Who can make funeral arrangements?
The "customer." It's very important for family members to agree about the type of services and merchandise to be purchased. Ideally, the family should designate one person to make the arrangements and to convey the family decisions to the funeral director. The customer will be responsible for the payment of the bill.
Do I need a funeral director?
Yes. In New York State, only a licensed and registered funeral director may make funeral arrangements for the care, moving, preparation and burial or cremation of a deceased person. At the least, the funeral director will file the death certificate, transfer the body, coordinate with cemetery or crematory representatives, make the necessary preparations, and move the body to the cemetery or crematory.
Does New York State require the use of a casket or outer interment receptacle?
No, but many cemeteries do require the use of a "suitable container." New York State law allows for the use of an unfinished wooden box or an "alternative container" made of cardboard, pressed wood, composition materials, or canvas or other material. Even though burial vaults or grave liners are not required by law, some cemeteries require them to prevent collapse or sinking of the grave. if you do not want to buy a burial vault, choose a cemetery that does not require vaults.
Is embalming required by State law?
No. In fact, a funeral director must obtain specific approval to embalm from the customer. A funeral home may, however, require embalming if certain services, such as a viewing with an open casket, are chosen. Embalming fees must be clearly stated on both the firm's General Price List and on the Itemized Statement of Services and Merchandise provided.
Can the funeral director refuse to embalm the body?
No. The funeral home may not refuse to embalm or otherwise handle the body, regardless of the cause of death of the deceased. The home also may not charge extra for preparing or handling the body of a person who has died of an infectious disease, such as AIDS, hepatitis B or tuberculosis.
Can the funeral director refuse to allow me to view the body when visitation bas been selected?
No. While the funeral director may advise against a viewing due to the cause of death or condition of the body, the final decision is left to the customer.
Can I see the body for the purposes of identification?
Yes. No matter what the funeral arrangements are, the customer has the right to see the body briefly. If this process is prolonged, the funeral director may consider it a viewing or visitation and a fee will be required.
What will the funeral arrangements cost?
The costs of funeral arrangements vary greatly, depending on the funeral home and on the type of service and merchandise you choose. For example, if the service you select involves viewing the remains, the funeral home may require embalming and preparation of the body, which can be expensive. Also, there is a tremendous range in the price of caskets, depending on style, type of wood, lining, etc. The least expensive type of funeral service is direct burial or direct cremation.
If I choose a direct burial, can the funeral home charge for a graveside service?
A direct burial includes a graveside ceremony if the customer wants it. The price for the ceremony, excluding cash advances, must be included in the fee for a direct burial. However, if the service requires staff in addition to the funeral director supervising the burial, an additional charge may be added. If so, this charge must be clearly listed on both the General Price List and the Itemized Statement of Services.
Does the New York State Department of Health set the charges?
No. While the Department of Health regulates the business and practice of funeral homes, it does not regulate prices.
What can I do if I feel the prices are too high?
You can call several funeral homes and compare prices. (Funeral homes are required to give price information over the telephone.) If you’ve shopped around and the price is still too high, you may have to reconsider your selections.
Can I rent a casket for a viewing?
Possibly. Casket rentals are not prohibited and some funeral homes offer this option. If a funeral home offers rental caskets, it must be stated on the General Price List. If you rent a casket for a viewing, you can then buy a suitable container for burial, if you choose burial.
Can the funeral director criticize my selections?
No. It is illegal for funeral home staff to state or imply that any merchandise they offer for sale is unsatisfactory in any way.
Are there other actions that are illegal for funeral homes?
Yes. Illegal actions include:
* pressuring the customer to select certain services or merchandise
* charging an additional fee for filing the death certificate or getting it medically certified
* charging a "handling fee" for paying third parties on your behalf charging a fee for handling a casket provided by the customer
* charging for any service or merchandise not selected by the customer
* charging interest on an outstanding balance unless this charge is disclosed at the time the funeral arrangements were initially made and is stated in the Itemized Statement
* having persons other than a licensed funeral director make funeral arrangements, prepare the body, or supervise the burial misrepresenting laws and regulations relating to funeral directing
* You do not have to accept services or merchandise you don't want!
* You must be informed of all charges in advance!
* Always get a receipt!
Do I need more than one copy of the death certificate?
