How to Find a Licensed Funeral Bureau

The death of a loved one can be traumatic for family and friends. However, by asking questions, comparing prices and services, and making informed decisions, the grieving process can be less stressful for all involved.

Under New York State law, only licensed funeral directors can make arrangements for a burial or cremation. Embalming fees must be disclosed and listed on the itemized statement.


The licensing and regulations for funeral industry professionals and establishments vary by state. In general, licensure requirements include: a high school diploma; proof of U.S. citizenship; one or two years of general collegiate coursework; mortuary college; and passing national and/or state board examinations. An internship or apprenticeship is also required.

You are required to give a consumer a General Price List (GPL) upon request. This request can be made in person, by phone or by mail. However, you do not have to provide this information to consumers who inquire about goods and services before the time of their death or during an at-need arrangements conference that takes place while removing the body from the hospital or nursing home.

If you file a complaint against a licensee, the Funeral Board may take disciplinary action against them. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Funeral Board may issue a fine or order an apology, or it could suspend or revoke a license.


The state’s funeral board enforces laws and regulations designed to protect consumers during a vulnerable time. These include requiring funeral providers to provide a General Price List (GPL) when requested, even over the telephone. The GPL itemizes the various goods and services offered, allowing consumers to compare costs on an individual basis.

You must also disclose all non-declinable fees that are part of overhead, such as a facility fee or casket handling fee. In addition, you cannot add fees for specific services if they are included in your basic service fee or another required line item.

Some funeral providers enter into agreements with religious groups, burial societies, or memorial societies that enable them to offer certain packages at discounted prices for their members. However, even if you agree to sell only funeral goods or only funeral services to individuals outside of these groups, you must still comply with the Rule’s requirements and give them your GPL.


The death of a loved one is a stressful time for many families. The costs of funeral arrangements are a major expense and can add up quickly. Funeral consumers can save money by comparing prices and services from multiple providers and negotiating with the funeral home. They should also make sure that the home is licensed by the state and meets facility requirements.

Every person, who having lawful possession, charge, custody or control of a dead body brought into a mortuary, crematory or vault for burial or other disposition shall, upon request, identify himself or herself as a licensed funeral director or embalmer or a registered apprentice funeral director and produce his or her current certificate of registration. Such certificate shall be valid until July first next following its issue, unless it is suspended or revoked.

Consumers can file a complaint with their local funeral board if they feel that a funeral home has not treated a deceased relative or family member fairly. A professional licensing defense attorney can help licensees defend themselves against an adverse decision by a regulatory agency.


Funerals can be expensive, and some people plan ahead to cover the costs. They may set money aside in a savings account or low-risk investment and designate it for funeral expenses. This requires discipline to save consistently, and there is always the risk that the savings will be depleted or spent on other things.

Other individuals purchase burial insurance, which is similar to life insurance. Generally, it covers funeral and cremation costs and can be paid to a specific funeral home. The policyholder can choose to change their arrangements, request a refund, or transfer the funds to another funeral home.

Funeral homes sometimes use a third-party to hold the customer’s funds, and this is legal in some states. In other cases, the funeral home has been accused of brazenly altering application documents and using the customer’s funds for unauthorized purposes, including risky investments, payments on existing funeral claims, and personal enrichment. The Los Angeles Funeral Consumers Alliance recommends that consumers review any prepaid funeral plans carefully and choose a trusted provider.

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