List
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. 
Embalming Return to Information List
Embalming will impede but will not prevent the natural decomposition of a body. There is no exception under current law from embalming requirements for refrigeration, nor is a funeral home required to have refrigeration available. Further, most funeral homes will require and have the right to require that embalming take place when there is a public visitation, and you will be required to pay for that embalming. You do not have to pay for embalming that is not required by either the funeral home or state law and that you have not authorized.
Autopsies Return to Information List
Autopsies are performed, pursuant to State law, at the discretion of the County Medical Examiner when death occurs from any cause without a physician present or under suspicious circumstances. No family member may prohibit an autopsy by the County authority and no permission from the family is required. Any person with reasonable cause to believe that a death was not natural or accidental must report their suspicions to the local law enforcement authority and may request an autopsy by the Medical Examiner. Next-of-kin may grant or deny this privilege to the hospital where the death occurred.
Cremations Return to Information List
Cremations may take place legally only after permission has been received from the County Medical Examiner to ensure that no criminal action is concealed by the destruction of physical evidence. Embalming is required if the cremation does not take place within 48 hours of death or if the deceased had certain communicable diseases. The funeral home and crematory will require express written authorization for cremation from the next-of-kin.
Authorization of Funeral Arrangements Return to Information List
Under Michigan law 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 body to be donated to medical science, in which case, by statute, the deceased's wishes must be respected. 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.

Who is the next-of-kin? In general, next-of-kin are determined in the following order: Spouse; children; grandchildren; parents; siblings; nieces and nephews; grandparents; aunts and uncles; first cousins. If there are several next-of-kin within the same degree of kinship (for example, the spouse is dead and there are several children living), then most funeral directors will require that all the next-of-kin be in agreement before proceeding.

The law has no provision for "majority rule." 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. 
Caskets or Containers? Return to Information List
Caskets or Containers are not required by State law for burial and caskets are not required for cremation. However, crematories and cemeteries usually have minimum requirements. Models or photographs of caskets and containers available for sale must be on display in funeral homes with individual prices clearly marked. An owner or employee of a funeral home may not imply that a casket is protective when that is not true. A normal casket will impede but will not prevent the natural decomposition of a body.
Crematory Policies Return to Information List
Your loved one's disposition of cremation is handled locally by a registered, licensed crematory. There are standard procedures that are followed by our funeral home directors and staff to maintain identification throughout the cremation process. We maintain files of the legal documents and permits for all cremations arranged by our chapels. We provide our families with a choice of local crematories and families are welcomed to witness and or inspect the crematory of their choice. 
Cemetery Requirements Return to Information List
Cemetery Requirements usually include a minimum container and some sort of protection to prevent the collapse of the grave after burial, such as a concrete liner or box or some type of vault. A vault is more expensive than a liner as it completely encases the casket. Neither a vault or a liner ensures preservation of the body. Many cemeteries have specific requirements concerning the type of memorial or marker that may be placed on the grave and minimum container requirements for entombment of cremated remains. Cemeteries may establish their own requirements and charge for them. Check with the cemetery of your choice to determine its minimum requirements.
Cash Advance Items Return to Information List
Cash Advance Items are goods or services that are paid to a third party by the funeral director on your behalf such as obituary notices, death certificates, and clergy or musician honoraria. The funeral director may request payment for these services in advance. The law prohibits charging more than the actual cost of these items without informing the consumer.
Professional Services Return to Information List
In general, you only have to pay for the goods and services that you want, although you may be required to pay a basic charge for professional services or may be required to purchase a certain good or service when the purchase of another good or service is impractical or unduly burdensome without it.
Death Away from Home Return to Information List
If you are traveling (or living away from your home town) immediately contact your hometown 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.
Death Overseas Return to Information List
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.


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