Who has the right to decide upon the burial of a family member?


Public Health Law § 4200 Cadavers; duty of burial and Public Health Law § 4201 Disposition of remains; responsibility therefor  provide guidance on this. Public Health Law § 4201 (2)  was amended by L 2022, ch 191 to establish a majority rules standard for disposition of remains.

In  Westlaw's and Lexis' annotated codes, Notes of Decisions summarizes cases applying this law and the earlier common law "right of sepulcher."  Both services carry New York Jurisprudence 2d "Cemeteries and Dead Bodies."

New York Consolidated Laws Service  in Lexis has a form, "Petition or Application for Order Directing Interment of Remains of Decedent.". Also in Lexis are two forms in 5B Forms for the Consolidated Laws of NY § 42000: PH4200:1 Complaint in Action for Negligent Failure to Discover That Hotel Guest Had Died;  PH4200:3 Order Granting Temporary Injunction of Funeral and Burial Services. 

In Westlaw, Pattern Jury Instruction 3:6 Intentional Torts—Interference with Person or Property—Outrageous Conduct Causing Emotional Distress discusses sepulcher. Cases are indexed under the West Key Topic 116k1 Dead Bodies -- Right of possession and disposition in general.


  • Last Updated Feb 21, 2023
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