On Tuesday, June 1, the NYS Senate passed The Electronic Signatures and Records Act (S-6521) sponsored by Senator Diane Savino and co-sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder, authorizing the use of electronic signatures on funeral and cemetery documents.
“I am grateful to my colleague, Senator Savino, for her strenuous and conscientious efforts to pass this bill, which will help many people at a time when are they are suffering the loss of a loved one,” said Senator Felder. “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.”
“Once again, we see the use of technology in a most unusual way to comfort and help someone at their most trying time. The amount of grief this will spare a family is unimaginable,” said Yanky Mayer, Executive Director of Misaskim.
By New York State law, funeral homes and cemeteries require a hand-written signature in order to secure permits for burial, cremation or transit and all other cemetery services. However, Death Certificates signed electronically are already legally binding. This bill will complete the upgrading of an antiquated process.
For years, the “wet signature” requirement has made it more 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.
The pandemic highlighted the need for this legislation. 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.