What to do When Next of Kin do not Agree on How to Bury Loved One

I had a case where a decedent made out a Last Will and Testament directing their personal representative / executor to dispose of their bodily remains in a certain fashion.  When it came time to bury the deceased, the the next of kin did not agree, even though their loved one had directed such.  The funeral director would not follow the decedent’s last wishes and forced the matter into court.  As a practical matter, funeral directors (homes) do not want to be liable, so if it looks like there could be exposure, they force the next of kin to agree or get an order from the court.  They may as well take the safe route given that MCL 700.3209 provides for their immunity from civil liability in such cases.

It behooves the family to agree to the satisfaction of the funeral director.  In coming to an agreement or deciding to go to court, consider, MCL 700.3206, which provides for the right to make decisions about the disposition of the decedent’s body; and MCL 700.3207, which provides for the petition and factors to be considered in a court decision.

This article was originally published on February 14, 2012. It has been revised and republished on July 8, 2014.

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