|Death is still
a subject rarely discussed in our culture today. Yet it is a fact
of life and something many people suddenly find themselves facing, without
ever having openly considered what the death-care process is. It
can be overwhelming knowing just where to start when there are so many
decisions to be made, and often time is of the essence.
This guide should help you
through the process, whether you have an immediate need to make arrangements
or you are pre-planning funeral services. We address questions such
as how to select a funeral services provider, how much to expect to pay
for a funeral and additional information to help you to understand what
your legal rights are as a funeral consumer.
If the death is sudden and/or
the deceased had no funeral plan or life insurance, you may need to make
some fairly quick decisions about how to proceed.
What do I do when a death occurs?
The decisions you need to make
when a death occurs can seem very daunting. When a person dies in
New York City, the determination of death must be made by the attending
physician or the coroner. Most people [nearly 70%] pass in a hospital
or within a care environment such as a hospice or nursing home. In
these cases the death is automatically determined and declared. If
a death does occur at home, you would need to call the emergency services,
a physician or coroner to declare the death.
If the deceased had a prepaid
funeral plan, or had expressed wishes, these can be implemented immediately
and you will need to locate the paperwork and contact the appropriate funeral
home or cremation provider.
If the death has occurred
at a hospital, they will generally transfer the deceased to the hospital
morgue where the body can be held whilst you decide which funeral service
provider you wish to handle arrangements for you. Sometimes the family
will rush to call a funeral home to collect the deceased, and later realize
they may have chosen a different funeral services provider if they had
a little more time to consider their choices.
Locating Funeral Homes and Cremation
Providers in NYC - Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens & Staten Island
NYC is a densely populated area
and there around 100 Funeral Service Providers in New York City alone.
All funeral homes in the 5 boroughs must be licensed by the New York Bureau
of Funeral Directing who serve to protect the public by legislating the
death care business in New York City. New York has quite strict funeral
laws and rules, which do offer some consumer protection but can also sometimes
Funeral Service Providers
in New York City do not operate crematories, instead they use the services
of a licensed crematory. There are 5 main crematories that serve
the NYC area, and these are listed below with the respective charges for
a cremation. The cost for a cremation differs between each crematory.
For this reason most cremation providers in the city advertise a cremation
price that does NOT include the crematory fee (as it is considered a “third-party”
fee). This can mean that some cremation prices advertised are not
as inexpensive as they seem. Be sure to check that any funeral price or
funeral quote you obtain is a complete price. We have outlined below
what you can expect in costs for a funeral or cremation in NYC.
How much does a funeral cost
in New York City?
Funeral homes are required to
provide current retail price information by telephone. According to the
law, any consumer entering a funeral home and making inquiries must be
presented with a general price list (GPL). The GPL must itemize the
costs of funeral services as well as the merchandise for sale from a funeral
director. The funeral home must have a GPL and provide it to you
We often get asked ‘what
is the cost of a funeral in New York City?’ Unfortunately, there
is no simple and succinct answer. Unlike many other trades and professions,
average service charges can vary significantly. The average cost
of a funeral in 2017, according to the National Funeral Directors Association
(NFDA), was $7,360, and this does not take into account any cemetery fees.
This is what can significantly add to the cost of a funeral as cemetery
plot prices in New York City can be quite expensive. For example
– a single burial plot in Green-Wood Cemetery costs between $12,000 and
In recent years there has
been a greater demand for alternative and indeed more affordable funerals.
The interest in cremation services has increased dramatically because it
offers a much cheaper option than a traditional burial service.
In order for a cremation to
be performed, the legal next of kin must sign a ‘Cremation Authorization
Form’ and a cremation permit must be issued. A cremation cannot proceed
until these documents have been duly completed, signed and notarized. The
next of kin will also be asked to sign a ‘Designation of Intention’ form
that stipulates the intention for how to dispose of the cremated remains.
