Funeral Preparations – Frequently Asked Questions
- Who may make funeral arrangements?
- Do I need a funeral director?
- What will the funeral cost?
- Does the New York State Department of Health regulate the fees?
- What if I believe I am being overcharged?
- Is the use of a casket or outer interment receptacle required?
- Does New York State require embalming?
- May a funeral director refuse to embalm or handle the body?
- If visitation has been selected, may the funeral director refuse to permit me to view the body?
- May I rent a casket for the viewing?
- May the funeral director express criticism of my selections?
Who may make funeral arrangements? Preferably, the family should discuss and agree upon the type of service and products to be purchased. One person should be designated to convey the family’s wishes to the funeral director.
Do I need a funeral director? Yes. New York State requires that only a licensed and registered funeral director may make arrangements for moving, care, preparation and burial or cremation of a deceased person’s remains.
What will the funeral cost? The costs depend upon on the type of service and merchandise selected. If the service includes viewing the remains, the funeral home may require embalming and preparation of the body which increases the cost. Caskets come in many different styles and materials and their prices vary greatly. The most economical type of funeral service is direct burial or direct cremation.
Does the New York State Department of Health regulate the fees? No. Although the Department of Health regulates the business of funeral homes, it does not set or limit prices.
What if I believe I am being overcharged? Shop around. Call several funeral homes and compare the price quotes. Funeral homes are required to give price information over the phone.
Is the use of a casket or outer interment receptacle required?
No, however many cemeteries may require that a “suitable container” be used. New York State law permits the use of an unfinished wooden box or an “alternative container” made of cardboard, pressed wood, composition materials, canvas or other material. Although the law does not require burial vaults or grave liners, some cemeteries require them to prevent collapse or sinking of the grave.
Does New York State require embalming?
No. The funeral director must ask for permission from the customer before the body is embalmed. The funeral home may require that the body be embalmed if there will be an open casket viewing of the deceased.
May a funeral director refuse to embalm or handle the body?
No. The funeral home may not refuse regardless of the cause of death (e.g., infectious disease). No extra costs may be charged for preparing or handling the body of a person who died from an infectious disease.
If visitation has been selected, may the funeral director refuse to permit me to view the body?
No. Although the funeral director may advise against it because of the condition of the body, the decision is left to the customer.
May I view the body for identification purposes?
Yes. Regardless of funeral arrangements, the customer has the right to briefly view the body at no charge.
May I rent a casket for the viewing?
Yes. Casket rentals are allowed by law and some, not all, funeral homes offer the option. If the option is available, it must be stated on the funeral home’s General Price List. If you rent a casket, you may then buy a “suitable container,” if you have chosen burial of the remains.
May the funeral director express criticism of my selections?
No. It is illegal for funeral home staff to state or imply that any merchandise they offer is unsatisfactory.