Indigent BurialS

GardenHill Funeral Director Service, Inc. is listed as one of the Essex County Indigent Burial Service Providers. The Essex County Indigent Burial Program is a contracted burial service that we provide to the County of Essex once an applicant  has been approved for services. This is a burial only program. This program also serves as a last resort for any deceased person declared indigent or unclaimed, resident or non-resident, if the death occurred within Essex County.  


Application for services must be requested by the legal next-of-kin or a court Appointed representative for  the deceased. Hospital and Nursing Home Social Workers should also contact :


Essex County Morgue Keeper/Indigent Burial Coordinator

Essex County Division of Family Assistance and Benefits

18th Rector Street, 9th Fl.

Newark, NJ 07102

(973) 733-3325

Information on the process can be obtained from any Essex County Hospital Social Service Department / County Welfare Service Department/ County Medical Examiner's Office. If approved you will be provided information to contact our Funeral Home for service or another Contracted Funeral Home.


The purpose of this information is to educate those in need of a Essex County, NJ  Indigent Burial service.

Indigent Burial FAQs 

1. What is the Indigent Burial Program?

The program was designed to provide  burial services to any deceased person declared as unclaimed and/or indigent, resident or non-resident who is eligible for an indigent burial if the death occurred within Essex County, New Jersey. (NOTE: The county does not pay for funeral /viewing ceremonies, shipment of the deceased to or from another country or state for burial or cremation.) The Burial must be in accordance to the Indigent Burial Contract Agreement.

2. When is a deceased individual considered unclaimed?

If no legally authorized individual or other interested persons are found to claim the deceased or if they are unwilling to claim the deceased and to pay for the expense of the disposition of the deceased, the process for the disposition of the deceased will proceed at the expense of the county.

3. How is the deceased determined eligible for the program?

An investigation will be conducted by the county Burial Coordinator to determine if the deceased had sufficient income or assets to assume responsibility for disposition.  The county will use documentation and information from the deceased records, the funeral establishment, the Department of Welfare, Social Services & Families, the Office of Veteran Services, Social Security Administration, family, friends and other service agencies as may be appropriate in determining the financial status of the deceased.

4. What happens if the deceased is a Veteran?

If it is documented that the deceased was Honorably Discharged from the Armed Forces, burial in a Veterans National Cemetery may be authorized. The authorized funeral establishment shall make arrangements for such burial services.

5. What happens if the deceased is a resident of another County and expires in another county or state?

To be considered for this program, death must occur within Essex County, New Jersey. The deceased is ineligible for services, even if transported back into the county. Essex County Indigent Burial Program  does not pay for shipping the deceased into or out of the state.

6. Will the program provide for a supplement to assist with private burial/cremation expenses?

No, this program does not provide any supplement paid for cost incurred for private burial/cremation services.

7. Does this program provide for funeral, memorial or graveside services?

No, this program provides burial only, with the exception if the deceased was Honorably Discharged from the Armed Forces and may be buried at the local national cemetery. A brief committal service is provided by the Patriot Guard at the grave site.

8. Can the deceased be transported to any local funeral home?

No, the program has agreements with specific Contracted funeral homes to provide this service to those who expire within Essex County. The assignment of a funeral home is determined by the County Burial Coordinator.

9. What happens if the deceased does not qualify for services?

If it is determined that the deceased does not meet criteria, the legal next-of-kin will be responsible for making alternate arrangements to pay for any expenses incurred during the eligibility process.

10. If the deceased is eligible for the Indigent Burial program services, how much will the legal next-of-kin have to pay?

If the deceased is determined eligible for burial services, there is no cost to the family because the county already has in place a service agreement with our funeral home as one of their listed service providers.

If you have any other questions please feel free to contact us by phone or email and we will do our best to answer your questions and/or refer you to the appropriate agency.

Ask The Funeral Director


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