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Burial, Cremation and Organ Donation as Part of Your Estate Plan

Posted 6 years 78 days ago ago by Danielle Streed

When we think about estate planning, we think about Wills, Trusts, Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney.  But you can't stop the planning there. It is also important to take the next step and make your wishes known with regard to your funeral,  burial or cremation and even organ donation.  Too many people assume that their family members know what they want and ultimately their wishes may not be honored.  For example,  with the recent fall season upon us, we are learning that more and more “fans” have wishes to have their remains scattered on their favorite college turf. Although this is probably not legal with most universities, it is an example of being specific in your wishes.  In addition to this planning, there is also the issue of organ donation.  Many families are grieving at the time of death and this is not something that they are thinking about or are able to process.  It is important to address this issue with your family well before a medical emergency occurs along with making the necessary plans with the donor organization and/or university.   On a more important note, it is also important to understand the laws regarding cremation.  Most people think that if they prepay for cremation it will be honored.  That is not true in the State of Michigan.  In Michigan, in order to be cremated your next of kin must approve the cremation.  For example,  if you are married and you are the first to die, your spouse has permission to authorize cremation.  If you are not married, a majority of your adult children must approve your cremation.  If you are not married and do not have children, your next of kin are your parents, if living, and if not, then your siblings.   If you cannot get the necessary signatures for cremation, you will be buried. When it comes to any estate planning issues, verbally telling your family what you want is probably not enough from a legal standpoint. Putting it is writing is the best way to ensure your wishes will be honored. 

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