process is still something that is little discussed in our culture until
the need arises, and then we are faced with a sometimes-overwhelming task.
This article aims to give you an overview of the process of arranging a
funeral or cremation in New York State, give you some direction in where
to start, and answer some of the legality questions about making funeral
arrangements in New York.
can be quite a task. Apart
from US Funerals Online, there is an assortment of different funeral home
directories. The important thing is to try and decide on some key
criteria to narrow your search down. Do you have something special
in mind for the funeral ceremony? Do you want a traditional burial, a cremation
or a more contemporary celebration service? Do you have a budget
in mind? Just having a clear outline of your specific requirements
can help you when contacting funeral providers to inquire about their services.
How do I choose a funeral service
provider in New York?
This is generally one of the
first things that families think about when a death has occurred.
If you have prior experience with a funeral service provider, then this
can be a straight-forward decision, but if not it can be daunting deciding
where to start. There are some 1700 funeral homes and mortuaries
in New York, and in the region of some 600 cemeteries, crematories, and
This can mean that locating
a funeral home in New York
New York State Department
of Health provides a helpful consumer guide, and many of the important
aspects of legislation about funerals, cremations and the disposition of
human remains are included here. The New York State Funeral Directors
Association also provides consumers with information to help you choose
a funeral home and make end-of-life decisions.
Funeral prices are one of
the main reasons that some families are researching online today.
So let’s talk about funeral costs in New York.
What is the average cost of
a funeral in New York?
The average price of a funeral
in New York these days can amount to in excess of $8,000, and this can
be a complete financial burden to those arranging a funeral service if
no pre-planning for funeral expenses were in place. This cost does
not take into account cemetery plot costs. The purchase of a cemetery
plot or grave space in New York can vary significantly depending upon the
area. Cemetery plots in and around New York City can be excessively
expensive due to the premium of available green space. An option
is to consider the purchase of a cemetery plot being re-sold by someone
who had purchased a plot but no longer requires it. However you MUST
ensure you have a cemetery deed, which is the document that determines
your legal right to the cemetery plot.
This means that a traditional
funeral service involving a burial in New York can amount to a cost in
excess of $10,000. However, more affordable funeral options are available
and cremation is fast becoming a preferred means of disposition to those
working on a budget, or choosing not to opt for a traditional burial.
cremation varies between $150
and almost $400. Not all funeral service providers include the cremation
fee in their quoted direct cremation service package, so be sure to check
this. As it is a fee paid to a third party (the crematory) it can
be considered a cash advance item and added to your funeral bill.
How much does a cremation cost
in New York?
Cremation is growing in popularity
in the U.S., largely as it proves much more affordable than a traditional
burial. A simple cremation can be carried out in some areas of New
York State for just over $700. The price of a cremation does vary
depending on the local area, and the crematory fee. A cremation can
be a simple disposition with no service, the ashes returned to the family,
who can then organize a memorial service themselves. Or it can be
as elaborate as a traditional funeral just the difference being the cremation
of the casket and deceased as opposed to a burial. A full service
cremation service is likely to cost in the region of $2,500 to $4,000.
New York has 47 crematories
and the cost for a
Because the prices from different
funeral service providers can vary quite significantly – for the exact
same service – it is imperative that you compare prices. Ensure that
you are comparing like for like funeral services before committing to a
Know your rights: Funeral laws
in New York
All funeral homes in New York
are required by law to provide you with a General Price List that clearly
lists the prices for all their services. A funeral home should provide
you with information about all the services available to you, but at no
time should pressure you into a sale. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC)
‘Funeral Rule’ is there to protect you as a funeral consumer, so
ensure you equip yourself with the knowledge about what your rights are.
Can I conduct a home funeral
in New York?
In New York State only a registered,
licensed funeral director can carry out funeral arrangements for the death
care of a deceased person. The funeral director will file the death
certificate and make the necessary arrangements, in accordance with family
wishes, for the disposition of the deceased. New York is one of only
8 states that do legally require you to employ the basic services of a
What do I need to understand
about cremation laws in New York?
Each state has its own legislation
that governs funeral practice. New York has some very strict laws.
