Michigan Home Funeral Laws

Learn the rules that govern home funerals in Michigan.

Michigan is one of only a handful of states that restrict home funerals by requiring the involvement of a licensed funeral director in many aspects of final arrangements. Here is an overview of the rules that govern home funerals in Michigan.

You Must Use a Funeral Director in Michigan

By law, a licensed funeral director must oversee the final disposition of a body in Michigan. State law says that the “handling, disposition, or disinterment of a body shall be under the supervision of a person licensed to practice mortuary science in the state.” (Michigan Compiled Laws § 700.3206 (2018).)

Who Makes Decisions About Body Disposition and Funeral Arrangements?

Although a funeral director must carry out disposition arrangements, the right to make final decisions about a person’s body and funeral services usually goes to a relative of the deceased person. Under Michigan law, this responsibility goes first to the deceased person’s surviving spouse, and after that to family members in an established order.

To learn the rules and the exact order of priority, see Making Funeral Arrangements in Michigan.

Must the Body Be Embalmed?

Michigan requires embalming under specific circumstances, such as when:

For more information, see the pamphlet published by the Michigan Funeral Consumers Information Society, called Michigan-Specific Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Information Pertaining to After Death Care and Disposition.

Getting a Death Certificate

The person in charge of filing the death certificate must do so within 72 hours of the death. (Michigan Compiled Laws § 333.2843 (2018).)

You will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out certain tasks after the death, such as transferring the deceased person’s property to inheritors. The funeral director who files the death certificate should be able to order copies for you.

Getting a Permit to Transport the Body

After filing the death certificate, the funeral director will obtain the necessary permits for transporting the body, and for burial or cremation. In Michigan, the transport permit is called a “permit for disposition.” (Michigan Compiled Laws § 333.2848 (2018).)

Can You Bury a Body at Home?

Michigan law permits the establishment of private burial grounds of less than one acre in size outside city or village limits. (Michigan Compiled Laws § 128.111 (2018).) The property must be surveyed and recorded in the county register’s office; the land will then be exempt from taxation. (Michigan Compiled Laws § 128.112 (2018).)

Before conducting a home burial or creating a family cemetery, you will need a permit from the local health department and zoning approval.

What About Cremation?

You must arrange cremation through a funeral director, who will obtain the required permit from the medical examiner. (Michigan Compiled Laws § 333.2848 (2018).)

For more information about cremation, including information on scattering ashes, see Burial and Cremation Laws in Michigan.

Learn More About Home Funerals

To find out more about home funerals, visit the National Home Funeral Alliance website. The book Final Rights, by Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson, also offers extensive information on the subject.

For more information about final arrangements and documenting your final wishes in advance, see Nolo’s section on Getting Your Affairs in Order.

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