Financial and Legal Concerns After Pregnancy Loss

This page is intended to provide information and support following a pregnancy loss. For information about the death of an adult visit Grief Support Following the Death of a Loved One on UofMHealth.org. For information about the death of a child, visit Grief Support Upon the Death of a Child on MottChildren.org.

Paying for Final Arrangements

Families vary widely in how they experience pregnancy loss and choose final arrangements following the loss of a pregnancy in many different ways. For some it is the death of a son or daughter and the loss of a future. For others, it may solely be the loss of a pregnancy.  There is no single path for families to follow and we want to support your family’s preferences as we are able.  While we need to follow legal and hospital procedures, our goal is to be as supportive as possible with the choices you feel are most right for you.

The following are options to help you pay for final arrangements following a pregnancy loss.  Please know that at times there are limitations to what options are available given the gestational age of the pregnancy and how the loss occurredWe understand that it may be difficult to make these decisions.  Our medical and social work staff and our Women’s and Children’s Bereavement Program are available to help answer any questions you may have.

No-Cost Options for Burial and Cremation

Michigan Medicine Assisted Options: Michigan Medicine may help facilitate free options for burial, cremation, and pathology arrangements through partnerships with local funeral homes and cemetery.

Burial at Mott and VonVoigtlander Memorial Garden at Arborcrest Cemetery

Our Mott and VonVoigtlander Memorial Garden is located at Arborcrest Cemetery (2521 Glazier Way, Ann Arbor, MI  48105, 734-761-4572).  Simple burials in the memorial garden are offered at no charge to families during their regular business hours Monday-Friday. Simple burial means that the cemetery staff prepares the burial plot, places the burial box in the plot and covers the plot but there is no ceremony for the burial. 

Some families who chose to be present may recite a poem, read a spiritual piece or say some loving words. Some families also chose to leave mementos at the burial site.  Families are not able to select the location as burial plots are pre-arranged. Burials can occur with or without family present and a temporary marker is placed at the burial site.  While there is no charge for the burial, some families choose to have a permanent marker which is a cost to the family arranged directly with the cemetery.      

If a baby was non-live born, arrangements can be made for a direct burial from the hospital without having to work through a funeral home. If a baby was live born, a funeral home must be involved..

Cremation

Michigan Medicine works with a local funeral home to provide cremation at no charge to the family. These cremations are supported for pregnancy losses after 12 weeks gestation and older.  Cremations at earlier gestational ages do not provide cremains. If you are interested in learning more about this option, you may speak with your social worker or contact the Children’s and Women’s Bereavement Program by calling 734-615-3122.

Pathology

If you do not wish to make private arrangements for cremation or burial through a funeral home, the hospital can arrange for a cremation though pathology for a non-live birth only. There is no charge for this plan. However, if you choose this option, Michigan Medicine will not be able to return to remains to you.

Variable Cost Options

Funeral Home of Your Choice: You may decide to use a funeral home you’ve worked with before or one that is closer to your home. You can call any funeral home of your choosing and ask to speak to a funeral director. Funeral directors also often know about local resources and may be able to provide direction on seeking this financial support. It is not unloving to ask if they have free and reduced rates available for you. Many funeral homes provide discounted services to families when making arrangements for an early loss.

If a baby was non-live born, arrangements can be made for a direct burial from the hospital without having to work through a funeral home. If a baby was live born, a funeral home must be involved.  

For additional information on things to think about in deciding on arrangements, visit our Remembering Your Pregnancy page.

Financial Resources to Consider

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

DHHS offers emergency burial money to go towards the expenses of a funeral or cremation for a pregnancy loss, but generally does not cover the full amount. To see if you qualify, please contact your local county DHHS office before the burial or cremation takes place.  DHHS will not reimburse families for these expenses, so it is important to apply as quickly as possible. Download the Application for State Emergency Relief here.

Family, Friends, and Community

Contact family and friends, as well as clergy from local religious institutions, co-workers, community groups, or even a medical related support group. Some families use online crowdfunding platforms to raise money for a funeral.

Funeral Consumer Information Society

The Funeral Consumer Information Society's Michigan Branch can provide support particularly for low-income families. The Michigan society is part of a national organization that can provide information on resources available to help cover funeral costs. The organization can also provide information on ways to save money on funeral homes, caskets and plots and provide information on the prices a family can expect to pay them as well as answering other questions that may come up. Visit the Funeral Consumer Information Society website.

Ike and Ella Fund

The Ike and Ella Fund is a 501(C)3 charity that provides financial support to assist parents who have experienced the loss of a child to cover funeral, cremation, and burial expenses. Of note, this is a Christian organization. Visit the Ike and Ella Fund website.

The TEARS Foundation

The TEARS Foundation seeks to compassionately lift a financial burden from families who have lost a child by providing funds to assist with the cost of burial or cremation services. The TEARS Foundation pays the funeral home and/or cemetery directly and there must be an outstanding balance in order to receive assistance.  Visit the TEARS Foundation website.

Documents and Taxes

Birth Certificate

Birth certificates are completed only when a baby was live born. Documentation for the birth certificate is typically completed by the parent(s) with Vital Records at the hospital prior to the mother’s discharge. Call the Vital Records office at the hospital 734-936-7481 if you have questions about how to receive the certificate. 

Babies who were stillborn do not receive a birth certificate, but can receive a Certificate of Remembrance from Von Voigtlander Hospital. Contact the Children’s and Women’s Bereavement Program if you would like to request a Certificate 734-615-3122

Death Certificate

If a baby was live born and has died, a Death Certificate needs to be completed. It is the responsibility of the funeral director the family is working with to have the death certificate filed. The funeral director will assist with the process and give you an idea of the number of copies you will need. There is a cost for the certified death certificate, but it is typically less to order certificates through the funeral home than through the County Clerk’s office at a later time. 

If you need additional certified copies, you can obtain them from the County Clerk’s Office in the county in which the baby died. Michigan Medicine is located in Washtenaw County. The Washtenaw County Clerk/ Register of Deeds Office can be contacted at 734-222-6720 or https://www.washtenaw.org/283/Death-Certificates. There is a cost for each certificate.

Social Security Number

If your baby was stillborn, a social security number is not available.  

If your baby was live born, you can choose to apply for a social security number for the baby.  Some families choose to obtain a social security number for their baby as another way to validate the life of their baby. Some families choose to obtain a social security number for their baby as they are able to claim their baby as a dependent when taxes are filed the year the baby was born and died. 

Please be aware that as you access information about obtaining a social security number, the information available is written from the standpoint of a living baby.  The information provided can be difficult for bereaved families to read as it does not account for families who have had a baby die. 

If you have specific questions, Contact Social Security Administration Customer Service 800-772-1213 or you may find the link to their website here.

Taxes

If your baby is stillborn, they are not able to be claimed as a depended on a tax return. 

If your baby was live born and is a “qualifying child” during the year, claiming the baby on your tax return is generally allowed. Please seek the advice of a professional tax preparer to understand your family’s eligibility.

Contact Us

The Office of Decedent Affairs (ODA) is part of the Michigan Medicine Department of Social Work. The ODA is the centralized point of contact at Michigan Medicine for ongoing questions and concerns before, during, and after the death of a loved one. The Children’s and Women’s Bereavement Program is part of ODA.

To contact the Office of Decedent Affairs, call 734-232-4919 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may also email the ODA office at SocWk-ODA@med.umich.edu.