Probably. You will need to give certified copies to insurance companies, banks, etc. The funeral home may obtain them for you. They cannot charge you more than the actual fee, which is up to $15 in New York City and $10 (or less) in the rest of New York State. Death certificates are filed by the funeral director with the registrar of Vital Records in the locality where the death occurred.
Can I prepay my funeral?
Yes. Prepayment can lift much of the financial burden from your survivors. It also allows you to select the type of funeral arrangements you want. Pre-need plans are regulated by the Pre-Need Funeral Consumer Protection Act. For more information, read the New York State Health Department's publication "Before Prepaying Your Funeral, Know Your Rights."
Can the funeral home change arrangements without my permission?
No. The Funeral director must obtain your approval before making any substitutions or changes.
What if the deceased wanted to donate organs?
It is important to honor the wishes of people who want to donate all or part of their bodies upon death. Those who want to be donors should carry organ donor cards, sign the donor space on the back of their licenses, include their wishes in their wills, and inform family members. For more information on organ donation, call 1-800-24-DONOR (1-800-243-6667).
What if I decide to change funeral homes?
You have the right to change funeral homes at any time. You will need to pay for any services that have already been done (for which you had given approval). The funeral home must allow the transfer of the body to another funeral home, even if you haven't paid yet. It may not hold the body in exchange for payment
How do I complain about a cemetery or crematory?
The New York State Department of Health does not regulate cemeteries or crematories. You can send a complaint to:
NYS Department of State Division of Cemeteries
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231-0001
However, if the cemetery is owned by a religious organization or is municipally owned, it may not be subject to regulation.
Can I complain about how arrangements were handled?
If, after the funeral, you have a serious problem with how the arrangements were handled, you can file a complaint by writing:
New York State Department of Health Bureau of Funeral Directing
Hedley Park Place
433 River Street Suite 303
Troy, New York 12180-2299
What are the most common reasons for preplanning and prepaying funeral arrangements?
Some people, especially those without relatives o friends nearby, want the assurance that their funeral will represent their beliefs and lifestyle. Others wish to assist their family and friends by taking care of all the arrangements and advance.
What are some other reasons?
In today's society where people travel often and move from one home to another, some people prearrange and prepay their funeral to insure a final place to return regardless of where death may occur. another common reason people prepay their funeral is to spend down their assets prior to entering a nursing home. These are but a few of the more common reasons people give us.
What are some of the benefits to my family?
By involving them in the process of preplanning your funeral arrangements, you will give them an opportunity to share their respect for you. And, you will eliminate any doubt in their minds about what you want when the time comes. also, by preparing your funeral expenses, you eliminate a major debt that your estate would be requires to pay before making gifts and bequests to your family. This may increase the value of their inheritance from you.
Is it healthy to talk about death in advance?
Most mental health professionals believe that is good acknowledge death as a reality of life. Discussing it openly can provide a healthy outlet for relieving fears and anxiety.
How do prepaid funerals save money?
Actually, there are many reasons why prepaid funerals are frequently less costly. One such reason is, in the absence of prior arrangements, surviving family members have a tendency to emotionally overspend in their grief of the moment.
Should I preplan my funeral arrangements even if I can't prepay them now?
Yes. Your wishes about the type of service, preferences for music and flowers, casket selection and burial are very important. You can make the arrangements now and make payment when you have the money available.
What happens if I change my mind after prepaying my funeral expenses?
What happens if I change my mind after prepaying my funeral trusts. If you elect a revocable trust, you may change your mind and get your money back. If you select an irrevocable trust, you can't cancel it but you may change funeral homes or transfer funds if you wish
What happens if I move to another part of the country?
Funeral plans and prepaid funds can be transferred to a local funeral home anywhere in the United States at the time of death. Of course, if you established a revocable trust, you may cancel it and open a new one where you relocate.
My family doesn't like to talk about death. How can I approach that subject with them?
Talking about funerals is difficult for some people. Yet, as difficult as it may be now, it is likely to be even more difficult for them when a death has occurred. by openly discussing your funeral arrangements now, family members are spared he need to make important choices and decisions at a time of grief and sorrow.
What should I do after preplanning and prepaying my funeral arrangements?
Notify several family members or friends that such an agreement exists and where it can be found. the funeral home can provide informational copies to the people you designate.