funeral or cremation can be a daunting and emotional task. There
are so many decisions to be made and you can be overwhelmed by this, especially
if a death has already occurred.
This brief guide to arranging
a funeral or cremation in New Mexico aims to provide a starting point and
give you an overview of some of the main things you need to consider, including
New Mexico funeral legislation rules. Whilst the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) does govern how funeral homes operate, this is superseded by New
Mexico state law.
Who is responsible for making
the funeral arrangements in New Mexico?
New Mexico law determines who
can make the funeral arrangements [New Mexico Statutes § 45-3-701].
This is determined as:
1. your surviving spouse
(if you have not filed for divorce)
2. a majority of your adult
3. your parents
4. a majority of your siblings
5. a responsible adult who
has played a significant role in your care, who understands your disposition
wishes and is willing to carry out your funeral wishes
6. your next living kin
[Statute § 24-12A-2]
more contemporary life celebration
service, or a cremation? Is the cost of the funeral an issue, are
you working to a tight budget and looking to save money where you can on
funeral expenses? Do you want the services of a Spanish-speaking
funeral home? Obviously having some clear ideas of what you do need
from a funeral home helps you make the decision of which funeral home is
right for you. Our funeral home directory can help you to locate
the funeral homes near you.
Choosing a funeral home in New
One of the first things to do,
especially if a death has just occurred, is to choose a funeral home to
handle the funeral services. All funeral homes in New Mexico are
licensed by the New Mexico State Regulation & Licensing Department
Board of Funeral Services.
There are in the region of
80 funeral homes and mortuaries in New Mexico. Selecting a funeral
service provider can be determined by both your location and what kind
of funeral services you require. Are you looking for a traditional funeral
or burial service? Or are you seeking a
Families often seek recommendations
from family or friends, and this is a very good way to get information.
However, funeral costs are probably the primary reason why many families
are now seeking out alternative options to their local funeral home.
If you are concerned about arranging an affordable funeral our DFS Memorials
providers in New Mexico offer dignified and inexpensive funerals and cremations.
What does an average funeral
cost in New Mexico?
The average cost of a funeral
in the U.S. is $7,045 (according to the NFDA - National Association of
Funeral Directors 2012), and this does not include any cemetery fees.
This generally means that the full cost of a funeral can amount to nearer
to $9,000 when cemetery fees are included. The cost for a funeral
can be broken down into several components – the funeral director’s professional
service charges, casket, embalming, transportation and ancillary costs
such as flowers, music, prayer cards, obituary etc. However, you
can arrange a traditional funeral for half this cost in Las Cruces.
The DFS Memorials provider for Las Cruces offers a complete funeral (including
casket and cemetery plot) for $3,995.
All funeral homes in New
Mexico must have a general price list (GPL) that outlines their service
charges and funeral merchandise prices. They must provide a copy
of their GPL when they quote you a price according to the Federal Trade
Commission’s ‘The Funeral Rule’. When arranging a funeral you often
end up with a range of charges from the GPL in an a la carte style, and
this can result in a cost higher then you first imagined. Sometimes
choosing a funeral package, which offers an inclusive service and pricing,
can help you manage your overall funeral expenses.
It is recommended that you
DO shop around and compare funeral prices between more than one funeral
home. That way you can be sure that you have a “best value” funeral
Who is responsible to pay for
funeral costs in New Mexico?
Generally a person has 2 options
– to prepay and preplan a funeral or leave enough money for surviving family
to pay for the funeral. If neither of these options have been put
in place, then surviving family is liable for the funeral bill. Check
out our Library article on ‘What is my best and safest option for putting
aside money for a funeral?’
How much does a cremation cost
in New Mexico?
A typical cremation funeral
service will cost in the region of $3,200 (depending upon the ancillary
services/products you select). This is the type of cremation service
that replaces a full traditional funeral. It is possible to arrange
a cremation for considerably less than this.
Arranging a direct cremation
in New Mexico
This is the least expensive
cremation option for families. A direct cremation means that there
are no services, the cremation goes ahead once all the documentation has
been completed and then the cremated remains are returned to the family
in a temporary container. Incremental options, such as a private
family viewing or an upgraded cremation urn, can be added to a basic direct
cremation package for an additional fee. A direct cremation in Las
Cruces can be conducted for $750 and in Albuquerque direct cremation prices
start at $895.
Low cost cremations in New Mexico
DFS Memorials does serve the
main cities in New Mexico offering simple, low cost cremations to help
families who cannot afford a funeral.
How do I decide between a burial
or a cremation in New Mexico?
