Different Types of Services for Funerals in New York

Below is a guide to the different types of funeral services, the rules that apply to them in New York State and the costs they may incur. Keep in mind that with any service, you will have to have some costs associated with filing the death certificate and disposing of your loved one’s remains.

Traditional or Full-Service Funeral

The traditional funeral service may be the most expensive and is also the most common. This service may have a viewing or wake where friends and loved ones are encouraged to greet the family and give their condolences. Typically at a traditional funeral service, the remains of the deceased are available for viewing. The formal service may be presided over by a clergy member and may include remarks from family or friends and song selections followed by the burial or interment at a cemetery.

The reason why the traditional service is the most expensive is because you have to consider the funeral home’s basic service fees, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which can include embalming and dressing the body, purchase of a coffin, creating and printing the obituary, rental of the funeral home or church for the service, the use of a hearse and the use of vehicles for transportation of the family if they do not have their own vehicles at their disposal. Further costs to consider include whether you will have to purchase a cemetery plot or crypt for burial or interment of the remains.

Direct Burial

A direct burial is when the remains are buried shortly after death. Costs are lower with this option because there is no embalming or dressing of the body for a viewing or funeral or other costs associated with planning a full service. You would still need to purchase transportation to the cemetery, a burial container for the remains and a plot or crypt at the cemetery and other basic services from the funeral home, the Federal Trade Commission says. There is also an option to have a graveside service for the family, which would be another additional cost paid to the funeral home.

Direct Cremation

Much like the direct burial, the remains are taken to a crematory shortly after death. As with the direct burial, costs are lower than the traditional full-service funeral because again, you do not have to pay for embalming the body, dressing and a coffin for viewing or a wake. You will still incur the costs of transporting the body to the crematory and a fee for the cremation services but you don’t have to place or bury them in a cemetery. You can either keep the remains and purchase a container, such as an urn, to keep them at your home or the home of a family member, or you can scatter the remains at a favorite place or a location that was significant to your loved one.

Memorial Service

A memorial service may closely resemble the format of a funeral, except there is no body for viewing. You and your family may opt to have a memorial service that can take place some time after a direct burial or a direct cremation. If the remains are cremated and are kept by the family, they can be present at the memorial service or you may choose to display a nice photo of them instead.

With a memorial service, you can cut down on many of the costs associated with a traditional full-service funeral, including renting space at a funeral home or church or paying for a venue altogether. You can virtually hold a memorial service anywhere, at someone’s home, a community center, etc. with a less formal program. You may be able to incorporate more of a celebratory feel than a somber event, especially if your loved one enjoyed a certain activity that you can feature or include. Some memorial services have a slide show of photos depicting the person’s life and featuring happy memories.

Military Funeral

If your loved one was a member of the United States Armed Forces, he or she is entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker from the Department of Defense, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC further notes, “This eligibility also extends to some civilians who have provided military-related service and some Public Health Service personnel. Spouses and dependent children also are entitled to a lot and marker when buried in a national cemetery.”

Upon the family’s request, if he or she is eligible, your loved one also can receive the folding and presenting of the United States flag and the playing of Taps. Log on to the Military Honors page of the National Cemetery Administration website. To reach a regional Veterans Affairs office for more information, you may also call 1-800-827-1000.

The federal government does not charge for some of the basic costs that funeral homes would charge such as opening or closing the grave, for a vault or liner of the casket or for setting the marker in the national cemetery, though the family is usually responsible for other expenses.

In New York, the open national cemeteries include:

  • Bath National Cemetery
  • Calverton National Cemetery
  • Long Island National Cemetery
  • Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery
  • Woodlawn National Cemetery

Both Albany Rural Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot and Cypress Hill National Cemetery are closed, the National Cemetery Administration website says.

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