New York cemeteries that are incorporated under New York State law are regulated by the state. The state has no jurisdiction over religious, municipal, private (or family) and national cemeteries.
Even though the following information applies only to regulated cemeteries, these questions should be considered when a consumer is negotiating for a cemetery plot not subject to state regulations. Before making any commitment, ask whether or not the cemetery is regulated by the state. Make a list of questions, and carefully review any documents or contracts before signing.
What documents should a consumer expect to review?
When you purchase a lot or crypt, you should receive a deed, contract or receipt showing your lot ownership and a copy of the cemetery's rules and regulations. You are entitled to attend and vote at the cemetery's lot owners meeting which is held annually.
Can I choose the final disposition of my remains such as burial, cremation and entombment?
Yes. We recommend that you prepare written instructions explaining your wishes or make sure that your wishes are observed by preplanning all the aspects of your funeral.
Can a cemetery refuse burial?
Yes, but only under conditions involving nonpayment.
Can I be buried on private property?
Check with your local government officials if you wish to be buried on private property as there are no state rules concerning this burial option.
Is a concrete vault or grave liner required for burial?
An incorporated cemetery may require the use of a burial vault. In the event that this requirement conflicts with one's religious beliefs, it will be waived.
What are service charges?
Service charges are fees levied by cemeteries for performing any service after the purchase of the grave or lot. The Cemetery Board must approve any service charge increases proposed by regulated cemeteries, and notice of these approved charges are available to consumers at the cemetery office. Some cemeteries have an approved, voluntary perpetual care charge. Other cemeteries may accept perpetual care gifts or bequests. In any event, a cemetery cannot refuse burial for nonpayment of perpetual care.
Can I sell my cemetery lot?
If there are any burials (bodies or cremated remains) in the lot, it cannot be sold. If there are no burials, you must first offer the lot back to the cemetery under certain conditions spelled out by the Division of Cemeteries.
For more information about cemeteries, contact:
NYS Department of State - Division of Cemeteries
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231-0001
518-474-6226 - or, in New York City, 212-417-5713
NYS Division of Cemeteries
The important thing to remember is to ask questions to get the information you need to make an informed consumer decision about your burial plans, and to get everything in writing.