Choosing between burial or cremation
is very much a personal choice. The deceased may have left
explicit wishes or surviving family may have to make a decision.
Faith and/or funds for the funeral service can play a significant role
in whether a burial or cremation is chosen. Having a pre-existing
cemetery plot can be an important aspect as burial plots can be quite expensive
to purchase these days. Cremation is certainly on the increase in
the United States, and is becoming a popular funeral alternative for many
now. Green burials are also another option that can be considered.
If you are unsure whether
to choose between burial or cremation, talk to family and friends, and
discuss the decision with your funeral director. Just be aware that
a funeral director is running a business, and may not always have a completely
How do cremation laws in New
Mexico affect arranging a cremation?
Each state has its own laws
governing cremation procedures. A crematory and/or funeral home must
abide by certain practice standards in disposing of human remains by cremation.
However, certain regulations can vary by state. In New Mexico a cremation
can only be performed once a ‘Cremation Authorization Form’ has been signed
by the legal next of kin and the coroner has issued the cremation permit.
The permit is issued by the state medical investigator to a licensed funeral
director. There is no mandatory waiting period for cremation in New
Mexico. A casket is NOT required by law for a cremation. All
that is required is a suitable rigid container. A cremation container
is usually a reinforced cardboard or plywood box.
What can I do with cremated
remains – laws for ash scattering in New Mexico
As more families are turning
to cremation as a lower cost funeral alternative, the question arises about
what to do with the cremated remains? Cremation ashes can be interred
in a dedicated cemetery (just as a body can) in a cremation niche or an
existing grave plot. (Do bear in mind there may be opening and closing
fees to open an existing family grave plot.) Alternatively the ashes
can be scattered.
You can scatter ashes on
private property (with the landowners consent). If you wish to scatter
ashes on public land, you can generally do so unless it is on land requiring
a permit. In New Mexico you do require a permit to scatter ashes on State
Parkland. Requirements of a permit are: the remains to be scattered
must have been cremated and pulverized and the scattering of cremated remains
on the ground is to be performed at least 100 yards from any trail, road,
developed facility, or body of water. You should observe common sense
guidelines for ash scattering as outlined in our ash scattering section.
The cremated remains of more than one person cannot be commingled unless
a scattering is being conducted by air, in water or at sea.
Aerial ash scattering is
available in New Mexico where a loved one’s remains can be cast into eternity
over beautiful landscapes. Prices for an aerial ash scattering range
between $350 - $750.
Does the deceased have to be
embalmed in New Mexico?
There is no legal requirement,
or New Mexico law, stipulating that you have to have the deceased embalmed.
However, either embalming or refrigeration is required if the disposition
does not proceed within 24 hours. [New Mexico Statutes § 61-32-20]
Therefore, you do have choices, and if you do not wish for embalming you
need to have a timely funeral or a cremation. You may also wish to
check, when consulting funeral homes that they can offer refrigeration
storage and what the daily cost is.
Some funeral homes do adopt
policies that insist upon embalming if a public viewing or service is being
held with the deceased in repose.
Can I conduct a home funeral
in New Mexico?
Conducting your own ‘home funeral’
is a very personal way of saying goodbye. It is perfectly legal in
the majority of U.S. States, including New Mexico. A permit is required
for authorization of a final disposition. A burial-transit permit
must be issued by the state registrar or a local registrar when final disposition
is being made by a person other than a funeral service practitioner or
direct disposer. [New Mexico Stature § 24-14-23]
If you wish to bury your
loved one at home on your own land and establish a family cemetery, you
must first check with the County Clerk about any local zoning. You would
need to draw up a map of of the property showing the burial ground and
file it with the property deed.
A grave marker cannot ordinarily
be erected until some months after a burial. This allows the earth
to settle and ensures that once erected the headstone will not subside.
Cemeteries generally have their own regulations that dictate what is allowed
in terms of types of grave markers. It is wise to carefully check
the cemetery rules before purchasing a memorial marker. However,
you should not have to purchase a marker from the cemetery if you do not
Purchasing a casket or grave
marker in New Mexico
You have the right to purchase
your casket from elsewhere than the funeral home, and your funeral home
MUST accept it without charging you any handling fee. (This is federal
law according to the FTC Funeral Rule). You can also build your own
casket/coffin if you wish. Now that third-party casket retailers
can offer discounted caskets, it has brought funeral home casket prices
down somewhat. A basic steel casket starts at around $1,195.
How do I get the death certificate
in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, a death certificate
needs be filed with the local registrar within five days after the death.
