funeral or cremation is no easy task. It can help if you are planning
ahead of time, as this enables you to fully inform yourself of options
and make decisions without feeling pressurized. We have outlined
in this guide for Michigan an overview of some of the basic questions you
may need to consider, and how Michigan state law governs some basic elements
of the death care process.
The most important thing
is to understand what is available to you, and what your rights are as
a consumer. Purchasing funeral products and services is legislated
much like any other consumer industry. But be alerted to the fact
that this IS an industry where state regulations can vary from federal
legislation, and an industry that has been known to prey on the vulnerable
in the name of profit. The death care industry is worth billions,
and for decades we have been lured into spending unnecessarily on many
aspects of death care.
Public Health Code 333.2843(3)
“a death record shall be certified by a funeral director licensed to practice
mortuary science in this state”. This also means that if your loved
one has died in a hospital or a nursing home, they will only release the
deceased into the direct care of a funeral director. So whatever
you decide, you will have to enlist at least the basic services of a licensed
How do you choose which
funeral home or cremation provider is right for your needs?
This is the probably your starting
point – choosing who should be your funeral director. Michigan is
only one of 8 states that does not allow residents to handle the disposition
of their deceased if they so wished. Michigan law actually requires
a family to purchase the services of a funeral director, even if you would
to manage the death care of your loved one at home.
Michigan is also the ONLY
state that requires a funeral director to certify a death certificate.
According to the
Deciding which funeral provider
is right for your needs is largely determined by what type of services
you require, your location and your finances. Some funeral homes
offer a full range of services from basic services, to ‘green’ alternatives,
or full elaborate traditional funerals. Other funeral homes will
specialize in a particular aspect of funeral care, such the simple, affordable
options, or ‘life celebration’ and alternative funeral options. There
are even a number of specialized cremation providers these days that only
offer cremation choices. You firstly need to decide what services
you want, as this will help you to narrow down your selection of providers.
If cost is very much a determining factor, you will most likely want to
consider cremation. This is by far your cheapest option for a funeral
in Michigan. We discuss more about your options for cremation below.
Who has responsibility
to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements?
The next of kin will usually
take responsibility for making the funeral arrangements. Legally
it falls into a hierarchy of: spouse, children, siblings, nephew/niece,
grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, legal representative as appointed in a
will, guardian, Medical Examiner. If there is any disagreement
about funeral arrangements, it can be legally determined by the hierarchy
How do I find a funeral
home or cremation provider in Michigan?
You have arrived at US Funerals
Online because you were searching online for some funeral or cremation
information. This page aims to help arm you with some basic tips
and facts about funerals and cremations in Michigan to help you find the
provider that is right for you. Our funeral home directory lists
ALL funeral homes and cremation providers by city and in zip code order.
This is to help make it easy for you to see and find the providers nearest
to you. If you want to locate your nearest, cheapest cremation provider
– you should visit DFS Memorials. We have an alliance with DFS Memorials,
as we believe all residents of Michigan should be entitled to have a low
cost cremation provided by a local, family-owned funeral company.
attitudes towards religious
beliefs and death rituals are changing. You must decide what is right
for you, and/or what the deceased’s wishes were.
Do you want a burial or
This is a personal choice.
These days it is becoming more dictated by cost. A burial will cost
you far more than a cremation, so many are turning to cremation as a cheaper
alternative. If you opt for a burial you may need such things as
a casket, a cemetery plot, a grave liner, a vault and a headstone.
These all have expensive price tags.
The cremation rate in Michigan
is around 40%, which is about the same of the national rate. Cremation
is gaining in popularity though, and as mentioned above this is partly
about cost, but is also because our
What is the cost of a
funeral or cremation in Michigan?
This is one of the main reasons
many people get online and start researching funerals these days.
They want to know how much a funeral or cremation costs in Michigan.
Unfortunately, it is not a simple answer, as the truthful answer is that
prices for funeral services and products can vary tremendously between
different providers and in different areas. It is very difficult
to quote a ‘standard’ price. It is that “how long is a piece of string”
type of question. The most straightforward answer we can provide
is that you CAN obtain a basic direct cremation in Detroit for around $795,
and a direct burial for $995. The cremation providers who offer these
discount prices will often service a wider area, but will charge an additional
Is embalming required
State law does not require embalming.
