New York End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time.  The state of New York does have law governing living wills, but it does recognize and allow the appointance of a Health Care Proxy to act on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so. 

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? No

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes Doc? No

In New York, there is a single Health Care Proxy form. You can download this form by clicking the button below:


(Source: New York State Department of Health)


(Source: New York Attorney General Publications)

Death With Dignity

Death with Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death. 

New York State Representative Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), together with 10 co-sponsors and 4 multi-sponsors, introduced A 2383, Medical Aid in Dying Act, on January 23, 2017; Senators Diane Savino (D-N Staten Island/S Brooklyn) and Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) are the sponsors of the identical companion bill, S 3151.

See more on this legislation at Death with Dignity's NY page.

Designated Funeral Agent

New York law supports the appointment of a designated funeral agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated.

New York Public Health Law 4201(2) allows for the "designation in a written instrument of a person who shall have the right to control the disposition of the remains of a deceased person. 

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.


Financial Assistance

The state of New York does not offer burial assistance and the burden falls to the County or City.

The HRA of New York City will provide financial assistance to individuals in need of assistance to meet funeral expenses.

For more information on financial assistance available to residents of New York, see our Financial Assistance Chart.

Home Funeral

New York is one of 10 states that does not allow the family complete power in home funerals. A funeral director must be involved at one point in the process. New York law mandates funeral director involvement in obtaining all necessary permits and funeral director presence at the final disposition of the body.

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance for up-to-date details on home funeral restrictions in New York.

Personal Preference Law

In New York, there is not a law obligating your survivors to follow your personal preferences. However, we always recommend outlining your funeral preference in writing and sharing them with your designated funeral agent, next-of-kin, or spouse, giving you the best chance of having them seen through or upheld in court.