[New Mexico Statutes § 24-14-20.] Typically, the funeral home or the
individual in charge of the deceased person’s remains will prepare and
file the death certificate. The fee for a certified copy of a death
certificate is $5.00, and you may need multiple copies if you need to close
the deceased’s estate. Copies can be obtained from New Mexico Vital
Records, Post Office Box 25767, Albuquerque, NM 87125 by mail or you can
apply online or in person. You must produce certain identification
documents. Further information can be found at http://vitalrecordsnm.org/death.shtml
not as fixed as they once were.
With the growth in cremation, the cost for a funeral could actually be
coming down. Any funds invested into a funeral contract are put into
a trust fund.
Can I pre-plan a funeral in
Yes, and pre-planning your funeral
alleviates family of both the difficult decisions and the financial burden
of funeral expenses. You can make pre-need funeral arrangements direct
with a funeral home or purchase burial insurance.
What you DO need to consider
is how safely you are investing your money. Although purchasing a
funeral plan may secure your funeral wishes, funeral prices are
Another funeral planning
alternative is to document your wishes and put aside the appropriate funds
in a POD Payable on Death account or a Totten Trust. This enables
family to access the funds at the time of need and make the funeral arrangements,
but you keep in control of your monies and any accrued interest.
Read more in our article ‘What is my best and safest option for putting
aside money for a funeral’.
Veterans Funerals in New Mexico
Veterans are entitled to certain
benefits – namely a free cemetery plot, grave marker and US flag.
A copy of the DD214 discharge papers are required to claim these benefits
and you would need to contact the local VA office. In many cases
the funeral director will assist you with this, or undertake it on your
behalf. The VA cemeteries in Fort Bayard and Sante Fe have space
for both casketed and cremated remains.
Can I donate my body to science
in New Mexico?
Yes, donating your body to science
can be a great way to take care of your disposition without any funeral
expenses. Most of the national organizations that deal with full
body donation handle everything from the moment you notify them of the
death, including collecting the body, the donation, the free cremation
and the return of the cremated remains to the family a few weeks later.
It is worth noting that a donation cannot always be accepted at the time
of death, so you should have an alternative plan in reserve. Check
out our Body Donation section.
The deceased had no life insurance
– what do I do if I cannot afford a funeral?
If you find yourself liable
to make funeral arrangements for a lost loved one, and you do not have
sufficient funds, this can be very distressing. There is very limited
financial aid for funerals and this varies by County. In such cases
the coroner may make arrangements with a funeral home and costs should
not exceed the actual minimal cost of a burial or cremation. Generally
a fixed amount is set that the County or state will pay for pauper burial
assistance. The state is responsible for the disposition of indigents
or any individual who becomes a responsibility of New Mexico. You
need to contact your local County human services or social services to
find out what help may be available. The expenses for the burial
or cremation of an indigent person paid by the county out of the general
fund is the amount of one $100 for the burial of any adult or minor over
the age of 65 and $75 for the burial of any minor up to the age of 6 years.
[New Mexico Stature §24-13-3]
A simple cremation is the
least expensive disposition option.
How can I transport a loved
one either back to, or from, New Mexico after death?
If a loved one needs to be transported
following their death, you will need the services of a funeral director
who can arrange funeral shipping for you. This generally needs a
funeral professional who can coordinate arrangements at the place of death
and wherever the body is being shipped to.
Certain regulations do apply
on moving a body, embalming and a transit permit are required as well as
specific containers to hold the casket. The deceased can only be
transported in a “closed vehicle designed exclusively for the transportation
of dead human bodies” [Statute 51 §107] Shipping
a body can be quite expensive, so the other alternative you have is to
have the body cremated at the place of death, and then transport back the
cremated remains. Cremated remains can be shipped through the US
Postal Service for between $40 - $75.
Visit our section on Funeral
Shipping to find out more.
Who should I contact if I have
a complaint about a funeral home in New Mexico?
Hopefully you will find the
services of your funeral home more than adequate, as most funeral professionals
are very dedicated in their vocation. Unfortunately though, it does
sometimes happen that you may have a complaint or grievance with a funeral
home and you do not manage to resolve it directly with the funeral director.
In this case you should make your complaint in writing to the New Mexico
State Regulation & Licensing Department Board of Funeral Services who
regulate and license funeral businesses in New Mexico. They can be
Board of Funeral Services
Toney Anaya Building
2550 Cerrillos Road, Second
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Phone: (505) 476-4622
I hope this guide has helped
to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our
Library/info section for our full catalogue of resources to help you through
the process of arranging a funeral. Feel free to contact us if we
can be of any assistance with any further questions you may have.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Published: March 18th 2014
Homes in New Mexico
Cost Funeral & Cremation Providers in New Mexico