However, Michigan law does not require temperature reduction as an alternative
to embalming. Therefore, according to state laws the final disposition
of the deceased must be conducted within 48 hours, whether this is a burial
or cremation. A funeral home cannot tell you that the law says you
must have the deceased embalmed, but they can have a practice that states
embalming is required by their establishment if the deceased is to remain
there in excess of 48 hours. Many funeral directors will recommend
embalming if a viewing or open-casket service is requested. Do not
feel obligated to undertake this if you intend to have a service immediately.
Embalming does not prevent natural decomposition.
Can we conduct a ‘home
funeral’ in Michigan?
Yes, although you will still
have to use the services of a funeral director to file the death certificate,
supervise the disposition, and obtain a cremation permit and a burial transit
permit. However, you may still prepare your loved one personally
and transport the body in your own vehicle. The funeral director
who is contracted to oversee the disposition, may wish to meet with you
at the cemetery or crematory to check that the final place of disposition
is as stated on the death certificate. It is legal to bury a loved
one on your own land but you must obtain the zoning approval and a permit
from the local public health department. This is not always as straightforward
as it should be, and there are certain restrictions to do with acreage,
proximity to neighbors and wells and taxation.
caskets direct from funeral
homes at huge mark-ups. A funeral home must now provide you with
a Casket Price List when discussing, or showing you, caskets for sale.
The introduction of the funeral rule opened up a whole market in discounted
casket sales, and you can sometimes save significantly by purchasing from
a casket retailer. It is always wise to ensure you are dealing with
a reputable retailer, but this does now mean that a standard casket can
be purchased for around $995.
What are my options for
purchasing a casket or alternative container?
There is no Michigan law that
states you must have a casket for a cremation or a simple burial.
However, all crematories will require that a suitable combustible container
is used. Most cemeteries will insist that a rigid container is used
for a burial, but this can be a basic wood or cardboard container.
You do have the right to purchase a casket from a third party casket seller,
and your funeral home must accept it without any surcharge. This
was introduced by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ‘funeral rule’,
and specifically to prevent consumers from being pressurized to purchase
What are burial and cemetery
plot requirements in Michigan?
There is no state law that requires
you to have a burial vault or outer burial container, but most cemeteries
have regulations that require you to have one. You should always
fully check cemetery regulations before committing to a cemetery plot,
as they usually have a number of rules that stipulate about such things
as grave liners, grave markers and maintenance. Cemeteries require
vaults to help prevent subsidence, and especially where heavy machinery
is used for mowing and maintenance.
Can I preplan a funeral
or cremation? How does Michigan state law govern preneed plans?
Yes, you can preplan a funeral
or cremation in Michigan. In fact it is a good way to ensure your
wishes are observed and the finances are earmarked. These days with
more people struggling to make their retirement savings last through their
senior care years, it can be a means to ensure you have allocated funds
for death care. Funds put into a funeral insurance plan are not taken
into account when you are means-assessed for aid.
In Michigan licensed third
party sellers can sell preneed contracts. These contracts are funded
through Escrow accounts. You should revisit and revise your contract
every few years to ensure it still fully meets your needs. Do consider
that funeral prices can, and are, changing quite significantly right now.
In fact, more affordable options are coming on the market daily.
Do make sure that family are aware that you have a plan, and where the
details of it are kept.
The other option is to set
up a payable-on-death (POD) account, otherwise known as a Totten Trust.
You can deposit the funds required to cover your funeral expenses and make
a member of your family the beneficiary who can withdraw the funds on your
death. A benefit of this kind of trust is that it does not have to
go through probate.
What are the laws for
scattering ashes in Michigan?
It is legal to scatter ashes
on private land in Michigan so long as you have permission of the landowner.
Generally you can scatter on public lands so long as you pay due diligence
to common sense guidelines, but you should check whether there are any
permits required for National Park lands. There are 79 state parks
in Michigan so just check with the ordnance of the park before proceeding.
Some parks require a permit but do not charge for it.
