Death Certificates

Information about the purpose of death certificates and how they are obtained

Death certificates, we’ve all heard of them but do we really know what they are, where to get one, and what to do with it afterward?  Trying to get to the bottom of all of the bureaucracy and dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s while you are in this most emotionally fragile and confused hurt state of mind without help can be a really unpleasant experience to say the least.  The good news is that you are not alone, your Funeral Director can help you with all of these questions and help to ensure you have followed any necessary procedures to have your loved ones needs met.

In many states the death certificate looks like a regular 8.5 by 11 inch piece of paper (that’s the same size you’ll find in your home printer) The paper is usually of a higher quality and will often have a raised seal stamped onto the certificate.  Death certificates can often be decorated eerily similarly to an  educational diploma or marriage certificate.  Unlike these other documents it is very rare that you will find a person with a framed death certificate hung on their family room wall.  These are usually left with other important forms like tax forms, or legal documents for safe keeping’s.

Your Funeral Director can help you to obtain a copy of your loved ones death certificate.  They will have received a copy of the ‘proof of death’ for their records at the time your loved one arrive at their funeral home, that copy will not be the same as your copy so you will most likely need to apply for your own copy of the death certificate.  It is only important that the spouse, or the parents or legal guardians of the person who has passed way receive a copy of the death certificate.  This is certainly not a form that everyone in attendance will need or should want.  In some states you can order an official copy of a death certificate from the states vital statistics website and can expect to receive it by mail within days of having ordered it.

Why would you need a death certificate?  If you are the spouse, or parent of the deceased and you are considered responsible for his or her finances and estate after death you might need the death certificate in order to close bank accounts, sell property that is in the deceased name, and to exercise your right to distribute funds and belongings after the reading of the deceased persons will.  You will also need this document to claim any insurance you might be entitled to, or any government funds such as pensions, survivors benefits or the like.  A copy of the proof of death that you can request from the funeral director can be enough information for some smaller things you’ll need to manage but in order to close any government accounts including Social Security accounts and what not you will need the full stamped legal death certificate.

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