If the remains have not been collected within 120-days after the cremation,
then the funeral services provider has the right to respectfully dispose
Understanding Cremation services
in New York City
With cremation services becoming
a popular funeral choice in New York City, a dignified cremation funeral
can now be arranged for around $2,500 to $4,000. As there is no need
for a burial plot, a grave liner or a casket, this significantly reduces
the overall funeral costs. A cremation funeral can proceed in very
much the same as a traditional burial, only the deceased is transported
to the crematory following a service. Some crematories can accommodate
a funeral service at the actual crematory.
Arranging a cremation service
with a memorial
A cremation memorial service
is generally where the deceased is cremated first and then a service is
held. This can be with, or without, the cremated remains present,
or can take the form of an ash-scattering ceremony. Today we are
embracing more novel and alternative memorializing ceremonies, and life
celebrations that are being held in locations other than places of worship.
You will even find that Funeral Celebrants are leading and officiating
at memorial services as well as traditional clergy and ministers.
New York City direct cremation
service providers – What are cremation costs & packages?
A direct cremation simply means
that an immediate cremation is conducted with no service, and minimal services
or intervention by a funeral home. The deceased is generally collected
from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory.
After all the required paperwork and preparation is done, the deceased
is cremated. The remains are then returned to the family, most often in
a simple cardboard container. A direct cremation in New York City
can generally be obtained for around $700 - $900 depending on which cremation
services provider you select. Do be aware that some cremation providers
are offering direct cremation packages that are not complete and do not
include the crematory fee. It is not usual to be quoted $2000 - $3000
for a direct cremation from some of the more traditional funeral homes.
Contact your nearest DFS
Memorials provider to find out cremation costs in your borough. Direct
cremation is available throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and
Staten Island for $485.00.
What are the laws for scattering
ashes in New York City?
According to the provisions
in NY state law, cremated remains can be kept at home, buried in a cemetery,
memorial garden, mausoleum or niche. Remains can also be buried or
scattered on private land (with the permission of the landowner).
Cremated remains are organic and sterile and therefore pose no issue to
the environment. If you wish to scatter remains in public parkland,
there are no specific laws preventing this but it is advisable to check
with park authorities to see if a permit is required.
Cremains are actually stark
white, similar to aquarium gravel, and therefore can be rather conspicuous
at first appearance; not at all like ashes from a fire. For this
reason you may wish to consider a shallow burial unless you are planning
on dispersing the ashes in water. It is also highly advisable to use paths
less travelled for the scattering ceremony and to use discretion, as cremation
and/or scattering can be offensive to some people and cultures.
As a guide, you should not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads,
walks or trails.
Within the documented evidence
at all levels - federal, state, and local legislation – the only commonly
agreed point of principle noted is that the container which carries the
remains must be disposed of separately and no permanent memorial marker
may be erected. To be eco-friendly you should only use biodegradable
materials if you wish to conduct some kind of scattering ceremony.
Although there is no reference
in Central Park’s Activities and Permits section regarding the scattering
of remains, an inquiry to the Central Park Conservancy did result in a
response stating that it is prohibited. However, there have been
reports of families choosing to covertly scatter remains as Alistair Cooke's
family did in 2004 (see news story in the notes at the end of this article).
New York City is in Region
2 of the Environmental Protection Agency who governs the Clean Water Act
and the region contact number is (212) 637-3796. The EPA does prohibit
the scattering of ashes in fresh water including lakes, rivers and streams.
This would include scattering ashes in the Hudson River or the East River.
You may, however, scatter remains into the Atlantic Ocean so long as you
are 3 nautical miles out to sea.
How do I preplan a Funeral in
New York City?
Planning ahead can save your
surviving family a tremendous amount of stress in addition to the emotional
and financial burdens of handling the funeral process and costs.
All funds that you put into a funeral plan in NY must go into a trust fund.
