1.Choose a Licensed Funeral Director
The family is responsible for choosing a funeral director. Many nursing homes and hospitals have limited space to hold the body, so this process must begin immediately after your loved one passes. The funeral director will make arrangements to transport the deceased.
Directors can be found online or may be recommended by friends and family. Once you make arrangements with the funeral director, they will walk you through the process and next steps.
2.Make the Decision Whether to Cremate or Bury
Two factors are considered when making the decision of whether to cremate or bury: cost and religious burial rights.
- Cremations are a low-cost option for those who do not have the funds for a burial.
- Some religions have specific burial rights that require individuals to be buried or cremated after they pass away. Additional religious rites may also be required.
Due to the current crisis, the process for cremations and burials have a longer timeline than normal and may take several weeks.
3.Call Local Cemeteries to Arrange Purchase of a Plot if You Choose a Burial
The family making the arrangements is responsible for purchasing either a ground plot or crypt. Most cemeteries can be found by conducting a simple search on the internet, prices may vary.
Due to the high volume of deaths due to COVID-19, cemeteries are working at limited capacity and you may need to call several in order to find available space.
4.Research Resources Available to Cover the Cost of Funeral Expenses for Low-Income Individuals
HRA Burial Assistance: Low-income New York City family members may be eligible for up to $900 in financial assistance to meet the costs of funeral expenses for a deceased low-income New York City resident- https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/burial-assistance.page
FEMA Disaster Funeral Assistance: FEMA Funeral Assistance is provided to help with the cost of unexpected expenses associated with the death of an immediate family member attributed to an event declared a major disaster or emergency- https://www.fema.gov/
5.Contact Your Local Consulate if the Body Needs to Be Repatriated Outside the U.S.
If the person is an immigrant and had indicated that he or she would like to be repatriated outside of the U.S. for burial, contact the consulate of the person’s country of origin. Each country has its own requirements and steps you need to take before transporting the body. The consulate will guide you through necessary paperwork and documents needed in order to make the process as smooth as possible.
COVID-19 Specific Considerations
- Please have patience: the overwhelming volume funeral homes and cemeteries are now facing due to the crisis have extended timelines significantly.
- Depending on where your loved one passed, the time to claim the body is up to 30 days. You should claim the body as soon as your loved one passes. You can contact our office for additional guidance.
- Current state regulations limit viewings to immediate family only and social distancing protocols must be adhered to.
- If a cemetery does not have capacity in your borough, you may need to expand your search to upstate locations.
Questions? Please call 718-722-9217.