Who Is Legally Responsible to Fix Headstones in New York State?
You have had the unfortunate experience of going to visit a grave site only to see that the headstone is/has somehow been damaged? Who is responsible for that? Can you make the cemetery pay for it? Or does it fall on the family or loved ones of the deceased?
First, my apologies that you had to see your loved ones life marker in that condition. Where to start your quest? With the cemetery itself. What you might find out, while they provide the general landscaping and upkeep around the headstone, they do not take care of the headstone, itself.
What questions do you need to ask the cemetery before you purchase your plot?
Ask if the headstone is covered under "Perpetual Care." This is usually what the cemetery has collected from you or your loved one when the plot was purchased. According to New York State, if the cemetery was (or is) a property that is a regulated cemetery and a part of the NYS Division of Cemeteries, they take the monies received from you at that time for perpetual care and put it into a special account where they can only use the interest and not the original deposit (endowment) to take care of the grave site.
Do you think that the cemetery is not 'keeping up their end of the deal?" What do you do next?
However, if you feel that in some way, shape or form, that the cemetery has not upheld their end of the contract, you can reach out to the New York State Division of Cemeteries and fill a formal complaint with them. Before you file that complaint, you will be asked to try to sort things out with the cemetery yourself.
If you do not get a happy resolution, there are many civic organizations that have volunteered to clean headstones and make small repairs (think Boy Scouts of America).