The New York State Legislature has passed The Electronic Signatures and Records Act, authorizing the use of electronic signatures on funeral and cemetery documents.
By state law, though death certificates could be signed electronically, funeral homes and cemeteries had required a handwritten signature in order to secure permits for burial, cremation or transit and other cemetery services, which had made it difficult for many families to make funeral and cemetery arrangements, including families whose religious beliefs mandate a speedy burial and out-of-state families making funeral arrangements for loved ones in New York.
These problems were exacerbated during the COVID pandemic. Families in quarantine struggled to make burial arrangements for their lost loved ones while in-person interactions, necessary for original signatures, were prohibited. Additionally, at the height of the pandemic, as end-of-life workers endeavored to move the deceased from overcrowded hospitals to other facilities, the requirement for original signatures caused dangerous delays.
“New Yorkers who are still reeling from the untimely passing of their family members know too well that grieving is hard enough without having to worry about the added stress of bureaucratic red tape,” said Sen. Simcha Felder, a co-sponsor of the Senate legislation.
Yanky Mayer, Executive Director of Misaskim, said that “the amount of grief this will spare a family is unimaginable.”
Shlomie Feldman, a coordinator of of Chesed Shel Emes, an organization that performed hundreds of taharos during the height of the COVID pandemic, said that while his organization “has Baruch Hashem always managed to arrange burials in the most expeditious manner, adopting and integrating technology into day-to-day business operations is always a good thing.”
The bill has passed both houses of the Legislature and awaits the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Updated Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 6:55 pm .