Funds paid to a funeral firm for a pre-need contract must be deposited
into a suitable trust within 10 days of being received. There are
various options as to how a payment can be made when pre-planning a funeral
from single pay plans to automatic monthly bank withdrawals. Most
funeral service providers will tailor a plan designed to meet most budget
You can choose to preplan
and prepay, what is commonly called a ‘preneed contract’ – or you can preplan
by setting all your wishes out and even pre-signing the necessary authorizations,
but not prepay. Many funeral consumer advocates recommend keeping
hold of your money and putting it into a Totten Trust yourself as a safer
way of planning for the inevitable. This can, of course, depend upon
whether you have life insurance, your estate, your surviving family and
whether you have considerations regarding assets for Medicaid or Medicare.
is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral?
embalmed prior to shipping.
Because of the rapid deterioration of a body after death, NY law requires
that bodies held for over 24 hours or in transit must be embalmed, refrigerated,
or encased in a leak and odor proof container.
What are New York City Funeral
laws governing home death care, embalming & casket sales?
New York is one of only 8 states
that do require that families employ the services of a licensed funeral
professional to conduct death care services. Therefore, you are required
to use the services of a funeral director even if you plan to conduct a
Embalming is the use of chemicals,
internally and externally, to disinfect and temporarily preserve the body.
There is no NY law that requires embalming. However if the body is to be
transported most carriers will require a body to be
Caskets are not required
by law in New York City, however, there may be cemetery or mausoleum restrictions
regarding caskets and outer burial containers or vaults. The law does not
require a casket for cremation but some type of container such as a cardboard
box or canvas pouch is usually required by the crematory.
What are the green burial options
in New York City?
A green (or natural) burial
involves preparing the deceased with as little chemical intervention as
possible, and burying him or her in a naturally-made coffin. This
can be a wooden coffin, a bamboo box, or wool or linen shroud. There
are a number of funeral service providers who can offer you an eco-funeral
by ensuring these standards of non-invasive handling of the deceased are
delivered and arranging a burial in a green cemetery plot. There
are a select number of cemeteries in NYC offering green burial, although
most of these are hybrid cemeteries [where a designated area of an established
cemetery also has a green section]. Visit our Natural Burial directory
for information on green burial sites in NY.
How do I file for the death
certificate in New York City?
The funeral director generally
files for the death certificate on your behalf. It has to be filed
within 72-hours after the death has occurred. The funeral director
will need you to fill in a form with personal questions about the deceased
in order that he can file for the death certificate. Certain statistical
data is required to effectively complete the form. Death certificates
cost $15.00 per copy in New York City, although veterans receive 3 free
copies. The funeral director will ask you how many copies you require,
and it is generally sound advice to have more than one, as you will need
multiple copies to notify various institutions to close the deceased’s
estate. Extra copies can be obtained at a later date from New York
City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. You can order extra copies
online, in person, or by mail and it takes 10 working days to process death
Donating your body to science
in New York City – or ‘no cost’ cremation
You may choose to make an anatomical
donation to a medical or research institution in New York City. Most
major medical colleges do accept body donation. You will also find
that there are companies in the U.S. who manage whole body donation programs
and offer ‘no cost’ cremations. Just be aware that even if a legacy
was put in place to donate, a donation cannot always be accepted at the
time of death.
What help is there for those
on low income with funeral costs in New York City?
Sadly more and more families
today are struggling to meet funeral expenses. The City of New York’s
Department of Social Services does have a Burial Finance Assistance Program
to assist New York City residents. Up to $900 in assistance can be
paid for a funeral costing no more than $1,700 for low-income residents.
A Burial Application Form claim form is available "here" and must be submitted
within 60-days of the death. The crematory fee or grave and grave
opening charges are excluded, however, the cost of interring the ashes
after cremation is not excluded in the $1,700 total cost. Be mindful that
if the total funeral bill should exceed the amount of $1,700, then this
will disqualify the claim and no payment will be made.
