Thursday, April 5, 2012

New law governing disposition of remains of deceased members of Armed Forces

The Governor has signed HB 4639, enacted as Public Act 63 (2012), amending the provisions of section 3206 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code regarding the disposition of the bodies of decedents who were members of the armed services. A new subsection (11) is added, to provide that the "designated person" has the authority to direct the disposition of the remains if
  • the decedent was a member of the armed forces, a reserve branch, or the Michigan national guard;
  • the decedent made a designation under a Federal statute or a "regulation, policy, directive, or instruction" of the Department of Defense;
  • the designated person is his or her surviving spouse, blood relative, or adoptive relative.
There is nothing in Public Act 63 that limits its applicability to service members who die in the line of duty. It could apply to a reservist who is killed in a motor vehicle accident or who dies of natural causes.

The procedure followed by the Defense Department is to have the member execute form DD-93, called "Record of Emergency Data", to identify the persons to be notified "if you become a casualty" and to designate beneficiaries for certain benefits. Under section 13a of the form, the member identifies a "person authorized to direct disposition" of his remains.

The purpose of Public Act 63 is thus to ensure that this form, if completed, will control in lieu of the other provisions of section 3206.

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