Every single funeral director in New York State is working under expired licenses

Updated: 07/03/2014 5:49 PM
Created: 07/03/2014 4:28 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

Important news tonight if you or your family should have to use the services of a funeral director in the next few weeks. The license of every single funeral director in New York State is expired because the state can't get its act together and get them the licenses they've already paid for. 

Imagine all the things you have to worry about if you have to contact a funeral director. And now there's this and it's all because of a spat between two departments in the state government. 

Brean: How frustrating is this situation for you? 

Joe Martin, Miller Funeral Services: It's very frustrating.

Joe Martin is the funeral director at Miller Funeral Services in Henrietta. State law says he and every director needs to be licensed. He showed us his card, but the expiration date says -- June 30, 2014. 

Three days expired. 

Funeral directors need the card, what they call a pocket card, to do just about everything for you and your family. 

"If they ask for ID, we have to provide a pocket card to show we are a licensed funeral director in New York State," Martin said. 

Brean: These pocket cards, you've paid for them already. 

Martin: That is correct. 

Brean: So you ought to have it on time. 

Martin: Most definitely.

So how did this happen? 

News10NBC obtained an email from the Association of Funeral Directors in New York. It quotes the head of the State Bureau of Funeral Directing saying the delay was "caused by a late, unexpected decision by the state DMV to withdraw from an earlier commitment to print your registrations containing each funeral director's photograph."

The Bureau of Funeral Directing is part of the New York State Health Department. This was the first time the DMV was asked to do this. 

The email says the bureau is scrambling to get someone else to produce the new cards. 

In the meantime, families have to deal with funeral directors who have expired licenses. 

"They should be concerned," Martin said. "I mean the government is there, we're paying our taxes and we paid our registration fees and it should be done."

We contacted the State DMV to find out why they didn't produce the cards they promised to make.

State DMV spokesperson Jackie McGinnis released this statement: 

"In the fall, DMV was approached by (the State Department of Health) to see if we would be able to produce what you referred to as 'pocket cards' for them. At that time we told DOH that we would not be able to produce the cards due to our own workload and the amount of IT time it would take to produce the cards. At no time have we ever produced, or agreed to produce, such cards for DOH."

We also wanted to know why the Bureau of Funeral Directing can't give every funeral director in the state a letter saying they're in good standing?

Late today, the Department of Health sent us a copy of the letter they sent to funeral directors to be used with their expired licenses. 

Click here to see the letter.

What does this mean for families that might have to use a funeral home in the next few weeks? It should not affect funeral services, although the directors have to show those expired cards if they have to move a body from a hospital or nursing home or to another state. 

If you have a concern about the funeral director you and your family contact, call the NYS Bureau of Funeral Directing at (518) 402-0785.

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