How to Get a Death Certificate: What You Should Know

Death is a very traumatizing event for affected parties. Whenever someone dies, it is usually up to the relatives to handle what is needed to give the deceased a decent send-off. Part of the send-off includes obtaining death certificates for the loved one.

Every state requires that if a person dies, their death be recorded within a matter of days in the local records office. The record office then issues about ten copies of the death certificate, which the relatives can keep for their records or use to take care of the deceased’s personal affairs.

Who creates death certificates?

A cremation organization or funeral home is usually in charge of handling the deceased’s remains and also manages the creation and filing of the death certificate with the county Health Department. The preparation process of the death certificate involves gathering all personal information of the deceased.

It also involves getting a medical examiner, doctor, or coroner to sign off on the document. Many states mandate that the preparation and filing of a death certificate be completed within a maximum of ten days. Most funeral homes begin the filing process within 72 hours of the death.

What is found in a death certificate?

A death certificate usually contains vital information about the deceased. The details in the document may vary with each state, but in most cases, they may include the following:

  • The deceased’s full name
  • Address
  • Place and date of birth
  • Father’s and mother’s names and birthplaces
  • Social security number
  • Education
  • Veteran discharge number
  • Marital status,
  • Date, time, place, and cause of death

Who can apply for a death certificate?

Many states offer two types of death certificate copies, informational or certified documents. Informational copies are usually kept for personal records and are made available for anyone who requests them.

In some states, death certificates are usually made public after some time has elapsed, such as a decade. Before such a period lapse, if you request a copy, you would need to provide valid reasons as to why you need to access that information.

On the other hand, certified copies have an official stamp and are usually available to the deceased person’s immediate family members. The certified copies are vital for ensuring that the after-death tasks, including cremation or burial, or will execution go through.

The deceased’s family members, the state manager, or anyone with proof of financial interest in the deceased estate are eligible for applying for a death certificate for the deceased. If you are tasked with handling the deceased’s affairs, you need to ask for ten copies.

Every copy comes in handy when you need to claim benefits or property of the deceased. Such benefits may include social security benefits, life insurance proceeds, veteran benefits, payable on death accounts, to mention a few.

It is advisable to order all the ten copies at once to cut on costs. Ordering one copy every time can be very costly as one goes for at least $10 or $15. While these are usually the substandard fee on applying for a death certificate copy, many states provide their own costs. Some counties may even include additional fees for the postage of the documents.

To get a copy of the certificate, you would need to provide your government-issued identity card, and other documentation that proves your relationship with the deceased. If you’re the deceased’s spouse, you could give a marriage certificate.

Death certificate information and how to get a death certificate in each state

You may be wondering, how can I view death certificates online for free?  The procedure varies from state to state. You can order for death certificates online via your specific state’s official website. You can also visit your county records office to get a copy of the document. For more information on how to access your state’s death certificate information, view the list below.