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Funeral guidelines in New York show the need for consumers to be aware of their rights during coronavirus pandemic times

Urn-for Cremated RemainsIf you lose a loved one and need to arrange for funeral services in the coronavirus pandemic era, be sure to find out your rights as well as to compare prices. For example, rules may be changing for cremation and burial.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James issued guidelines Saturday to protect New Yorkers using funeral homes and reminded funeral homes that the office will take action against any business that violates consumer rights.

Those arranging funerals should be aware of requirements and recent executive orders and emergency regulations that impact funerals and funeral arrangements in the following ways:

  • At this time, only the immediate family of the diseased may gather at the funeral home for a private viewing/ceremony and graveside services. The number of attendees should be kept to as few as possible while maintaining social distancing, which is at least 6 feet apart.
  • Documents related to funeral arrangements may be signed electronically during the current public health crisis. However, this doesn’t apply to the cremation authorization form, which still requires a physical signature. Cremation authorization forms may be witnessed remotely.
  • Emergency regulations adopted by the New York State Cemetery Board allow funeral directors to transfer deceased from crematories operating with extensive back logs to crematories elsewhere in the state that have more capacity.
  • It’s illegal for funeral homes to add a surcharge or additional fees for services to those who died of covid-19, or any other infectious disease.
  • Funeral homes may not refuse to embalm or otherwise handle the body of a deceased loved one, regardless of the cause of death.

New Yorkers can submit complaints on funeral homes through the Office of the Attorney General consumer complaint form or with the Department of Health. Complaints regarding cemeteries or crematories should be filed with the Department of Cemeteries.

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