New York Home Funeral Laws – All You Need To Know

by ECL Writer
Burial and Cremation Laws in New York

There are numerous choices to be made when organizing a funeral. You can experience stress or confusion. You might have inquiries. Only a few jurisdictions, including New York, forbid home funerals by mandating that a professional funeral director be involved in several components of the last rites. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about New York home funeral laws or the rules that govern home funerals in New York State.

Are Home Funerals Legal In New York?

Yes, a home funeral is legal in New York. According to New York law, a person may choose to have a funeral service at their home, provided that certain requirements are met.

These requirements include:

  1. The person who died must be embalmed or refrigerated before the funeral service.
  2. The body must be transported in a proper container.
  3. A licensed funeral director must be involved in the funeral arrangements, even if the funeral is held at a private residence.
  4. A burial or cremation permit must be obtained before the body can be disposed of.

It is important to note that there may be additional requirements or restrictions based on local regulations and health department guidelines.

If you are considering a home funeral (laws) in New York, it is important to speak with a licensed funeral director who can help you understand the requirements and guide you through the process. A funeral director can also assist with obtaining necessary permits, transporting the body, and arranging for the disposal of the remains.

Who Can Make Funeral Arrangements In New York?

New York law establishes who has the authority to make final decisions on a person’s body and funeral services, even though a funeral director is required to carry out disposition plans. The following individuals have the following rights and obligations, in that order:

  • a person you appoint in a written document that meets the requirements of New York law
  • your spouse or domestic partner
  • any of your adult children
  • either of your parents
  • any of your adult siblings
  • your court-appointed guardian
  • any adult person who would be entitled to a share of your estate by law, with the closest relative having the highest priority
  • an appointed representative of your estate, or
  • a close friend or relative who is reasonably familiar with your wishes and who is willing and able to take on the job
  • a county official, or
  • any other person acting on your behalf.

(N.Y. Public Health Law § 4201(2).)

If members of the same class disagree about the disposition of your body, a court must resolve the dispute. (N.Y. Public Health Law § 4201(8).) To avoid such an outcome, it’s wise to name a decision-maker in advance.

Do I Need A Funeral Director?

Yes. Only a funeral director who is registered and licensed in New York State is authorized to make funeral arrangements for a deceased person’s care, transportation, preparation, burial, or cremation. The funeral director will, at the very least, transfer the body, work with representatives of the cemetery or crematory, make the appropriate arrangements, and move the body to the cemetery or crematory.

Who Regulates Funeral Homes In NYS?

Funeral homes in New York State are regulated by the New York State Department of Health, Division of Licensing Services. The division is responsible for licensing and regulating funeral homes, funeral directors, and embalmers to ensure that they are operating in compliance with state laws and regulations.

The division also investigates consumer complaints and takes action against licensees who violate state laws or regulations, such as engaging in unprofessional conduct or overcharging for funeral services.

Consumers who have concerns about the services provided by a funeral home or the actions of a funeral director or embalmer in New York State can file a complaint with the division by submitting a written complaint to the Office of the Professions. The division will investigate the complaint and take appropriate action if necessary.

It is important to choose a funeral home that is licensed by the New York State Department of Health, as this ensures that the funeral home and its staff are operating in compliance with state laws and regulations and are providing quality services to consumers.

Must The Body Be Embalmed?

In New York, the law does not require that a body be embalmed before burial or cremation. However, if a funeral service is held with the body present, the law requires that the body be embalmed or refrigerated if the funeral service is not held within 24 hours of the person’s death.

In some cases, a funeral home may require embalming if the body is being transported over a long distance or if the funeral service will be delayed for an extended period of time. Embalming helps to preserve the body and reduce the risk of decomposition, which can make it possible for friends and family to view the body before the funeral.

If you are concerned about embalming or have questions about the process, it is a good idea to speak with a licensed funeral director. They can provide information about the law and the reasons for embalming, as well as answer any questions you may have.

Getting A Death Certificate In New York

The funeral director must file the death certificate with the local registrar within 72 hours of the death and prior to burial or cremation. (See New York Public Health Law §§ 4140 and 4142 (2018).)

You will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out certain tasks after the death, such as transferring the deceased person’s property to inheritors. The funeral director who files the death certificate should be able to order copies for you.

Getting A Permit To Transport The Body

After filing the death certificate, the funeral director will obtain the necessary permits for transporting the body, and for burial or cremation. In New York, the transport permit is called a “burial or removal permit.” (New York Public Health Law § 4140 (2018).)

Can You Bury A Body At Home In New York?

In New York, a private burial location could be available. A certified funeral director is required to oversee every burial in New York, so be sure to pick one who is prepared to assist you with your funeral arrangements. Be sure to ask the county or town clerk if there are any zoning regulations or other policies you need to observe before conducting a home burial.

Any person may dedicate land for use as a family cemetery under New York law, provided that it is not more than three acres in size and is not situated within 300 feet of a residence.

This land must be registered with the county clerk. (See New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law § 1401 (2018).) For more information about cemeteries in New York, see the New York State Division of Cemeteries FAQ.

What About Cremation?

You must arrange cremation through a funeral director, who will obtain the required permits. If the crematory does not have a licensed funeral director on its staff, you must arrange for a funeral director to be present to receive the body when it is delivered. (New York Public Health Law § 4145 (2018).)

Does New York State Require The Use Of A Casket Or Outer Interment Receptacle?

No, but a lot of cemeteries do demand that an “appropriate container” be used. The use of an unfinished wooden box or a “alternative container” composed of cardboard, pressed wood, composition materials, canvas, or another material is permitted by New York State law. Although grave liners or burial vaults are not mandated by law, several cemeteries do in order to prevent grave collapse or sinking. Pick a cemetery that doesn’t require burial vaults if you don’t want to spend money on one.

Can The Funeral Director Refuse To Embalm The Body?

No, regardless of the deceased’s cause of death, the funeral home may not refuse to embalm or otherwise handle the body. Additionally, the facility is prohibited from charging extra for preparing or managing the body of a person who has passed away from an infectious disease like AIDS, hepatitis, or tuberculosis.

What Will The Funeral Arrangements Cost?

Depending on the funeral home, the kind of service, and the goods you select, the price of funeral arrangements varies substantially. For instance, the funeral home might need to embalm and prepare the body, which can be costly, if the service you choose involves viewing the remains. The cost of a casket can vary greatly based on the style, quality of wood, lining, etc. Direct burial or direct cremation is the funeral services that cost the least.

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