A crematory must abide by certain practice standards in disposing of human
remains by cremation. In New York a cremation can only be performed
once a ‘Cremation Authorization Form’ has been signed by the legal next
of kin and the medical examiner has issued the cremation permit. Generally
there is a mandatory waiting period of 24 hours before a cremation can
proceed but this is not enforced in New York. That being said, it
usually takes about 3 days to make all the necessary arrangements and complete
the paperwork but an expedited service can be arranged if required.
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. If you wish to hold a funeral service before
the cremation, some funeral homes offer rental caskets.
Who Can Authorize a Cremation
or Burial in New York
State law designates that an
“agent” appointed to control the disposition of remains by written instrument
has priority to control the disposition. After that the priority
is given to:
With the increase in the divorce
rate and the growing number of second marriages and stepchildren, the benefit
of appointing an agent or pre-sign your own authorisation for cremation
form, to ensure that your disposition wishes are carried out without
any family disagreements.
Any of the decedent's surviving
children over the age of 18
Either of the decedent's parents
Any of the decedent's surviving
siblings (brothers or sisters) over the age of 18
A guardian appointed pursuant
to Article 17 or Article 17-a of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act (SCPA)
or Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law
The duly appointed fiduciary
of the decedent's estate
Close friend or other relative
who is reasonably familiar with the decedent's wishes, including his or
her religious or moral beliefs, when no one higher on the list is available,
willing, or competent to act; (Note: This person must complete an "At-Need
Written Statement of Person Having the Right to Control Disposition" form)
Who is responsible for paying
for the funeral expenses?
There are basically 2 options
– either you preplan and prepay for your funeral expenses, or surviving
family will become liable for your disposition costs. You do not
have to formally set up a funeral contract with a funeral service provider,
but can make adequate provision by putting funds aside in a POD account
in order that the person who will arrange your funeral can access this
fund immediately upon the death. You can read more about this in
is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral?’.
Prepayment Funeral Plans in
Preplanning and prepaying a
funeral can enable you to take the financial burden from surviving family
and also ensure your own wishes are clearly met. State law regulates
pre-need funeral plans in New York.
How do I obtain a certified
copy of a death certificate in New York?
The funeral home will usually
obtain the necessary death certificates for you as part of their services.
They can only charge you the actual fee, which is $15 in New York City
and $10 or less in the rest of New York State. You will need certified
copies to formally register the death of the deceased with government institutions,
banks and insurance companies, etc.
Does the deceased have to be
embalmed in New York?
A body does not have to be embalmed
according to New York State law. However, some funeral homes will
stipulate that embalming is required dependent on certain services.
For example if an open casket viewing or service is performed, or if a
body is being transported across state lines.
Purchasing a casket in New York
You do NOT have to use a casket
according to New York State legislation. You DO require a “suitable
container”, and the law allows for this to be an unfinished wooden box
or “alternative container” made from other composition materials, canvas,
cardboard or pressed wood. Although grave liners and/or burial vaults
are NOT required by state law, some New York cemeteries do stipulate that
they require them to prevent the ground sinking around a cemetery plot.
It is strongly advised that you check a cemetery’s requirements before
committing to purchase a cemetery plot.
What can we do with the cremated
remains? Laws for ash scattering in New York
In New York, there are no state
laws that stipulate where you may keep or scatter ashes. Cremated
remains can be stored in a crypt, niche, grave, or in a container at home.
If you wish to scatter ashes, you have many options. Cremation renders
ashes harmless, so there is no public health risk involved in scattering
ashes, they are basically sterile, organic matter. Use common sense and
refrain from scattering ashes in places where they would be obvious to
Scattering on private land
requires the landowners consent, and it is wise to check local ordnance
zoning if you wish to scatter on public lands. If you wish to scatter
off the coast or out of New York Harbor you need to bear in mind EPA regulations.
A burial at sea should be 3 nautical miles out and a written notification
provided to the local EPA representative within 30 days.
Burial At Sea Coordinator,
US EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007 Phone: (212) 637-3796
If you wish to scatter ashes
on land such as a state park, you should check if the park in question
has any rules about permits required for ash-scattering.
