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SECTION 4203
Cremated remains of a veteran; disposition
Public Health (PBH) CHAPTER 45, ARTICLE 42, TITLE 1
§ 4203. Cremated remains of a veteran; disposition. 1. As used in this
section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(a) "veteran" means a deceased person who:

(i) served in the active military or naval service of the United
States; or

(ii) served in active duty in a force of any organized state militia
in a full-time status; or

(iii) served in the reserve armed forces of the United States in
active duty; or

(iv) was a recipient of the armed forces expeditionary medal, navy
expeditionary medal, marine corps expeditionary medal or global war on
terrorism expeditionary medal; and

(v) was released from such service otherwise than by dishonorable
discharge.

(b) "veterans' service organization" means an association, corporation
or other entity that qualifies under section 501(c)(3) or section
501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code as a tax-exempt organization
that has been organized for the benefit of veterans and recognized or
chartered by the United States Congress, including, but not limited to
the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the
American Legion and the Vietnam Veterans of America. The term also
includes a member or employee of an eligible non-profit veterans'
corporation, association or entity, such as the Missing In America
Veteran Recovery Program, that specifically assists in facilitating the
identification and internment of unclaimed remains of American veterans.

(c) "national cemetery" means any cemetery under the control of the
United States department of veterans' affairs national cemetery
administration.

(d) "interment" shall have the meaning set forth in paragraph (g) of
section fifteen hundred two of the not-for-profit corporation law.

(e) "disposition" means disposal of cremated remains by placement in a
tomb, mausoleum, crypt, niche in a columbarium or burial in a cemetery.
Provided, however, for the purpose of this section the term
"disposition" shall not include the scattering of cremated remains.

(f) "local veterans' service agencies" shall have the meaning set
forth in section three hundred fifty-seven of the executive law.

2. A funeral director, undertaker or funeral firm which has held in
its possession cremated remains for more than one hundred twenty days
from the date of cremation may, in accordance with the provisions of
this section, determine if such cremated remains are those of a veteran,
and if so, may dispose of such remains as provided in this section.

3. (a) Notwithstanding any law or regulation to the contrary, nothing
in this section shall prevent a funeral director, undertaker or funeral
firm from sharing information with the United States department of
veterans affairs (VA), a local veterans' service agency, a veterans'
service organization, a national cemetery, or county veterans cemetery
for the purpose of determining whether the cremated remains are those of
a veteran.

(b) A funeral director, undertaker, or funeral firm shall be
discharged from any legal obligations or liability with regard to
releasing or sharing information to the United States department of
veterans affairs, the local veterans' service agencies, veterans'
service organizations, a national cemetery, or county veterans cemetery
pursuant to this section.

4. (a) Should a funeral director, undertaker or funeral firm ascertain
the cremated remains in its possession are those of a veteran, and they
have not been instructed by the person in control of the disposition of
the decedent to arrange for the final disposal or delivery of the
cremated remains, the funeral director, undertaker or funeral firm may
dispose of the cremated remains or relinquish possession of the cremated
remains to a veterans' service organization.

(b) The method of disposition shall be made pursuant to section
forty-two hundred two of this title in a national cemetery, a county
veterans cemetery, a section of a cemetery corporation where veterans
are memorialized by a veteran's marker if eligible, a veterans' section
of a cemetery corporation or a veterans' cemetery if the deceased
veteran is eligible for interment in such a manner.

5. The funeral director, undertaker, funeral firm or veterans' service
organization notwithstanding any law to the contrary, upon:

(a) disposing of cremated remains in accordance with the provisions of
this section, shall be held harmless for any costs or damages, except if
there is gross negligence or willful misconduct; and

(b) shall be discharged from any legal obligation or liability
concerning the cremated remains.

6. The estate of the decedent shall be responsible for reimbursing a
funeral director, undertaker, funeral firm or veterans' service
organization for all reasonable expenses incurred in relation to the
disposition of such cremated remains.

7. A funeral director, undertaker or funeral firm shall establish and
maintain a record identifying the veterans' service organization
receiving the cremated remains and the site designated for final
disposition of the cremated remains.

8. Nothing in this section shall require a funeral director,
undertaker or funeral firm to determine or seek others to determine that
an individual's cremated remains are those of a veteran if the funeral
director, undertaker or funeral firm was informed by the person in
control of disposition that such individual was not a veteran, or to
relinquish possession of such cremated remains to a veterans' service
organization if the funeral director, undertaker or funeral firm was
instructed by such person in control, or had a reasonable belief, that
the decedent did not desire any funeral or burial-related services or
ceremonies recognizing such decedent's service as a veteran.