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. Source / more at New York State Health Department.

  • 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

Less expensive arrangements

An alternative funeral and burial process can save thousands of dollars. Most alternatives require the disposal of a body quickly, without embalming, which means families should discuss plans well before it’s time to make a decision. Source / more at

  1. An immediate burial without a service before it costs less if the family provides the casket. Many families now hold a memorial service on their own, often after burial or cremation, without paying for funeral home space and other related costs.
  2. Cremation with a traditional funeral (visitation, a service, etc.) costs less than a traditional burial. A direct cremation, with no funeral home service or visitation, and the cremation is shortly after death, and a family-provided container is even less expensive.
  3. Another option is a “green burial." Sometimes a green burial can be as expensive, or more expensive, than a traditional one. A green burial uses a biodegradable pine casket or sometimes of burial shroud, and the body is not embalmed. It's better for the environment, and can be much less expensive than traditional burial or cremation. But some conservation cemeteries charge more for a larger plot to conform to conservation rules. Green “burials” also have options that don’t involve burial. These methods are cheaper and more environment-friendly than burial.

Social Security Burial Fund

A burial fund is money set aside to pay for burial expenses. For example, this money can be in a bank account, other financial instrument, or a prepaid burial arrangement. Some States allow an individual to pre-pay for their burial by contracting with a funeral home and paying in advance for their funeral. You should discuss this with your local Social Security office.

Generally, you and your spouse can set aside up to $1,500 each to pay for burial expenses. Source / more at the US Social Security Administration

NYC Burial Fund

Office of Burial Services (OBS) can provide financial assistance to help you meet the funeral expenses for a deceased low-income New York City resident. This can apply to either funeral expenses that have already been paid, or pre-approval for the cost of a planned funeral. OBS can pay up to $1,700 towards the cost of a funeral bill for a decedent’s final disposition (which includes burial, cremation or burying of cremation ashes). Source / more at the NYC Office of Burial Services 

Burial benefits for Veterans

You may be eligible for Veterans burial allowances if you’re paying for the burial and funeral costs and you won’t be reimbursed by any other organization, like another government agency or the Veteran’s employer. Source / more at the Veterans Administration.

Burial benefits for crime victims

The New York State Office of Victim Services has money to help crime victims, including money for burials. Source / more at the NYS Office of Victim Services


Funeral expense checklist

Funeral Pricing Checklist by the FTC.docx

Was this information helpful?

Last Reviewed: April 11, 2024