What happens if the deceased
is at the Medical Examiner’s office?
Although we mentioned that around
70% of deaths occur in a hospital or within a care environment, there are
cases where the deceased is taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
If the death occurred as the result of an accident, at a residential address,
or there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, the Coroner
will need to sign-off on the death. The New York City Office of Chief
Medical Examiner (OCME) conducts independent investigations as a public
service to the community and criminal justice system.
If your loved one has been
taken into the care of the OCME, you may need to visit the local Family
Service Center to identify the body.
The borough locations are
Brooklyn – Kings County
Hospital Center Campus, 599 Winthrop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
The Bronx – Bronx
Family Services Center, 260 East 161 St, 4th Floor, The Bronx, NY 10451
Manhattan – NYU Langone
Medical Center Campus, 520 First Ave, New York, NY 10016
Queens – Queens Hospital
Center Campus, 160-15 82nd Dr, Jamaica, NY 11432
Staten Island – Seaview
Hospital Campus, 460 Brielle Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314
What different faith options
are there for alternative funerals in NYC?
Being that New York City has
such a diverse population and many immigrants who have settled from other
countries, it has a very multicultural faith dynamic. Many funeral
homes will cater to a broad range of cultural and faith needs, but you
will also find funeral service providers who specialize in meeting specific
faith needs. Brooklyn has a high percentage of Jewish Funeral Service
providers who understand how to cater to the death care needs of their
Jewish community. There are also providers who can cater to arranging
traditional Catholic wakes or Hindu and Muslim rites. If you have
specific faith requirements, it would be well to ensure you select a funeral
provider who understands the final rites of your faith.
International Repatriation of
With such a large population
that began as immigrants to NYC, deaths do occur where the deceased had
requested to be returned to their country of origin for interment.
JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports are used as ship-out points for corpses
being shipped to Europe and Asia. International repatriation of the
deceased can be an expensive affair but can be arranged by a funeral services
provider versant in the legalities of shipping a body. For more information
about repatriating remains visit our Funeral Shipping section.
New York City funeral home reviews
and or complaints
Our online review-based consumer
culture has reached the funeral business, and now you can review and compare
funeral homes online. Directory sites often include local business
reviews and this can help you to learn about a funeral or cremation provider.
As with reviewing any service or product, some common sense and integrity
must be employed.
If you have a complaint
against a funeral director or a funeral establishment you should attempt
to resolve your complaint directly with the funeral home concerned.
If you do not manage to reach a satisfactory resolution, then you can contact
the NY Bureau of Funeral Directing. A formal complaint against a
funeral establishment must be put in writing, and include copies of all
documentation from the funeral home.
New York State Department of
Bureau of Funeral Directing
Hedley Park Place
433 River Street Suite 303
Troy, New York 12180
Link to complaint form
This guide to arranging a
funeral or cremation in New York City has hopefully answered some of your
immediate questions. Please also use our funeral resource library
to access further articles to assist you with arranging a funeral.
Crematories & Cremation
Costs in New York City
[Crematory fee information gathered
Green-Wood, 500 25th St, Brooklyn
NY 11232 – Crematory fee $376 (alternative container)
St. Michaels, 72-02 Astoria
Blvd, E Elmhurst NY 11370 - Crematory fee $425 (alternative container)
Fresh Pond, 40 Mount Olivet
Crescent, Middle Village NY 11379 - Crematory fee $408 (alternative container)
Long Island Cremation, 91 Eads
St, W. Babylon NY 11704 - Crematory fee $433 (alternative container)
Rose Hill, 792 East Edgar Road,
Linden NJ 07036 - Crematory fee $190 (alternative container)
||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 10 years.
Last Revised: 10/09/2019
70 percent of Americans die in a hospital, nursing home or long-term-care
facility. CDC :
Cooke's ashes scattered in Central Park :
a low cost cremation provider in New York City
Homes in New York City
Green-Wood Cemetery, New York City