It is also legal to scatter
ashes over water in Michigan, and being situated in the Great lakes area,
this is a popular choice for those who wish to scatter ashes. Lake
Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake St. Clair make a beautiful
location to carry out a water dispersment scattering ceremony. The
Clean Water Act by the Environmental Protection Agency is the legislation
that governs inland waters. As cremated remains are not considered a pollutant
and are sterile, there seems to be no specific legislation against them
being dispersed in the lakes, so long as the ashes are dispersed into the
water, or a biodegradable urn/scattering tube is used. Make sure
any petals or flowers or wreaths that are used are also fully degradable
with no plastic or metal ties. Michigan is within Region 5 of the
EPA and their main contact number is 312-353-2000.
and a simple memorial service,
$145 for the cremation or cemetery cost, and $100 towards the cost of a
burial vault. For a direct cremation or direct burial, SER will pay
$220 for the funeral director’s fees and the same amounts as above for
the crematory or cemetery. For a body donation within Michigan, the
SER will pay 32 cents per mile for transportation up to $176. For
an infant or fetus death (under 1 month old) SER pay $100 towards the funeral
director’s fee and $45 for a crematory or cemetery charge.
What help is available
with funeral expenses in Michigan?
In Michigan the State Emergency
Relief (SER) program funded by the Department of Human Services can provide
financial assistance with burial or cremation expenses if the deceased,
or their family, is needy and cannot afford a funeral. The family
must complete an application at the Human Services office in their county
within 10 days of the burial, cremation or donation. SER will pay
$455 for the expense of a funeral director
The deceased’s family may
still receive donations of up to $4,000 from friends and family and still
claim assistance, unless the total amount required for the funeral is covered
by donations. There are other forms of support available such as
veteran’s benefits, insurance premiums and social security benefits, and
SER will evaluate these options before paying out any claim. [These
figures were the prices quoted at the time of publishing in September 2012
and can vary depending on individual circumstances & available funds.
To check up-to-date figures visit: http://www.michigan.gov/dhs]
Are whole body donations
permitted in Michigan?
Yes, you may donate your body
to medical research in Michigan. There are three body donation programs
in the state:
You should consider that whilst
body donation is a very ethical and practical end-of-life choice, you must
understand that a donation is not always accepted, and it can take some
time before the cremated remains are returned to the family.
Wayne State University Body
Bequest Program – in most cases the deceased is collected/accepted at no
charge to the family
Michigan State University Willed
Body Program & University of Michigan Anatomical Donations Program
– both require that all transfers be handled by a licensed funeral home.
The costs for this depend upon the funeral home used, but range from $550
US Funerals Online is affiliated
with Medcure who offer a anatomical donation program nationwide with a
no cost cremation, and returning the cremated remains to the family.
Visit our Body Donation page to find
What do you do if your
loved one dies away from Michigan?
As we move around more, people
are sometimes passing away whilst away from Michigan, and family want to
bring them home for a funeral. The costs to ship a body, either domestically
or internationally, are expensive and can significantly add to your overall
funeral expenses. In many cases it may be easier and cheaper to arrange
a direct cremation at the place of death and conduct a service once the
cremated remains arrive back in Michigan. To understand more about
funeral shipping, or to speak with a mortuary
shipping adviser, visit our page on ‘dealing with a death away from
Where do I get a copy
of a death certificate from in Michigan?
The Michigan Office of Vital
Records is at 201 Townsend St, Capitol View Building, 3rd Floor, Lansing,
MI 48913. You can obtain a copy of a death certificate in person,
online or by mail. If you visit in person, they are open 8am – 5pm
but a request for a certificate must be received by 3pm for a same day
service. A copy of a death certificate costs $36.00 for the first
copy and $12.00 for each additional copy. If requesting by mail or
online there are additional charges.
What should you do if
you have a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?
If you should have a complaint
or grievance regarding services or products purchased from a licensed funeral
provider in Michigan, you can make a written complaint to:
Michigan Department of Labor
& Economic Growth
P O Box 30018
Lansing MI 48909
You can also contact the
Michigan Funeral Consumers Information Society (FCIS). They are a
volunteer, not-for-profit organization affiliated with the Funeral Consumers
Alliance that is dedicated to serving the rights of consumers in the death
Michigan Funeral Consumers
P.O. Box 24054
Detroit, MI 48224
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Last Revised: 01/20/2015
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