Funeral Directors Support Electronic Death Certificates

Area funeral directors say proposed state legislation regarding electronic death certificates would be helpful.

State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, recently introduced legislation into the Senate that would push full implementation of the New York State Electronic Death Registration System, which allows death certificates to be filed electronically. The law regarding the system was passed in 2013, but has not yet been fully implemented. The system was supposed to replace the manual process of entering and filing death certificates.

The new legislation, if passed, would require the process to be fully implemented within 60 days of the bill being passed. Also, at the current time, funeral directors are funding the system through a mandated fee of $20 for each burial permit. The legislation would remove the fee.

The system, which has been in place for about a year, is not used by medical examiners or coroners.

Matthew Yagger, owner of Falconer Funeral Home, said the system is in use at Falconer Funeral Home and makes operations easier. He said the funeral home began using the process last year.

Yagger said if someone dies at a hospital or nursing home, the electronic system is used to file the death certificate. The only cases in which the system is not used is if there is an unattended death.

Yagger said that if the law is passed, it wouldn’t change much for the funeral home, but would allow the process to be streamlined. He said it isn’t taking anything away from local registrars because the funeral homes still get the death certificates from City Hall.

“It’s just helping the process,” he said.

Louis Riccardi, owner of Hubert Funeral Home in Jamestown, said he is hopeful everyone will begin using the process to file death certificates.

“I would love it if everyone did it,” Riccardi said.

The EDRS system allows certificates to be filed in “real time,” he said. Otherwise, if there was a death in Gowanda and he had to manually file the paperwork, Riccardi said he would have to drive out to Gowanda, file the certificate and then drive back. With the system, he said he can do all the filing from his computer.

“I find it to be very easy,” he said.

Some funeral directors who are unfamiliar with computers would have to learn the system, but Riccardi said it is not a difficult process. He said it is “nothing but a help” and won’t impact clients at all.

David Christy, owner of Jordan Funeral Home, said the system has been in place for a year and it functions well. Christy said if coroners and medical examiners will use the system due to the proposed legislation, that is good news.

“It’s a great system,” he said. “It’s convinient for everyone.”