Culturally diverse Funerals
in New York
New York has a rich, vibrant
multicultural community and as such there are a diverse set of funeral
traditions and customs practiced in New York. Be it traditional Irish
Wakes, African-American Home-goings, Jewish funerals or Buddhist ceremonies,
there is a funeral services provider meeting all these needs. If
you have particular faith or custom requirements, be sure to check around
and find out which providers can accommodate your needs.
Veteran’s funerals in New York
A veteran and certain dependents
are entitled to certain benefits. This is primarily a free cemetery
plot, grave marker and U.S. flag. Certain funeral homes will also
offer discounted funeral services to veterans. The VA cemetery in
Brooklyn/Cypress Hills is now closed to new interments and the ones in
Elmira and Farmingdale are open for new interments of cremated remains
only. The ones in Bath, Calverton, Romulus, and Schulyerville all have
space for both casketed and cremated remains. To find out more about
entitlements for veteran’s benefits contact your local VA office.
When a Death Occurs Outside
of New York
If a loved one dies away from
his/her home in New York, you may wish to arrange to have the body collected
and returned to New York for disposition. Also with its huge immigrant
population, many of those who settled in New York aspire to be returned
to their homeland upon their death. Transporting a body internationally
can be quite complex but frequently happens. Visit our page on Funeral
Shipping for more information on domestic and international transfers.
Ground transportation can also be an option if the deceased is within the
U.S. In many cases it is often easier and more cost-effective to
arrange a cremation wherever your loved one died and then transport the
ashes to or from New York.
body to science and the benefit
of future generations. They arrange the collection of the deceased,
medical donation, cremation of remains and return of cremains to the family
usually at no charge. There are also a number of Universities and
Medical Schools in New York that operate whole body donation programs.
Can I donate my body to science
in New York?
Donating your body to medical
science has been an end-of-life choice around for some time now, however,
it has certainly gained more popularity in recent times. For many
it now seems a valuable disposition method hence why it is commonly referred
to as an “anatomical gift”. MedCure is a national organization that
offers an anatomical gift program whereby you can donate your
services at a time and place
that suits family members. This does not have to be at a funeral
home or place of worship, it can be anywhere you may choose.
Finding a low cost cremation
provider in New York
With 76% of Americans living
paycheck to paycheck today (CNN October 2013) and 35% now in debt recovery,
it is understandable why more families are looking to lower cost funeral
alternatives. It can be difficult enough to lose a loved one, without
being faced with the unexpected cost of making funeral arrangements.
The least expensive funeral
option is a direct cremation. This is a simple cremation with no
services or viewing. Contact your nearest DFS Memorials provider
to access low cost cremation or burial services near you. A direct
cremation can deal with the immediate disposition in a timely and cost-effective
manner. Family can then arrange their own memorial
What help is there for those
on low income with funeral costs in New York?
New York City provides a Burial
Financial Assistance program to low-income New York City residents.
If qualifying a resident can claim up to $900 in financial assistance to
help pay for a funeral. The funeral expenses in total must not exceed
An application must be made
to the Human Resources Administration within 60 days of the death of the
individual for whom the financial assistance is required to pay for the
The application form for
financial assistance for funeral costs in NYC can be found here.
There is also a $255 lump
sum death benefit payment available from Social Security for those that
qualify. Your funeral director will generally submit this claim on
For further information on
how you can pay for a funeral if you have limited funds, visit our article
on ‘What to do if
you cannot afford a funeral’.
If you have a complaint about
how a funeral was conducted in New York
If have a grievance with a funeral
home in New York and they do not resolve it to your satisfaction, you may
take up your complaint with the New York State Department of Health.
You must file a complaint in writing to:
New York State Department
Bureau of Funeral Directing
Hedley Park Place
433 River Street Suite 303
Troy, New York 12180
Hopefully this guide has
answered some of your immediate questions. Arranging a funeral is
no easy task and there are many decisions to be made, often when you feel
incapable of making decisions. Please check out our Library/Info
section where you will find a catalogue of other articles to assist you
through the funeral planning process.
||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.
cost funerals and cremations in New York
Last Revised: 09/03/2014
Homes in New York