141. Frequently Asked Questions When Your Family Member is Deceased
143. Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family
144. Dialogue with Children About Death
145. Notifying Government and Financial Agencies
147. Credit Reporting Agency Notification
Insert letter once FAC is established
Important Information for Families
Welcome to the Family Assistance Center, a safe place for families of missing or deceased individuals to gather. Please be respectful of other families visiting the Family Assistance Center at all times. If at any time you have any questions, concerns, or requests do not hesitate to approach any staff member.
How do I Use the Family Resource Packet?
The Family Resource Packet is meant to provide you with information and resources to assist you in your time at the Family Assistance Center. At the end of the packet are several blank pages; throughout your time at the Family Assistance Center it might be helpful for you to take notes or write down any questions you may have. Because emotions run high at times like these, these notes can be helpful reminders. If you have any questions about the information in this packet or anything at the Family Assistance Center do not hesitate to approach any staff member.
Who Can Come to the Family Assistance Center?
Any member of the missing or deceased person’s “family” may attend the Family Assistance Center. “Family” may include any individual (family, friend, partner, distant relative) that considers them to be a part of the victim’s family, even if there is not a legal familiar relationship. This may include people other family members characterize as family.
Family Members Visiting the Family Assistance Center
All family members visiting the Family Assistance Center need to bring photo identification if possible. Upon entering the facility all family members will receive a unique badge. If a family representative wishes to prohibit the entry of specific family/friend, please inform the security team of your wishes. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to speak to any registration staff member.
Family Interviews and Family Liaison Teams
Your family will be assigned to a family liaison/chaplain. The family liaison teams are created to provide you with a core group of people that will always be available to answer any question or address any concerns. There are no differences between the teams or the staff members assigned each team. Please do not hesitate to approach any member of your or other teams if you have any questions.
Who is Legal Next of Kin?
Minnesota law clearly identifies who is in charge of the disposition of the body. The right to control a dead human body, including the location and conditions of final disposition, vests in, and the duty of final disposition of the body devolves upon, the following in the order of priority listed:
1) A person may plan for their own final disposition and have those wishes carried out; (These arrangements made in advance of need must be in writing, dated and witnessed.)
2) The person or persons appointed in a dated written instrument signed by the decedent. By definition, a written instrument includes, but is not limited to, a health care directive executed under chapter 145C. If there is a dispute involving more than one written instrument, a written instrument that is witnessed or notarized prevails over a written instrument that is not witnessed or notarized. However, a written instrument does not include a durable or nondurable power of attorney which terminates on the death of the principal pursuant to sections 523.08 and 523.09;
3) The spouse of the decedent;
4) The adult child or the majority of the adult children of the decedent. Keep in mind that, in the absence of actual knowledge to the contrary, a mortician may rely on instructions given by the child or children who represent that they are the sole surviving child, or that they constitute a majority of the surviving children;
5) The surviving parent or parents of the decedent, each having equal authority;
6) The adult sibling or the majority of the adult siblings of the decedent, provided that, in the absence of actual knowledge to the contrary, a mortician may rely on instructions given by the sibling or siblings who represent that they are the sole surviving sibling, or that they constitute a majority of the surviving siblings;
7) The adult grandchild or the majority of the adult grandchildren of the decedent. A mortician may rely on instructions given by a grandchild or grandchildren who represent that they are the only grandchild or grandchildren reasonably available to control final disposition of the decedent's remains or represent a majority of such grandchildren;
8) The grandparent or the grandparents of the decedent, each having equal authority;
9) The adult nieces and nephews of the decedent, or a majority of them, provided that, in the absence of actual knowledge to the contrary, a funeral director or mortician may rely on instructions given by a niece, nephew, or nieces or nephews who represent that they are the only niece, nephew, or nieces or nephews reasonably available to control final disposition of the decedent's remains or represent a majority of nieces and nephews reasonably available to control final disposition of the decedent's remains;
10) The person or persons who were acting as the guardians of the person of the decedent with authority to make health care decisions for the decedent at the time of death;
11) An adult who exhibited special care and concern for the decedent;
12) The person or persons respectively in the next degree of kinship in the order named by law to inherit the estate of the decedent; and
13) The appropriate public or court authority, as required by law.
Anyone may review the regulations on controlling the final disposition of a body and who has the duty to pay for the funeral in MN Statutes 149A.80.
If at any time you wish to have an interpreter present do not hesitate to ask any staff member. They will ensure you receive any services you need.
Missing Family Members
If your family member is missing it is possible that they have been taken to a healthcare facility or shelter. Staff from the Family Assistance Center will work with you to gather information about the whereabouts of your missing family member. Families are encouraged to continue to search for their family members through all available channels. You should continue checking with the missing person’s friends, school, work, neighbors, relatives, or anyone else who may know their whereabouts.
Identifying and Recovering Your Family Member
If it is determined that your family member is deceased and their body is currently in the custody of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, it’s important to understand that viewing is not possible until they have been taken to a private funeral home. Additional information will be provided by a representative of the Medical Examiner’s Office during the Family Briefing.
Should You Need a Funeral Home
The choice of a funeral home is entirely up to your family. You are welcome to contact the funeral home of your choice, whether it is local or out of state. If you chose to work with a funeral home out of state it is very common for funeral homes to contract with a local funeral home to deliver remains. If you have any questions or concerns about disposition arrangements please inform your Family Liaison.
Talking with the Media
There will be no media allowed within the Family Assistance Center, but you may be approached by the media outside of the Family Assistance Center. You are under no obligation to speak to the media. If you do not wish to speak to the media, remain silent or state that you have no comment. If you are being harassed by members of the media please inform a member of the Family Assistance Center staff or security team immediately. If you become aware of the presence of media inside the facility, immediately notify a security staff member.