When wages or fringe benefits are owed to a deceased employee and the employee has not arranged with the employer for some specific beneficiary, these funds must be paid directly to the employee's surviving spouse (MI Comp. Laws Sec. 408.480). If there is no surviving spouse, the funds must be paid in the following order of priority:
• Surviving children
• Surviving parents
• Surviving siblings
If the employee has named a beneficiary in a signed statement filed with the employer and probate proceedings are not required for the employee's estate, the employer must make the disbursement directly to the designated person.
Payment under this law discharges all of the employer's wage and salary obligations to the employee. If problems develop in determining who should receive payment, or if some claim has been made against the funds by anyone, employers should contact the local court of probate for instructions.
There is more information on grief management, helping employees following the death of a co-worker, and coping with the loss of a family member.
Last reviewed on May 8, 2017.